The Varier Variable Plus isn’t your standard office chair. In a sea of black and grey plastic, the unique shape and style of this kneeling chair offers an exciting alternative. But is it actually comfortable, or is it all just a gimmick?
If you’re suffering from back pain, or are conscious of your posture, then a kneeling chair could be a great option for you (however, make sure to check with your doctor first). The kneeling design is supposed to help reduce back pain by redistributing your weight. It also develops your core muscle strength due to the sitting position it holds you in, which will help with back pain too.
Seat depth: 12 in
Seat width: 16 in
Seat height: 19.7 in (suitable for those 5’2” to 5’11”)
Weight: 11.5 lbs
Max user weight: 240 lbs
Warranty: 7 years on wood, 2 years on fabrics (when registered with Varier)
So, if you want something a little bit different from what’s on offer from the best ergonomic office chairs (opens in new tab), then this might be the chair for you. Yes, it’s a bit quirky, but that’s part of its charm. Anyone who visits you will want to try it out – it’s definitely an experience.
For this review, we tested out the Varier Variable Plus in black ash upholstered in red Dinamica for four weeks. We sat on this chair every day for several hours, alternating between sitting and standing. Forwards, backwards, kneeling, feet flat on the floor – we thoroughly tested out every possible sitting option.
This goes nicely with the best standings desks (opens in new tab) (we’re using the FlexiSpot E7 standing desk (opens in new tab)), as you can just push it underneath and out of the way whilst standing. Pair that with an ergonomic home office keyboard (opens in new tab) and your body will thank you.
Varier Variable Plus: Design
- W 18 x D 31 x H 36 inches
The Varier Variable Plus kneeling chair is compact and very modern-looking with its sleek curves – one would expect nothing less from a piece of furniture created by Norwegian industrial designer Peter Opsvik. Direct from the Varier Furniture website, we learn that “Throughout his career, Opsvik has attempted to overcome our stereotypical sitting habits with his unconventional seating solutions” - we certainly think he’s succeeded.
Weighing in at just 11.5 lbs (5.2 kg), the kneeling chair is very easy to pick up and move about. The wooden frame comes in natural ash or black ash (layers of beech and ash veneer), both with a clear lacquer finish. Depending on what type of fabric you choose – Revive, Reflect, Re-wool, or Dinamica – there are several color options, like bright yellow, light red, classic black, and more. For example, Dinamica is more expensive as it’s a soft durable fabric (we can confirm it feels amazing) that’s super easy to clean if you accidentally spill anything onto it.
One of the unique aspects of this particular design is that the curved runners/flexible wood base allow for a gentle rocking motion. However, do be careful when rocking if you have pets or small children around.
Varier Variable Plus: Features and performance
- Variety of seating positions
- Rocking motion
- No adjustable parts
What we love about the Varier Variable Plus kneeling chair is that it promotes active sitting and it encouraged us to change our posture as we worked. We found that moving about more was better for our lower back and we were in less pain than if we had been sitting on a traditional chair. However, this comes with a caveat… this chair does have a bit of a sitting learning curve and it will take you a while to get used to it. Yes, this chair actually comes with a ‘how to sit’ instruction manual, but this is for your benefit so you can get the most out of its unique design.
Now, the really cool thing about this chair is that it offers so many different sitting position options:
- Kneeling forward (both knees on the pads, feet resting on the runners)
- Sitting forward (both feet on the floor)
- One foot on the knee pad, one foot down
- Leaning back completely (the little kickstand will stop you from falling backward whilst you’re daydreaming or taking a phone call)
- Turn the chair backward and lean forward with your chest on the backrest (this provides a nice back stretch)
Moving around is good for your health and keeps you limber, plus the movement helps you stay alert and productive, especially if you’re a bit of a fidgeter.
The chair encourages active sitting, which means you’re engaging your abdominal and back muscles, so you may feel a bit sore for the first few weeks whilst you strengthen your core – the manufacturer even issues a warning about this. Ultimately, that'll be better for your posture in the long run, but admittedly this ‘breaking in’ period does suck. We recommend that you sit in short bursts and swap out with a more traditional office chair or a standing desk whilst you build your tolerance.
Nothing on this chair is adjustable, it comes as it is. It’s recommended for those who are 5’2” to 5’11” tall, but at 5’2” we found ourselves too short for the chair. We even had a friend of the same height test the chair, and they confirmed this too. Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend this chair for those on the shorter side (or even the taller side as we imagine longer legs wouldn’t fit comfortably). There is an accessory available (distance blocks) to put under the knee pads for those who are shorter, but for the price we would have liked these to be included rather than an extra expense of $78 / £64.
Also, although they’re called knee pads, they’re actually for your shins. It takes some time to learn and adjust so you don’t have your full weight on your shins – you’ll need to strike a balance between distributing your weight between your shins and your rear. If you don’t, you’ll end up with sore shins, like we did after 20 minutes in the same position. Swapping up seating styles is key!
Varier Variable Plus: Price
- From $599 / £589
- Warranty: 7 years on wood, 2 years on fabrics (when registered with Varier)
Prepare yourself, because yeah, this chair is expensive. However, it can be argued that all quality specialist ergonomic chairs are, and the Varier Variable Plus is a very well-made chair by a skilled and knowledgeable expert. Plus, it’s an investment for the health of your back.
You’ll tend to find this chair in specialist back stores – find a retailer (opens in new tab) near you – or stocked by an online shop like Amazon (opens in new tab). We highly recommend that you try this chair out in-store if you can.
Generally, kneeling chairs can start from the very low price of $60-$80 (although, honestly, these don’t look very comfortable). You’ll find the more ergonomic ones at around the $150 mark, which seems very reasonable. Honestly, in comparison to all the other kneeling chairs on the market, and some with similar rocking designs like this one, we’re really having a hard time trying to explain why it costs more than double those, except for the fact that it’s made by an artisan designer. That being said, it is made out of sturdy and durable materials, plus it has an excellent warranty (7 years on the wooden frame, 2 years on specific fabric).
If you like the idea of a kneeling rocking chair but the price of this makes your eyes water, then you can opt for the lower-priced Varier Variable Balans (opens in new tab) from $379 – it’s the same chair but without the backrest.
Varier Variable Plus: User reviews
This is the kind of chair you’ll find in a specialist back shop, rather than to purchase directly online, so it is surprisingly difficult to find reviews for this exact model on the internet.
It is available on Amazon, but there aren’t very many reviews – only 7 reviews at 3.7 stars out of 5. There are, however, loads of reviews for its sister model, the Varier Variable Balans, which is very similar minus the backrest: this has 718 ratings at 4.3 stars out of 5, with 65% of those being 5-star reviews.
For the Variable Plus, satisfied customers commented on how easy it was to assemble and that it really does take pressure off your lower back. In particular, people loved having the option of moving around and the ample seating positions available. The only real negative comments were about the expensive price tag.
Should you buy the Varier Variable Plus?
We know that a proper ergonomic chair is an investment, but we just can’t get over the high price tag on the Varier Variable Plus. The thing is, it’s not a bad chair as it can really help some people with their back issues. Plus, we really did love the range of movement it offered, and we did feel more productive while using it. However, we think it’s more of a good chair to switch out with from time to time, rather than a ‘main’ office chair, as you’ll find you can’t sit on it for too long without some discomfort.
As a disclaimer, this reviewer did end up returning this chair as it flared up an old foot injury and, ultimately, at 5’2”, we were too short. If we could go back in time, we’d probably buy the Varier Variable Balans instead, although we would miss that satisfying stretch the backrest allowed for.
But if it’s in your budget and you’re aware that it’ll take a few weeks to get used to, then the Varier Variable Plus Kneeling Chair could be right for you, as many found it did help improve their posture and relieve pressure from their lower back.
If this product isn't for you
If you like the idea of moving and stretching at your desk but a kneeling chair isn’t a suitable option for you, then you might like the Gabrylly Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair (opens in new tab). The wide seat and movable armrests allow for plenty of space to perform chair yoga such as sideways bends to help combat stiffness.
Those on the taller side may want to invest in a La-Z-Boy Trafford Big and Tall Executive Office Chair (opens in new tab). It offers a thickly cushioned memory foam seat and adjustable headrest that’ll provide support and comfort all day long.
For a more budget-friendly option that still provides targeted support to your back, neck, and arms, we recommend the Ticova Ergonomic Office Chair (opens in new tab). With so many opportunities to adjust each feature – like the angle of the headrest or the height of the arms – you’ll be able to find that sweet spot just for you, all at a lower price.