Design Criteria


Chair designs fall into three broad categories – Alert, Relaxed, and Reclined. How seating units will be used should monitor design elements such as seat height, slope and foam thickness, as well as, back incline and construction methods. These three basic categories are normally utilized in the following applications:

Alert Seating Relaxed Seating Reclined Seating

ALERT seating is used at desks or tables for functions such as eating, study, office work, crafts, sewing, or other active oriented applications. The seat is nearly level with the floor. Feet are flat on the floor. The muscles are tense or alert.

RELAXED seating is used where no table or desk is used. It is not designed for physical activity but rather for listening, reading, or conversation. The muscles are more relaxed and a person is more settled into the seating unit.

RECLINED seating is designed for comfort where little to no body motion is required or used. It is used for sustained seating applications such as pleasure reading or TV watching.


Ergonomic comes from the Greek word ergon – work and nomos – law. It is the study of the mental and physical capacities of persons in relationship to the demands made upon them by various kinds of work (New Webster’s Dictionary). In seating, this term is normally used to describe a back design associated with alert postured – work oriented chairs. The back design normally used in relaxed seating is called lumbar supported.

Ergonomic Backs Lumbar Supported Backs Various Options
Ergonomic backs are very stylish. They are best utilized in alert seating applications where design or economy is very important. Lumbar supported backs are preferred where comfort takes precedence over styling. They should be used in relaxed seating applications. Most Chancellor models are available with alert or relaxed standards and ergonomic or lumbar supported backs.


When chairs are grouped together they present a different appearance than when viewed individually. The design of the top edge establishes this mood or feeling.

Traditional Appearance Individual Appearance Opera Appearance

Traditional appearance is given when the top edge shows no cutout or design elements, offering an unbroken unified appearance.

Individual appearance is evident when the notched top edge creates an individual seating appearance where each chair is easily identified

Opera appearance is presented with a gentle radius associated with theater chairs.


Other design factors to consider when making decisions are safety, modesty, and maintenance. Safety factors should be a concern if children are allowed to stand in the chairs and modesty if chairs are placed in rows. Arm chairs are beneficial to those needing help in sitting and standing.

Continuous Seating Spaced Seating Defined Arms

Continuous seating allows cushions to touch each other forming a continuous seating unit adding safety if children are allowed to stand on the chairs.

Spaced seating leaves spaces between the cushions. Open backs aid in stacking and ease of cleaning.

Defined arms strongly identify individual space and assist in sitting and standing.


No one chair serves all needs. Stacking chairs demand different elements than non-stacking chairs, and single units demand different elements than assembled units. 

Stacking Chairs Non-stacking Chairs Single Chairs

Stacking requires elements which interfere with design. Note cutouts required for stacking

Non-stacking allows clean design but prohibits proper stacking.

Single chairs used individually allow a greater range of size and features.