Keilhauer Junior Review

Keilhauer Junior front view

Every so often a chair comes around that challenges what you think you know about seating.  Designed by Tom Deacon, the Keilhauer Junior does just that.  This chair has a back unlike anything else on the market that may likely inspire chair design for years to come.

FEATURES/OPTIONS:

- Adjustable back height

- Adjustable tilt tension and tilt lock

- Forward tilt

- Knee tilt recline

- Back supports the spine while allowing complete shoulder freedom

- Height adjustable and pivot arms available

- Back available in plastic or upholstered

REVIEW:

I knew I had to try this chair as soon as I saw it.  I hate chairs that have so much upper back padding (“support”) that they force your shoulders to roll forward.  The Keilhauer Junior is like the polar opposite of that.  The back design supports your spine without limiting your shoulder mobility at all.  I frequently stretch out throughout the day by lifting my arms out to the side (like a letter “T”) and stretching them backward while pulling my scapula together.  I can’t do that in a lot of chairs, but the Keilhauer Junior may in fact be the most stretching-friendly chair I’ve ever sat in.

Keilhauer Junior side view

Keilhauer Junior side view

The knee tilt mechanism is nice.

The chair I used had a plastic back, but it is also available upholstered.  I suspect the upholstered version may be a bit more comfortable.  Not that the plastic was uncomfortable, it was just a little hard.  But let me explain; the back itself is actually flexible so that it flexes with you when you lean back, it’s just hard on the surface because it’s plastic.  It feels noticeably harder against your back than a fabric chair, and the plastic is not as soft and flexible as some other plastic-back chairs such as the Herman Miller Sayl.  But at the same time, the Junior’s back is more supportive than the Sayl’s.  I would actually like to try out the upholstered version.  If it provides the same support as the plastic version while being just a tiny bit softer, that would be ideal.

The plastic back flexes a little as you recline and there is no way to adjust the resistance.  You can adjust the recline tension, but you cannot adjust the resistance of the plastic itself, so if it is too stiff or too loose for you there’s nothing you can do to change it.  The back is also a bit more vertical than in most other chairs, so it may still be in contact with your back even if you’re sitting perfectly upright.  Most chairs have a default back angle of around 95-100 degrees.  The Junior’s is closer to 90.  Whether this is a good thing or not will depend on the individual user.  It’s different, but sometimes different is good.

The arms go up and down and pivot in and out.  Not the most adjustable arms in the world, but they were comfortable to adjust.

The chair feels a little smaller than most other chairs on the market.  I wonder if the name “Junior” is in reference to the size.  I am just under 5’10″ (177cm) and weigh 165lbs (75kg) and the chair fit me well.  I suspect that if you are over 200 pounds or so you may not be quite as comfortable.

Keilhauer Junior quarter view

Shown with upholstered back and fixed arms

This is a chair that supports good posture.  If you tend to sit a bit diagonally in your chair you may be disappointed since the shape of the Junior’s back sort of limits how you can sit.  If you like to sit sideways in the chair sometimes (with the back to your side) and throw an arm over the back of the chair, you won’t be able to do so here.

PROS:

- Adjustable back height

- Adjustable tilt tension

- Tilt lock

- Forward tilt

- The least restrictive back I’ve ever seen on a chair; stretch out your arms and shoulders all you want!

- Available without arms

- Innovative design; a definite conversation starter.  Everyone who sees this chair will want to sit in it

CONS:

- May be too small for larger users

- Doesn’t support leaning to the side as you change your sitting posture throughout the day

- The back may be too much for some people since it is more upright than many other chairs

VERDICT:

If you always sit up without leaning to the side, and you want your spine to be cradled, this may be the chair for you.  And if you hate chairs that restrict shoulder movement, you will love the Keilhauer Junior’s back design.