Steelcase Karman Chair Review

The Steelcase Karman Chair is an ultra-lightweight, flexible, high-end office chair offering maximum comfort

Steelcase Karman
(Image: © Collin Probst // Future)

TechRadar Verdict

Steelcase's Karman chair is one of the more unique chairs I have tested. While most chairs thrive from rigid frames with comfort slapped on top, the Steelcase Karman is the opposite. The Karman chair has a flexible frame, and supportive two-source materials that help keep you seated comfortably at all times.


  • +

    Interesting flexible frame and seat

  • +

    Breathable fabrics

  • +

    Unique design


  • -

    No firm back support option

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The Steelcase Karman is pretty unique compared to the other chairs on my "best office chair" list. This chair is mostly mesh, has a flexible frame, and conforms to and moves with my body - making it as much a physics lesson as a chair, as Steelcase utilizes weight activation to help respond to whoever is seated, allowing for the best seating position possible.

Steelcase Karman

(Image credit: Collin Probst // Future)

Unboxing and First Impressions

Unboxing the Steelcase Karman could not have been a more effortless experience. I opened the box to find the chair fully assembled, ready to go without any tools needed. I pulled back the box flaps and quickly saw the product fully assembled and ready to be used. I was impressed with the red/blue color in person, as I didn't expect it to look as unique as it does.

Even as I was taking this chair out of the box, I noticed it was very flexible. I'm about 6ft 1in and about 210lb, and sitting in this chair the first time, admittedly, after four or five times of sitting in it the first time, I still did not get used to the flex. After about the fifth time sitting in the chair, I relaxed and let the chair do what it was designed to do.

Steelcase Karman

(Image credit: Collin Probst // Future)

Design and Build Quality


Dimensions: 39 - 43.5 x 26.125 x 26.125in
Seat Height: 15.875 - 20.375in
Maximum Load: 350lb

The Karman chair has what Steelcase refers to as "LiveBack" built into the chair's backrest. This technology balances the user's body weight across the chair while supporting the user's spine, granting comfort and fit in a way that a standard, rigid seat cannot do. Part of how Steelcase does this is through the previously mentioned flexible frame, which contorts to you, rather than you twisting to the chair. When sitting, I felt as if I became one with the chair, as it became an extension of me, rather than just something I rested my body on.

Steelcase makes the Karman with a unique blend of mesh and fabric that the company calls their "Intermix hybrid" blend. There are many different colors, and all have a unique look. Beyond just looking fantastic, this mix of materials helps the chair breathe while staying incredibly sturdy amidst the bendable frame.

Steelcase Karman

(Image credit: Collin Probst // Future)

In Use

Having sat in many chairs (even over just the past year alone), some have been incredible, some incredibly disappointing. Most of them, however, have had a rigid frame with cushioning around to soften, or the frame will be around the back with some flexibility and comfort through the mesh in the middle. Steelcase uses a flexible frame that contorts itself, within reason, to my body. It's hard to describe just through words, but having a chair that flexes to you while supporting you is pretty impressive. I can only describe it by saying that the chair almost hugs my spine and back when I sit down.

Another positive feature for the Steelcase Karman is its Comfort Dial. This controls the backrest's resistance as I push back into it to recline. After a few minutes, I could dial this in to be fantastic for my back and preferred settings.

Moving on, the 4D armrests are helpful and not too loose. Frequently, we have seen arms with this much mobility be too flexible and, therefore, not enjoyable to use. However, these armrests are a nice balance of mobile and sturdy. I can adjust the arms to where I want and trust that they will stay there unless I intentionally move them.

As a whole, this chair has taken a little bit to get used to, but once I took some time to dial things in, I genuinely enjoy it. It's very comfortable, and though very different than my other chairs, it's quickly become one of my favorites to switch to throughout the day or use for an entire day. The ability for this whole chair to flex and bend to conform to me is something that I would not have expected from an ergonomic chair, but it's a welcome feature.

Steelcase Karman

(Image credit: Collin Probst // Future)

Final Verdict

The Steelcase Karman chair is a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture. It remains supportive and comfortable while flexing and bending with your movements. The chair is stylishly unique, lightweight, and comes pre-assembled for a hassle-free setup. Overall, it looks and feels great while providing excellent back support, but this does all come at a high price.

Collin Probst

Former TechRadar Pro B2B Hardware Editor, Collin has been in journalism for years, with experience in small and large markets, including Gearadical, DailyBeast, FutureNet, and more.