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Hands-on review: Boulies Effectual Series office chair


Are you sitting comfortably? We are.

If a job involves a great deal of sitting down – which is practically every office-based job – top of the list of priorities for any employee should be a good chair.

What constitutes a good chair in 2023? An ergonomic, body-friendly design is crucial. Breathable materials, so you don’t get sweaty in summer. Adjustable neck and lumbar support. Fully customisable height and seat. Padded armrests. Plus, ideally, it also needs to look good, suitable for office and home use. It’s 2023: there’s no reason for functional furniture to look offensively pedestrian.

The new ‘Effectual Series’ office chairs from Essex-based Boulies ticks all these must-have boxes. We’ve been testing one for the last couple of months, using it all day, every day, and it’s been a revelation. It’s front-of-desk predecessor was totally fine, or so we thought, but it’s never coming back now. It has been usurped.

With ergonomic intent, Boulies’ Effectual chairs are designed to be comfortable for long periods, supporting a healthy seated posture. Of course, we should also be standing up at regular intervals (and there are, naturally, desks to assist you with this), but invariably it’s the back and bum that are taking most of the daily workaday strain.

Boulies Effectual Chair Inline 3

Image credit: Boulies

The all-over synthetic mesh design is cooling and breathable; also wipe-downable (very important in a tea-driven work environment). Adjustable in almost every direction, the chair sits atop a smart five-spoke aluminium wheelbase with five good’n’solid black plastic wheels that responded well to our rolling demands, across a variety of surfaces (rug, carpet, laminate wood flooring). This might sound minor, but wheels that have one job but don’t do it well might as well not be there at all.

The full 360° of movement are possible, spinning around à la Kylie, and the gas lift cylinder that operates the raising and lowering of the seat is “top class”, according to Boulies. Our knowledge of gas lifts pretty much starts and ends with this chair, but it’s been working like a smooth champ for us to date, so no complaints.

One observation worth noting is that the sticker on the lever on the right underside of the chair suggests that to raise and lower the chair, the operator needs to pull upwards: ‘Lift to adjust seat height’, it says. We pulled and pulled, to the point where we were concerned about snapping the lever off. Or perhaps we’d incorrectly installed the supplied gas cylinder? You have to assemble the entire chair yourself, following one of those vague pictogram leaflets that speak to people of all countries, and it’s not an entirely straightforward process, the chair being quite a large and heavy object.

In the end, we accidentally nudged the lever forward – essentially, more like rotating it clockwise – and the seat suddenly shot down to its lowest setting with us still in it, a comically surprised expression now on our face. Since we learned this lever trick, it’s been very easy to operate the lift to precise height increments, each acknowledged by a satisfying puff from the gas cylinder.

Boulies Effectual Chair Inline 1

Image credit: Boulies

The rest of the Effectual chair seems almost infinitely adjustable. The soft-touch plastic armrests are very nice and can be rotated on the horizontal plane outwards and inwards, as well as forwards or backwards, to help you find the perfect position.

The backrest has four different angles – 95°, 113°, 125°, 135° – of vertical positioning, which are selected by simply pulling out that same lever as had us bobbing up and down. Find your sweet spot and then push the lever back in to lock the backrest in place. It’s very easy – and take it from us, 135° is incredibly laid back! You could freelance as a dentist with a chair at this angle of inclination (but you shouldn’t, obviously).

The headrest cushions the neck nicely when you lay back. Most of the time when typing or reading, you’re likely to be sitting more upright, so the headrest is not in constant contact with the back of your head and neck. When you want to lean back and close your eyes or take a refreshing nap, the Effectual’s head rest is there to cradle and support your lolling melon.

The head rest is adjustable in the vertical sense and also rotates to help you find the perfect angle. With the same mesh cover designed to be breathable, the plastic frame behind it is not solid. Whether this was intentional or not, we’ve found it useful to be able to reach our arms back behind our head and easily grab the headrest at each end to adjust it.

The only negative observation is that at its maximum vertical extension, the headrest doesn’t stay in place. Instead, it drops down a centimetre, so we have to readjust it every time we want to lay back. This feels like the result of basic gravity – we’ve noticed the same behaviour with headrests in a lot of cars. It’s only a minor inconvenience, but the truth remains that you can’t lock the headrest in place.

The seat itself also slides in and out, and there’s full lumbar support – the firmness of which can be controlled via a dial on the rear of the chair, much like many car seats these days – so a short period of experimentation will teach you everything you need to know about this chair’s charms.

Boulies Effectual Chair Inline 2

Image credit: Boulies

Recommended for humans with a height of between 165-190cm and a maximum weight of 135kg, the Effectual Series chair will do well for most people. Obviously, the closer you get to those recommended statistics – or if you exceed them – you may enjoy less flexibility. For anyone comfortably in the zone, though, it’s a great working chair.

Boulies also talks up the chair’s gaming potential and for sure, anything you might conceivably use a chair for, the Effectual will handle it with aplomb. At £280 RRP, though, you’d have to be taking your gaming furniture needs fairly seriously to lay out that kind of investment. Mostly, the Effectual Series chairs are intended for business business.

If that sounds like you, with a two-year warranty and 14-days return policy, Boulies seem keen to get you seated in one of their chairs and are then prepared to stand by the quality of the product. That’s reassuring, especially in these straitened times.

An office chair might not be the most exciting purchase you’ll make all year, but it could be one of the most important. Given that you will probably spend more time sitting on your work chair than with any other piece of furniture – with the possible exception of your bed – getting a good, supportive model is crucial. Available in either a black or grey finish (both pictured above), Boulies’ Effectual Series chairs are definitely worth considering in your search for the perfect seat.

Boulies Effectual Series chairs


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