Having the right desk setup can make or break your productivity levels. If you’re uncomfortable, how are you meant to focus on the tasks at hand?
This ideology can’t be true enough for arguably the most important position in the United States—the president. What chairs have the Presidents of the United States used during their time in office? And what desk did they pair with it?
Keep reading to learn more about the ergonomic history of American presidents!
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When President Biden moved into the Oval Office, several elements were replaced or redone to his liking. The rug, chair, and unwanted accessories were removed from the vicinity to make way for his first term.
President Biden chose a brown leather chair with tufted detailing that looks very comfortable. The chair is classic and looks sufficiently padded to meet the needs of the 78-year-old president.
Obama was a busy man, so he needed a great chair to keep him supported and secure. The 43rd president didn’t just let his assistants pick out a chair for him, he wanted to try them all himself!
While he was testing out the chairs, he was photographed in a red leather office chair which stuck with him throughout his two terms. It’s classic, patriotic, and looks incredibly comfortable.
His chair of choice was made by Smith & Watson, a company that prides itself in making pieces in the style of “the golden age of furniture”. All their pieces are undeniably special… and incredibly expensive.
President G. W. Bush
Being a president, it’s only natural that G. W. Bush went for the Presidential Concorde chair made by Global Industries for his seat of choice in the Oval Office. While the chair may look basic at first glance, it is versatile and was custom-made for the president.
If you’re looking for ergonomic support, there’s no doubt in our minds that the Concorde chair would provide you with exactly what you’re looking for.
All the controls needed to help the chair fit you perfectly are just a touch of a button away, and the generously padded back and arms will make you feel like you’re being caressed by your favorite person.
It doesn’t get more classic than President Reagan’s Oval Office chair. The deep seat and the rich shade of blue look royal and timeless.
The chair was crafted by the Kittinger Company, which has been making furniture for over 150 years. The seat of the chair is surprisingly low for an office chair, accounting for the president being about six feet tall.
In his older years, President Carter has become a passionate furniture maker who loves to carve and craft beautiful chairs. However, during his time in the Oval Office, he relied on others to make him the perfect office chair.
Carter’s chair was a beautiful deep black with wooden and brass detailing. The build of the chair allowed him to lean back comfortably and the arms were high enough to provide comfortable support.
Kennedy’s impact on the White House office chair history is iconic. While the presidents before him were only focused on the job at hand, Kenny recognized the importance of ergonomics.
The 35th president believed that comfort would help him do his job better, which is exactly why people spend so much time and money today hunting down the perfect ergonomic office chair!
The Gunlocke Company worked with the president’s doctor to develop the ideal chair for him. The key was to design a chair that would provide enough support and keep his back aligned.
Nonetheless, Kennedy ended up adding an additional cushion to the chairs.
Unfortunately, President Taft did not live in an era that appreciated a solid ergonomic chair. He is also the heaviest President to have been in office, so he could’ve used the extra support when sitting down all day.
Taft’s chair did not have any adjustable features to make sure the armrests and seat height were to his liking. The simple chair did have a swivel though, which was invented just 35 years prior.
When President Lincoln was in office, the White House was not the well-maintained fortress it is today. His office was where he did everything from taking meetings to getting his hair cut.
His office chair was a very simple armchair that—like the rest of the room—looked rather dull. The chair he was assassinated in, on the other hand, was far comfier. The red cushioned rocking chair he spent his last minutes in is currently sitting at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
The Resolute Desk
The Resolute desk is the current desk in the Oval Office. Made from the HMS Resolute ship, the desk is an important piece of history. It’s also incredibly heavy and weighs a whopping 1,300 pounds.
The detailing on the Resolute desk is impressive. It has a large bald eagle engraved onto it and the trim is adorned by meticulously crafted designs that give the piece of furniture a majestic and fantastical feel.
All the presidents since President Hayes in 1880 (except President Johnson, President Nixon, and President Ford) have used this desk in the Oval Office. It is the centerpiece of the room and we can only imagine the emotions one might feel sitting at it.
Not every president had the honor to sink themselves into an ergonomic and beautifully handcrafted armchair in the Oval Office. However, recent presidents have enjoyed nothing but premium ergonomic support.
We’d love to hear what Taft thought about his simple office chair. There’s no doubt in our minds he’d be blown away by the comfortable seating options available now!
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.