Modern office chair with mesh backrest – Good or Bad?

Mesh back chairs have become extremely popular. Are they comfortable and what are their pros and cons?

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The variety of modern stylish office chairs available in South Africa is huge. Most office furniture retailers offer ranges that include breathable mesh back chairs as well as fully upholstered ones. Some sellers claim that their chairs are the most comfortable for your home or office, while others state that theirs offer unbridled luxury. Without exception, all sellers state that their chairs provide the best support for your back. Obviously, these statements cannot all be true. So….what are the advantages and disadvantages of a modern mesh office chair and do they give you the best back support?

The universal rule of seating:
“The comfort of any chair is subjective and depends on the user. When it comes to office chairs, there is no, and never will be, a one size fits all.”

The Modern Office Chair

Modern office chairs, whether executive, task or visitors, increasingly feature a mesh backrest. Mesh back chairs first appeared in October 1994 with the release of the Herman Miller Aeron chair. Ironically, this chair was originally intended for use by the elderly in their homes, and not for the office. Nevertheless, breathable mesh back chairs thrived from then on, and today most office chairs are of this type. The Latest Trends in selecting a Comfortable Office Chair.

ergonomic office chair
modern office chair
a makro range of modern office chairs and furniture at a good price in Johannesburg South Africa
hybrid office work requires an ergonomic setup at home and at the office

1. Advantages of a modern mesh office chair

a. Improved ergonomic support for your back

A traditional office chair has plywood or plastic shell that is covered in foam and upholstered with fabric, vinyl or leather. The support provided by these chairs depends on the contoured shape of the shell and foam. Because the contoured shape of the backrest is not adjustable, these chairs will only suit a specific group or range of users.

Modern mesh office chairs “mould” themselves into the shape of your back, which makes them more supportive and comfortable than an upholstered chair. By doing so, they can help to improve posture and reduce aches and pains associated with musculoskeletal disorders. The consequences of sitting on the wrong chair.

In addition to moulding themselves to suit the shape of your back, these stylish ‘breathable’ office chairs typically have an adjustable lumbar support. The greater adjustability of mesh chairs ensures that they can be set up to provide better back support for a broader range of users. Why do I need a chair with adjustable lumbar support?

For greater luxury and comfort, most mesh office chairs have an upholstered seat that provides ergonomic support for your thighs and buttocks. What is an Executive chair and how does it differ from a Task chair?

b. Breathable

Traditional upholstered office chairs act as insulators trapping heat between your body and the chair. This can result in uncomfortable sweating, especially in a hot climate. Mesh office chairs use a breathable membrane that keeps you cool, comfortable and dry.

c. Stylish and modern

Mesh office chairs are modern and stylish. Manufacturers have focused their designs on creating chairs that have tremendous aesthetic appeal for both home and office use.

While many of the original mesh office chairs were fairly bland, modern versions like the Alya, are state-of-the-art in their design.

stylish, modern and luxury office chair
Modern office chairs are a stylish alternative to their upholstered counterparts

Buy a Modern Office Chair!

d. Easy Maintenance

Mesh chairs are a breeze to clean and maintain. Spills and stains can be quickly wiped away with a damp cloth, eliminating the need for costly shampoos or treatments. Furthermore, the quick-drying nature of the mesh material prevents moisture from lingering, reducing the risk of odours or mould growth. This convenience translates to a longer-lasting and well-maintained chair.

e. Allergen-Free

Traditional upholstered chairs can trap dust, pollen, and other allergens, leading to discomfort for individuals with allergies or respiratory issues. Mesh chairs, on the other hand, are less likely to accumulate allergens, providing a cleaner and healthier seating option.

f. Durability

Modern, good quality mesh chairs retain their shape well and are extremely durable. They are usually more resistant to wear and tear than fabric upholstered office chairs.

g. Modern office chairs offer greater value for money

Mesh is more cost efficient than fabric or leather upholstery. Because it is usually more durable than fabric upholstery, modern office chairs offer greater value for money.

h. Environmentally friendly

Mesh chairs are environmentally friendly as they are manufactured using significantly less material, and in most cases, these materials are easily separated and recycled. Because the foam and fabric in traditional upholstered office chairs is glued to the plywood or plastic shells, the materials are more difficult to separate and recycle.

2. Disadvantages of modern mesh office chairs

a. Less choice in design

As the popularity of mesh office chairs grows, there are a limited number of colour options available, typically black or grey. Although some manufactures offer a series of bright colours, they are often more expensive and may not fit in with your home or office décor.

b. Sagging of poor quality mesh

As with most products, quality does not come cheap. Poor quality mesh is prone to sagging, which not only makes the chairs less comfortable, but also reduces their aesthetics in your home or office.

c. Lack of Cushioning

Unlike heavily padded upholstered chairs, mesh chairs may lack the plush cushioning that some individuals prefer. While the ergonomic design provides support, those who prioritise softness and a "sink-in" feeling might find mesh chairs less comfortable.

d. Initial Adjustment Period

Switching from a traditional upholstered chair to a mesh chair may require an initial adjustment period for some users. The firmer support and different feel of the mesh might take some time to get used to, and a few individuals may not find it immediately comfortable.


A modern mesh office chair offers greater luxury and comfort compared to it's traditional counterpart. Because the breathable mesh moulds itself to your back, it provides greater ergonomic comfort and support for your back. Add the adjustability, aesthetic, environmental and value for money benefits, and these chairs become the obvious seating solution for your home or office. Remember however, that the comfort and support of any office chair is subjective and depends on the user. There is no one size fits all.

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