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Like millions of others, I’ve been living the work from home life since the start of the pandemic. The beginning of the pandemic included a bit of a janky WFH set up on my end; sometimes working at a small desk (if not the couch), using only my laptop’s trackpad, and definitely no second monitor. As time went on, I began to invest in my setup, slowly but surely.
While I did sort out my tech needs, I recently realized I’d been neglecting my health in purchasing office supplies. So, I made it a goal in 2023 to take better care of my body during the workday. I thought this might start in the form of a walking pad… until I was introduced to the concept of “active office chairs” by Branch Furniture.
+ Thoughtfully designed to encourage movement
+ Variety of color options
+ Incredibly easy installation
+ Compact for any sized space
+ Made from recycled materials
+ Matches a variety of decor aesthetics
+ Has a 5 year warranty
We don't like
- Not designed for 8 hours of sitting
- Higher price point
- Wheels don’t lock in place
Back To The (Branch) Basics
My favorite founder stories are those born out of necessity – and Branch is just that. Founder Greg Hayes had furnished all kinds of offices when it dawned on him: buying office furniture was a pain. He felt no company offered high-quality furniture, speed, and good service, so he decided to create a company that did. Branch is able to offer excellent furniture at affordable prices, as well as offer exceptional service, because it cuts out the middleman and sells straight to you, which we, of course, love!
Branch believes when you feel good, you work better… and don’t we all want to work better? The brand has created a robust suite of office furniture, including chairs, desks, accessories, and meeting tables. Most recently, it launched the Saddle Chair (starting at $289) in partnership with Finnish design company myKolme. With a focus on traditional Finnish design and “purposeful solutions for everyday use,” the design firm’s style meshes seamlessly with the distinctive Branch look in this piece.
Beyond just looking sexy in any office setup, the real value of the Saddle Chair lies in its “active seating” style. If you’re not familiar with active seating, allow me to explain. Active seating simply refers to chairs that encourage movement, while still providing adequate support for the entire body while sitting. These chairs encourage the user to move frequently, changing positions often, which is in opposition to the popularized, high-backed office chairs we have come to know.
For my health nerds (from a fellow nerd), the Mayo Clinic tells us that sitting for too long can cause a variety of health concerns, such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other metabolic concerns. While the Saddle Chair certainly will not prevent or fix these conditions on its own, it’s a darn good start to force yourself to move often.
We don't like
Duo Standing Desk
“Branch's new Duo Standing Desk is a total game-changer for any WFHer. Designed specifically for home offices with tons of user feedback, the Duo provides a slimmed down, good-looking desk that will easily work in any sized space. Taking things a step further, the brand designed accessories like drawers and clamp-on power strips to help you create the workspace of your dreams. Branch utilizes exceptional materials, so while $499 isn't chump change, it is less than other standing desks out there. Given that I spend 40+ hours/week at a desk, I view it as an investment in myself and my work that'll last for years to come.” – Dana Abraham
We don't like
We don't like
Furniture For Your Home, Sent To Your Home
The Saddle Chair comes in two configurations: the ILOA and the ILOA Plus. Named after myKolme’s first design family, the chair has five color options between the two models, including black, dove, brick, forest, and pacific. The ILOA ($289) is the more basic model and is offered in black and dove. The Plus ($339) boasts all 5 color options, as well as a reinforced upholstered seat, which includes an extra layer of wood underneath the seat. I personally liked the look of the extra layer of wood, so I went for the Plus.
I was out to dinner when the chair arrived on my doorstep, so when I got home, I abruptly greeted my pups and began unboxing. I genuinely hate reading directions for assembly, so I was relieved when I didn’t immediately find them and just had a go at it (I later found them at the bottom of the box). Assembly was incredibly intuitive, only requiring 3 components to be put together. Better yet, no tools were required, making it very apartment-friendly for those who don’t have a whole suite of tools. This isn’t your frustrating, big-box-retailer assembly that’ll take you hours and a few beers to put together. Branch promises you can assemble it on your lunch break; I think the Saddle Chair can be assembled on an even shorter “bio break.”
The Test of Time
At first, I wasn’t totally sure how to sit on it. The design leaves room for interpretation, but ultimately, I figured out that parts that are angled downward are intended for your legs (like a saddle). “Saddle” is a good descriptor for this position; the slight stretch does feel a bit like you’re on a horse, but without the awkward bouncing and smells, of course. The first thing my husband noticed when sitting in this position was that the chair forces you to be intentional about your posture, particularly your back position. I’m traditionally a poor-postured human, hunching regularly, so the added push to focus on this was welcomed. In fact, my posture was so much better as a result that I had to raise my monitor up! As I’m writing this, I’ve got my legs crossed and it’s quite comfortable this way, too. I think you can get creative about the way you sit on it; the chair seems to encourage creative movement and positioning of your body. Another thing I noticed was a subtle ab flex when sitting in different positions… don’t mind if I do get a little toned while working….
Branch explicitly says that the chair is not intended for a full, 8 hour workday. Rather, the intention is to “serve as a supportive seat while users oscillate between a seated and standing position.” So if you’re looking for an 8-hour-a-day chair, you might want to look elsewhere on Branch’s site. This is really intended to be a part-time supplement to standing or another chair in order to encourage motion. I used it for a few hours at a time and never felt uncomfortable or tired. Rather, I felt focused and fueled by having my body in the proper position.
Investing In You
To acknowledge the obvious, yes, this chair is pricey, especially for not being an 8-hour-a-day solution. That being said, think about how much time you spend working in a seated position. Not to bum you out, but the average person spends 80,000 hours in their career. That’s a TON of time that you could be encouraging your body to move or be in a better position, which in my mind, is priceless. I know for a fact that this is a chair we’ll have around our home probably forever, thanks to the quality of materials used and the timeless design.
In a world where folks get rid of furniture every few years, I am seeking out companies and products that make pieces for the long haul. Considering this requires ditching trendy designs, as well as not cutting corners in materials or manufacturing, not many brands are doing this. It’s always refreshing to find a brand like Branch that is making things to last a lifetime. Even more refreshing, perhaps, is the brand’s intentional design with items like the Saddle Chair with a goal to make you happier and healthier through regular movement.