Office chairs are a difficult category to review. You can look at the chair’s specifications and adjustability but it does come down to two basic questions – is it comfortable to sit on and is it ergonomic and supportive? BMA make a range of office chairs with the Axia brand which range from simple low spinning chairs to larger supportive chairs and even 24 hour chairs with built in sensors to tell you if you are sitting right. The basic frame is the same (or very similar) throughout the range but different modular cushions, backs, arms and electronics clip on.
We’ve gotten a chance to try the Axia 2.4 office chair with a high back, adjustable arms and a headrest.
The Axia line is based on the principle of pelvic support being key to good sitting. The idea is that if you support the pelvis it will help the back to support itself and you will naturally move into a good position. There is a certain amount of movement as part of this but rather than have a free flowing seat Axia’s are designed to let your move between three specific places – leaning forwards to read, leaning back to think or talk and upright to type.
The front of the seat stays in a fixed position while the back of the seat cushion moves slightly. The arms also stay in a fixed position and this combination means your feet can stay on the ground in all three positions giving you stability as well as movement.
So how does it feel to sit in? Once you’ve spent the time to get it perfect adjusted for your body it doesn’t actually feel that comfortable for the first few minutes. I’m not sure if I was just sitting wrong somehow or not used to the way I needed to move but it look a little persistence. They key was to realise that I needed to be in one of the three positions and that if I was in any other position it wouldn’t feel right. After a few hours sitting my subconscious got used to it and moved me to the right positions. This is actually a point in the chairs favor – it encourages you to the right ergonomic positions rather than letting you get into poor positions.
Price: From £903 with no arms or neckrest to £1152
About BMA Ergonomics and SBS
BMA Ergonomics was setup in 1968 and began making their own ergonomic desk chairs. The Axia line is their flagship and they have sold over 800,000 mainly focused on the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and are based and manufacture in Zwolle in the Netherlands. BMA tries to have being sustainable at the core of its business plans and its products are deliberately modular for easy fixing, made of eco-friendly materials and have a return buyback guarantee in any condition and age. BMA also runs a reconditioned second life chair business.
SBS – Scandinavian Business Seating is in the process of acquiring BMA having signed legal documents in June 2015. They currently plan to let BMA operate as a sub-brand in a similar manner to HAG whilst making use of the economies of scale involved in being a larger company. The two companies seem have similar ethos’ and hopefully will mesh well together.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
The Axia line is versatile and leans itself to a variety of users shapes and sizes. It is key to get it adjusted correctly and while there are a number of videos available showing how to do this it’s something that would be sensible to get an experienced user or a rep to help with.
The basic chair can be built on with different size backs, arms and headrests depending on the situation and the user’s size.
The have controls on both sides and while it is possible to get some of the controls moved you need good strength in both arms (or an assistant) to help you get it properly adjusted. Once set to a particular user the chair should not need regular adjustment. I have however personally discovered that a five year old can operate the controls and move things around.
The chair is designed for indoor use and there are specific versions available for controlled environments.
The Axia system is designed to let you sit ergonomically at a table or desk and succeeds if you get the right combination of parts for your body size and shape and if you get them properly adjusted. If they’re not set correctly the chances are that you will not get an ergonomic sitting experience.
Environment & People
BMA emphasises both social responsibility and caring for the environment on its site and in its practices. Some of the things it does include an annual sustainability report, an open offer to buy back old chairs which are then stripped for part with any unfixable parts being recycled, attention being paid to factory conditions, actively attempting to reduce emissions, shortening suppply chain travel and a number of other initiatives.
SBS’s upcoming purchase of BMA is likely to improve the situation even more as both companies have similar approaches and joining them should improve both.
The Axia is expensive compared to some other options – there’s no getting around that but it falls well within the expected cost for a chair of its calibre. A chair that has a reasonable number of extras would work out at around £1000 but that’s for a chair with a 10 year lifespan and one that has a guaranteed resale value back to the company afterwards. It is also a modular system so if a part of the chair was to get damaged that part would be replaceable without having to replace the whole chair.
BMA also offer a four week trial which should give you a chance to adapt to the chair and see if it was right for you.
In short it’s expensive but over the long term potentially an economic cost.
Back height: 52- 58 cm maximum
Seat Depth: 38 – 45cm
Seat Height: 40 – 55cm
Seat Width: 51.5cm
Back height: 52 – 58cm
Pelvic support: 17 – 23cm
Height of armrest above seat: 20 – 31cm
Diameter of base: 60cm across
Castors: Carpet (soft) flooring is standard, options for hard floors also available
Optional extras: Adjustable lumbar support, adjustable neck rest, height, width and depth adjustable armrests
Chair Weight: 23kg
Maximum supported weight: 158kg or 25 stone
Great office chairs are look a good pair of shoes. Once you find one that works for you you never want to go back. The Axia line and specifically the 4.0 has everything that a desk bound worker should be looking for. A variety of sizes, great adjustability and modularity, a well thought out ergonomic philosophy. BMA backs that up with an impressive history and manufacturing system to say nothing of their environmental credentials. If you’re looking for a desk chair that will give you the support you need the Axia line is a good choice and I’d recommend that you take them up on their four week trial and see if the shoe fits you.
The review is based on the Axia 2.4 Office chair with a high back, head support and arms with leather fabric. This post contains affiliate links. First published on 30 November 2015.