Journal: News & Comment

Tuesday, August 07, 2001
# 2:28:00 PM:

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A measure of excess

A little over a month ago, I wrote here about the Aeron chairs that my current client provides for all its employees (including contractors like me).

Salon magazine now reveals that a good chunk of the billions of dollars blown by venture capitalists and small investors alike in the dot-com boom and bust went into buying those Aeron chairs. One interviewee even calls them "butt pedestals," and says that "any place with more than 10 of these things automatically went into the 'stupid' stack."

I don't agree -- there are dumber things to spend money on than furniture that keeps people comfortable -- but dozens of thousand-dollar chairs for companies that had no idea how they would ever make money does seem, at the very least, silly. I can't imagine buying one for myself.

Then again, in the antique and handicrafts tourist town of La Conner, Washington, I twice went to look at a store called The Wood Merchant, which sells a stupendously adjustable, marvelously comfortable high-backed office chair made entirely by hand from sculpted pieces of solid rare hardwood. I coveted it.

Its cost? More than $5000 U.S., or $7500 Canadian. Enough to get me seven Aeron chairs and five Office Depot cheapies to spare. Now that's excessive.


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