COLUMBIA — A Columbia man has invented what Larry Bader, a osteopathic physician, has dubbed the perfect chair. With its vinyl upholstered padded platform, adjustable perch and symmetrical Arctic birch wood base, not to mention its lack of back support, the chair looks anything but comfortable.
Pack Matthews, inventor of the Soul Seat, understands the initial reaction most people have when first glancing at the chair. “People think that this chair is going to be uncomfortable,” Matthews said. “Until you sit on the chair, your projection of the experience does not match what it’s really like.”
As a yoga instructor, Matthews found the more flexible he was, the more problems chairs caused him. While all his friends were going through knee replacements, Matthews began working on alternative ways to comfortably do his all his work, whether it was in a yoga class or sitting at the computer.
“I was trying to devise something that could be used at a dining table or at the computer," Matthews said. "The seat went through several different prototypes. I sat cross-legged and drew around me when thinking up a design."
Matthews created the platform with his piano in mind, and the perch is flat to elevate the pelvis.
Various people have gotten a chance to experience the Soul Seat, which has been on display at various spots in Columbia, including the Boone County Fair, Orr Street Studios and the newly opened ARTlandish Gallery.
Lisa Bartlett, co-owner of ARTlandish Gallery, has known Matthews for two years and has had the chair on display at the gallery since it opened two weeks ago.
“Lisa first saw me working on the floor in Orr Street Studios and saw the earlier version of the chair as well,” Matthews said. “She has been very helpful with this entire project and has been a great cheerleader.”
People walking through the gallery have tried out the chair, and one woman wants to buy one as a gift to her mother, Bartlett said.
Beth Hammock, public relations professional, sits at the computer for most of the day and uses the Soul Seat at work. She attributes her higher productivity to the chair.
“I am a pretty athletic person, and the idea of sitting all day does not appeal to me,” Hammock said. “When I use the chair, I feel more energetic, and it helps me get more done at work.”
About two-dozen chairs, which cost $350 each, have been made. A portion of the profits goes to Personal Energy Transportation International, Inc., a company that promotes vehicles for individuals with disabilities who have no means of mobility in poor and underdeveloped countries.
“I have been volunteering with the organization for a year and a half, and we held a fundraiser for them where we raffled out a Soul Seat,” Matthews said.
“When I first sat on the chair, I loved it," Bartlett said. "It instantly straightened out my back out, and it is very natural to sit in. Pack is an idea man. He has a light bulb inside that head of his.”