Sunday, May 27, 2012

IKEA office chair review : IKEA Malkolm chair

ikea malkolm office swivel chairSummary : Solid reasonably comfy office chair for maybe 1-3 hours. If you are thinking of choosing between this and the Markus chair, especially for long hours, choose the Markus.

Perhaps there are comfier office chairs for the price range (seems to be the IKEA mid-range office chair) but this is definitely in the entry-level 'comfy chair' league. Wide seating space (about 50cm/20 inches). No discomfort or bad back (like my old cheap 'executive' office chair). Can get a bit hot but overall a good desk chair to sit on for hours. Not a 'working-hours' chair (i.e. 8 hours). For that choose the Markus

My chair is the UK black artificial leather version (link to UK IKEA page for desk chairs).

Rating : 7/10
Rating per cost : 8/10
Cost : £65 at the time

Update : Jul 2015
I was using the chair for long hours and finding it pretty uncomfy for that use. I have now bought a Markus and this is a real 'long-hours' chair. If you arwe thinking between the 2 chairs, I say go for the Markus.    

The 3 main questions this video gets about the Ikea Malkolm chair

1 : Chair won't tilt at all. Stuck upright  ...
probable answer : you need to pull the up/down lever out a bit. The height lever seems to lock the chair in upright when it is fully in. Pulling the height lever slightly out unlocks it from upright (thanks to TheAlexandraGo aand anyone else who pointed this out)

2 : The side rests are missing
answer : They are in the back. Unzip to get out.

3 : Can't use the winder. It hits underneath.
answer : You pull the winder out before winding.

ikea malkolm office swivel chairI bought the plain 'black' version of this IKEA chair as my back was hurting from being hunched at the copmputer for hours in an uncomfy 'executive swivel office chair' (cost £40). Main priority was 'comfort' (I would say a comfy chair is more important than the computer). A big bonus with IKEA is that I could go and sit on their chairs as long as I want without feeling too odd. Tried out all their office chairs. Price was also a factor but I thought it unlikely I would get comfort under a certain price, so quality was more important.

Malkolm chair :
ikea malkolm office swivel chairChair is pretty robust and well-padded. It has 2 control handles : One for elevation and the other to control tilt tension. Has comfy padded armrests. I like to have the tilt at lowest tense so I can tilt right back. Padding all round is pretty substantial but can get a bit heated. I am not disappointed in the chair, it is quality and comfort. I do wonder if I could have got a comfier chair for the price but it was too much hassle to look around and I am ok to stick with what I have. The wheels are fine.

The Malkolm chair seems to be the mid-range IKEA office chair. The budget IKEA office chair seemed 'bearable' as a budget office chair in the short time I sat on it in IKEA but had much less seating space and a lower back so perhaps would not be uncomfy for sitting for hours. The Marcus chair looks like sheer luxury but is almost 2 times the price of the Malkolm. I was looking for a chair that was minimum price for comfort in all-day use.

Constructing the chair :
ikea malkolm office swivel chairConstruction took a while. IKEA instructions are basic but can be followed once I absorvb what the drawings are meaning. One sticking point was that (if I recall correct) some parts (the arm-rests ?) were inside the back of the chair. There is a zip on the back of the chair that you unzip to get to the parts. It took about 2 hours to construct. Most people should be able to construct but maybe there will be delay moments.

Controls :
ikea malkolm office swivel chairTo adjust the tilt tension : Grab the handle on the front right side and pull it outwards so that it is beyond the chair. Then you go clockwise/forward to make the chair more upright and tense. To make the chair more tiltable, turn the handle anti-clockwise/backwards.

To adjust the chair height : Handle at the back right of the chair. Use same as a normal height adjuster for office chairs

Some FAQs I notice regarding the Malkolm chair :
ikea malkolm office swivel chairThe chair has no tilt lock. if you want the chair fixed at a certain tilt. I see the Marcus does have tilt lock. You need to lean back to make it tilt (presuming you have unwound the tilt winder).

Tilting degree : tilts back about 30 degrees ? Markus chair tilts back further. Tilt does not lock. You have to lean back to keep it tilted.

Update August 2012
ikea malkolm office swivel chairI have had this year for a couple months now and I am still delighted with it. It's a chair you could sit in all day without discomfort. Can get a bit hot but it's passable as a full time chair. Probably I would go for even more expensive luxury comfort chair in the future but I am fine with this as a full-time chair.

Issues as they happen :
Squeaking (Sept 12) : Getting a bit of squeaking when I rock the chair or stand/sit etc. I'm hoping I can iron these out with e.g. grease. A minor irritant which I am sure I can fix.

Amazon UK search : IKEA Malkolm Chair


Ben said...

Good review, covers all the salient points. One thing I would disagree with, though; it only took me ten minutes to build. Simple instructions and easy construction. A great chair!

Max Payn said...

Can you tilt it to the max and make it stay that way without goin forward again ? or it has to be only upright ?

Tranquil.K.Johnson said...

It always wants to go upright but when you lean back it's pretty stable there

Anonymous said...

Do you have any problem with your casters? I just assembled mine, and the casters seem to be very tight and do not spin well. IKEA said they lock when no one is sitting on it?

Tranquil.K.Johnson said...

No I don't seem to have any problem with the castors. I am using them on carpet but they seem to move whether seated or empty.

Joseph said...

Had the same issue with the squeaking. I just opened up the back and stretched the coils out a little bit to simulate wear and it resolved the problem. Maybe it will work for you.

Pedro Carloto said...

I just bought this chair! I am finding it really comfortable, but gets incredibly hot!
After 1 hour of use my legs are burning! I am using normal jeans! Does anyone have a similar problem? I am not sure if I can keep it. In the summer it will be impossible to seat :(

ackmondual said...

My previous "heavier duty" chair was an IKEA one at $186. I thought it was a bit much to spend on a chair (although sadly, I knew I'd be spending a good deal of time in front of a computer), especially since I noticed that Staples may have comparable chairs for around $40 less if you use coupons and line up sales, but I ended up using it for a good 8 years. I was delighted to find this MALKOLM one.

Wanted a different color than black, but went with it anyways b/c I didn't want to pay an extra $30 for that privilege. Another thing with this chair is it seems less sturdy... if you kneel onto a corner, you're putting your entire body weight on that spot, and the "creaking" noises sound like it's putting stress on the underside. Wouldn't want to risk it.

It does get warm too. Although it's winter now, my apartment bottles in the heat, so it doesn't seem to be too bad. However, I reckon it won't be pretty when I have to sit in this chair during summer and the air conditioner breaks.

@Max Payn
Not really, but I do agree with Tranquil.K.Johnson's comment that if you just completely lean back, it will stay that way.

Lise Wagner said...

These are some wonderful seats. If you're searching through the a large number of choices for a new seat, but need better convenience now, you can always add a whole body cushion and get some lower back and back assistance until you choose our the new, ideal seat.

Anonymous said...

I bought this same chair just two days ago and want to use it at home for computer desk. Pros: 1-really very comfortable to sit at first. 2-very good back support. 3-height adjustment is well. 4-tilting is nice. Cons: 1-wheels-lock make it impossible to move the chair aside when you are not sitting on it. 2-The synthestic leather sticks to jaens and cottons, so when you want to make just a slight move to find the sweet spot of least painful position, the friction will not allow you to do it! 3-when typing with arms not on the desk, and when your hands move front and back over the keyboard, the chair displays quite annoying back rotation, which makes typing more difficult and stressful... The second problem causes great stress on the uppper legs. It is almost a torture. Just because of these three reasons now, I'm seriously thinking of returning it back. But I've not decided yet. For the second problem I'm thinking of using some slippery coating on the surface but when you apply full slippery coating, it becomes quite difficult to sit up right! Now I am not happy.

Green Baron said...

With hindsight I would probably go for a more expensive comfier chair. It's not a chair for sitting on long, though it is better than the cheaper desk chairs.

I am using 2 memory foam pillows to sit on and a wedge memory foam pillow for the back which makes it comfier. Maybe using cushions might help your problem.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. As a one more con, the star-legs which are quite strong, have unfortunately sharp tips which hurts your bare foot when placed on top. Since when I work at home I'm generally bare foot, and I do occasionaly put my feet on the legs of the chair, these sharper than necessary legs makes it impossible to put my feet on top of them. So I have difficulty of finding where to put my legs comfotably! These details are vital for true ergonomy. And I dont think it would improve simply by a more "expensive" model. As for these days producers get complete blind in their designs while seeking a more differentiated product! They can choose a wrong design with more eye-candy appearance instead of a better but similar design. That's a loose-loose!

Anonymous said...

Hi. I'm the anonymous. I want it to make sure that I'm still using this chair. And I think that it's a decent one. But you must give five minutes breaks about every hour. And this is true for any chair our there. No chair can turn a long hour sitting into a benefit. I changed the underneath carpet into bare floor and now it's much more swift and teh wheel lock does not posses as much of a problem as it did. It's very comfortable to sit initially, but then it gets hot. I have also coated parts of the chair to decrease friction due to leather. Now it's much better. One thing still is a problem, the height adjustment mechanism is realy hard to reach especially when you are sitting tight up... Overall it look very good and it feels more than acceptable. I don't think to give it back.

Ellen Rosenberg said...

Bought my chair four years ago. Nice and wide seat, comfortable arm rests. I covered the chair with a sheet from the beginning; didn't want it getting dirty and, if I sit on it with underpants only, my skin painfully sticks to the upholstery. Bigger problem, however, the post connecting the seat and the legs slipped into the center of the piece with the five legs and scrapes against the floor. I do not understand how this can happen. The post becomes narrow when entering the leg piece and it seems that the center of the leg piece should be the diameter of the lowest narrow part of the pole, but it isn't. The center of the leg piece is the diameter of the wisest section of the pole. What should have prevented it from slipping all the way down to the floor? I phoned IKEA and was told the warranty is for only two years, so they will not help.

Green Baron said...

sorry to hear Ellen. Not heard of that problem. I took a look at mine. Difficult to see how it would slide through. Maybe you could take it to IKEA to see if they can fix it. I doubt it though.

I have gone from the Malkolm (only good for maybe an hour or 2 sitting), to the Markus (which I didn't like), to the Volmar (which I like but would still be open to a trying other seats).

The Volmar is my default now, but I wish mine had the headrest option (my version doesn't accept the headrest). Also had to buy the arms separate, meaning more cost. But it's to the standard I expect. You can sit on this for hours IMHO.