Mesh back chairs have a devoted following, which includes yours truly. The superior airflow and the feel of the back on a good mesh back ergonomic chair is my personal favorite. With that said, this is not a blog entry about mesh back chairs. It is about two chairs that achieve the same airflow benefits as a standard nylon mesh chair, but do it in different ways: the ErgoCentric AirCentric and the Knoll Generation chair.
The AirCentric was designed as a sort of hybrid between a conventional foam cushioned back and a mesh back chair. Back support is provided by a honeycomb foam plate. This allows air to flow through the holes in the honeycomb. The net result is a fairly rigid back with a prominent lumbar support that still breathes. Because it is an ErgoCentric, the chair offers their suite of advanced ergonomic features at a great price. These include optional energy absorbing foam seat, height and depth adjustable headrest and multi-tilter mechanism. If users can acclimate to the stiff feel of the back, this chair is a good choice.
The Knoll Generation is essentially a mesh back ergonomic chair without the mesh. In its place is a polymer webbing that feels something like soft rubber to the touch. This makes the chair back super flexible, conforming to the back. It is strong enough to provide great support though. I sat in this chair for over a month and was very impressed with it. Two upgrades I definitely recommend, however, are the ultra seat foam and the high performance arms. Both of these are major improvements over the alternatives.
So if you like the idea of a mesh back ergonomic office chair, but want to consider something a bit outside the norm, either of these are great alternatives.