I Got a New Desk Chair. Let’s Look at Its Assembly Instructions

October 8, 2015

Because I am a young(ish) and cool guy who works mostly from home, it’s imperative that I have a workspace that reflects my young and cool status. Our new apartment better provides this critical feature than our previous one, and just this week I completed my cool guy workspace with the acquisition of a proper desk chair. It is a chair that says, “that guy. I bet he knows what’s up.”

Cool guy workspace with proper chair.

Cool guy workspace with proper chair.

I submit the following photographic evidence that my workspace is, indisputably, the kind of rad place a guy like me should have. It’s a bit of a dark picture, but consider the following:

  • Sleek black walnut desk
  • Unified technology look with stylish, aluminum-accented keyboard, trackpad, laptop and monitor. None of that piecemeal business for me, thanks. I’m cohesive.
  • Both a nice set of desktop speakers and high-end wireless headphones because sometimes you need to share the jams and sometimes you keep them to yourself.
  • Soft lighting to encourage deep thinking and creativity (also made with aluminum, obv)
  • Modern shelving with books for inspiration and plants to encourage serenity.
  • NOT PICTURED: White filing cabinet, but you know it looks good because that is the manner in which I roll.
  • Lastly, one dope office chair to let you know who’s in charge. (Me. It’s me. I am the one in charge)

The office chair was the cherry on top of my workspace sundae, but it required the small labor of assembling it. This was not a difficult task, but the included instructions were, perhaps, a bit more amusing than intended. It left me wondering about the process of writing them and also about what might be wrong with me that I found them so funny. Let us delve into the strange and wonderful world of mass-produced office furniture assembly instructions.

Aren’t you glad you read this blog?

Friction and Pressure

Pictured first are the instructions in toto, but I will be breaking them into their contingent parts for in-depth study and critical analysis. Let us begin.
Chair Instructions

Title and Step 1

Chair Instructions - TitleThe first thing that rises to our attention is the apparent title of the document. “Assembly Instructions Chair.” Some interesting decisions here. In conventional English, we might expect to see “Chair Assembly Instructions.” Another reasonable choice might be to use some sort of separator between “instructions” and “chair,” like a dash or a colon (e.g. Assembly Instructions: Chair). Instead, it’s as if the word “chair” is an afterthought, and we’re left to wonder about the author’s intentions. Does he or she even care about the chair? It’s a bold choice, avant-garde even.

Chair Instructions - Step 1Now let’s look at the actual instructions, beginning with Step 1. Numbered parts which correspond to each required item, steps telling you to attach this to that, etc. This all seems pretty straightforward, but notice the last line. It reads:

(3) and (4) will stay together by friction after the chair is used for the first time.

In other words, to finish putting the chair together, I need to sit in it. The instructions are asking for a leap of faith of sorts. They are saying, “trust us. When you sit, everything will be just fine.” I wish there was a fourth line to this step that said:

If (3) and (4) fail to stay together, it’s not your fault and they still love you.


Steps 2 and 3

Now let’s look at steps two and three together. The main point of interest is the dire warning:


Three exclamation marks is a lot of exclamation marks. What happens if you do tighten one out of order?


Chair Instructions - Step 2
Chair Instructions - Step 3

Chair Instructions - Step 4

Step 4

Lastly, we turn to Step 4. I love everything about Step 4. It begins with this:

Place the top parts of the chair over the bottom parts, making sure the tip of the gas lift enters in the hole of the mechanism.

All I read was “top parts,” “bottom parts,” “tip” and “hole of the mechanism,” and then I giggled like the sixteen year old I still am in my brain. These aren’t really even double entendres, but does that stop me? NO! “Hole of the mechanism” would be the worst euphemism for anything. I am both immature and gross, and that is just fine with me. Sorry.

Finally, we end where we began.

The chair will stay together by friction and pressure after it is used by (sic) the first time.

Once more we are instructed that the chair will magically hold together if we’re willing to just trust it, only this time it’s relying on both friction and pressure. The chair is saying “smother me with your butt pressure, and I will support you.” This is not how most successful relationships work.

Dear Abby – should I be worried I’m putting too much pressure on my chair? It says it likes the friction, but I’m not so sure.


I wish to give credit where it’s due. Despite everything I just said, this chair was very easy to assemble, and it’s pretty comfortable. Mission accomplished. But, as is sometimes the case with mass-produced goods, I was given something beyond a decent looking chair. After following the instructions to the letter, including sitting in it to give it the friction and pressure it so desired, I discovered the item pictured below. Now, this little guy is not pictured in the instructions anywhere, so I can only assume it is a gift from the manufacturers, a tiny crown for me to wear while sitting on my new throne or perhaps a failed attempt at a commemorative Magneto replica helmet. Who knows? Life needs such mysteries from time to time.

My crown of chrome

My crown of chrome

A Magneto prototype?

A Magneto prototype?

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