Even if they don’t play video games, employees may soon find themselves sitting in a gaming chair. That’s because these chairs, originally designed for people holding controllers and sitting in one place for hours on end, are now the new go-to office chair for many types of businesses.
Some companies buy the chairs to achieve the “cool” factor that attracts talent. Others like how the high-tech design looks in the office. David LeClair, Staples Associate Divisional Merchandise Manager of Chairs and Furniture, shares how he spotted this red-hot trend and why gaming chairs are flying out of stores and into offices.
Q. What’s happening with gaming chairs?
The category is exploding. I first noticed it when we sold out of all our gaming chairs inventory in one store in three days. I thought maybe the store had a big gaming clientele and some kids had come by and bought them. When I checked with the store, they told me it was a business owner who bought the chairs. The owner liked the comfort and function of the chairs, and the blue color also matched his company’s logo. On the spot, he bought what we had in the store and several more of the same chair online. That’s when I realized that this is not a fad, it’s a trend — one that is growing quickly and becoming very, very important. A year and a half ago, we were selling zero of these chairs. Now they are 15 percent of our retail sales.
Q. What is the appeal of gaming chairs for offices?
We’re seeing and hearing from companies looking to put gaming chairs in their meeting rooms and in other areas to create a certain aesthetic. Younger business people grew up sitting in these chairs to game and they want to bring that look into the office space, instead of the “dad-style old puffy leather” chair. Another part of this trend is the move to bring a residential feel into the commercial space — known as “resimercial” — to make offices more appealing to potential employees.
A couple of months ago, an owner of a small company came into one of our stores and bought 20 of our gaming chairs. He said he was outfitting the entire office with these chairs for the business’s younger workforce. The chairs fit the persona they wanted to project.
Q. Is comfort a driving factor in this trend?
Traditional gaming chairs can actually be much more uncomfortable than a desk chair when not made correctly. Some manufacturers without a background in furniture will put a cheap, poorly constructed seat plate on a cool-looking chair, for instance.
But plenty of chairs are ergonomically correct, and some incorporate really cutting-edge elements to make them more comfortable. The Helix chair, just introduced in July, is made with a cooling material on the back that helps regulate body temperature. NASA actually developed this material for astronaut suits, and now the material is on our chairs.
Q. Are there certain industries that are leading the trend?
Industries interested in offering a cool factor to prospective and current employees are leading the way. Tech companies are a good example because their employees may be more inclined to be gamers or prefer the aesthetic of the chairs.
I might be hard-pressed to find gaming chairs in a law office or an accounting firm. I don’t imagine seeing a lot of them in there.
Even if you are pursuing a particular aesthetic, remember that your employees need to be comfortable. Search for chairs that provide a cool look and comfort, and sit in chairs before you buy them to be sure they deliver both.
Q. Where is this trend headed?
Chairs that combine the aesthetic of a gaming chair with the characteristics of car racing seats are the next big thing. We are in the process of creating a chair that integrates the benefits of high-end car racing seats, like those in an Audi or Maserati. It has a sophisticated design that will work really well in lots of different offices, since it is a little less decorative and colorful than traditional gaming chairs.