If you pay attention to my Shortbread parentheticals, you may know that I’m not above taking cheap shots at so-called “gaming chairs.” You see, I’m from western Michigan, the home of some of the most famous office furniture manufacturers on the planet. Naturally, I grew up taking names like Herman Miller and Steelcase for granted. Around here, you just pluck freshly-made high-quality office chairs right off the line in your own backyard. The kind of gaming chairs I see hawked by streamers and the like, however, would go straight into my compost heap.
Well, it turns out someone was paying attention to my snooty opinion of such matters, and they called me out by offering up their flagship gaming chair for review. Enter the Glassy AF gaming chair from Tempered Ass. That’s right—if you thought the tempered glass trend would stop at case windows, you were very wrong indeed.
As you can imagine from the image above, the assembly process was extremely simple. I didn’t even bother to read the instructions. The chair comes flat-packed in a box just 1.5″ (3.8 cm) tall, but it weighs a hefty 40 lbs (18.1 kg). Most of that weight is carried by the two glass sheets—each of those pieces weighs 15 lbs (6.8 kg). The end result is a seat that reeks of quality thanks to sheer mass alone.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. The back and seat of the chair are made from half-inch tempered glass, apparently the only characteristic that seemingly qualifies the Glassy AF for the “gaming” moniker. The laser-cut sides are made from three-quarter-inch “premium dieboard maple,” a material that’s apparently strong enough for making steel rule dies. I guess that’s a good thing? Regardless of the undeniably-high-end material choices, the elephant in the room is figuring out who on earth would trust sitting on this asinine thing.
Can’t argue with that?
It seems as if that concern was anticipated, because the review guide for the Glassy AF contains information on the finite element analysis simulation that was run during the design process to assess the chair’s strength. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen glass move that way before. However, I’ve been assured that the animation exaggerates the actual amount of deflection, and that the color scale shows the chair is more than strong enough to be sat upon by just about anyone. That’s fine, but maybe next time Glassy AF shouldn’t show a fancy glass chair jiggling around quite so much. That doesn’t instill confidence in the product.
Looking the part
From a distance, I have to say the Glassy AF lives up to its too-cute name. It’s certainly unlike any chair I’ve seen before, and I admire its combination of elegance and audaciousness—not to mention its uncanny ability to assimilate into my décor. That said, a closer inspection reveals some rather amateur craftsmanship problems.
Note the marks where the laser stopped and started.
First up on the nitpick list are the marks that seem to denote the ends of any laser-cut curvature. I’m no expert on such things, but I imagine these marks happened when the laser was briefly turned off during the cut, or when some kind of pause happened during the cutting head’s movement due to an underlying CAD data quirk. Either way, the flaw strikes me as a mistake made by someone who’s not used to having their work cosmetically scrutinized.
Sweet refraction action.
The second thing I noticed was that the edges of the glass were pretty rough. Of course, you wouldn’t want them to be sharp, but they could stand to look better than just roughly ground down. I’d much prefer a nice fillet all the way around. As it is, the glass edges come across as a decision that was made primarily to create a piece that looks good in photos for as cheap as possible.
Where’s the sheen?
Finally, let’s talk about the finish on the sides of the chair. It’s lackluster, to say the least. Maybe the company only managed to get one coat of varnish on my review sample for some reason. I’ll have to confirm, but it’s also possible I got sent an unfinished chair that was destined to become one of the other models shown below that Tempered Ass will offer at launch. I don’t know about you, but I think the red-and-white one looks particularly sweet.
We need to switch this discussion from form over to function. When it comes to seating, though, form and function are nearly inseparable. If you’re like me, you’ve been wondering whether the Glassy AF could possibly be comfortable ever since you first saw it. Tempered Ass proudly proclaims that it “threw out the book on ergonomics” when designing this chair. Strangely, no one mentioned writing a new one to replace it. I questioned the company for the obvious lack of adjustment options and was told that the chair was “designed for the average user, ensuring equal comfort for everyone.”
I wasn’t sold on this one-size-fits-all approach to seating. That might work fine at a dining table or in a waiting room, but serious gamers need levers to flip and dials to turn, right? The arrogance of a company assuming their certified experts knew everything about the needs of personal posture didn’t sit well with me. So I recruited a few members of my household to get their opinions. That’s when things fell apart.
My sister’s cat Baxter was up first. Things got off to a rough start, as he wasn’t a fan of the slight amount of wobble the chair exhibits—though he doesn’t like my wife’s rocking recliner, either. His claws came out right away as he tried to grapple with the impenetrable surface. After repeated failures to convince him to test the chair for more than a few seconds, I resorted to bribery by means of a plate of wet cat food. Even so, Baxter vacated the chair as soon as the food was gone. Not a good start for the Glassy AF.
My older, calmer, and wiser cat Morimoto (named after the best Iron Chef) was up next. In fact, he investigated the chair of his own accord. However, after this promising start, it became obvious that he was only interested in the smell of the food lingering on the plate left on the chair. I placed him on the Glassy AF so he could inspect the minuscule amount of leftovers more closely, and after a couple halfhearted licks, he departed unimpressed and without a second glance.
Our final product tester was my wife’s cat Mal. In my mind, he was the chair’s best shot at redemption. More so than any of the other cats, Mal is a percher. In particular, he’s a connoisseur of Amazon boxes. He’s also a fan of the wobbling recliner that I mentioned earlier, and leaps up on to the back of it from the floor and gracefully stabilizes it mere seconds after his landing. Unfortunately for the Glassy AF, these preferences didn’t translate into anything but tepid ambivalence on his part. I could barely get him to stay in place long enough to take a poor photo.
After being rejected by three cats in quick succession and getting no further attention from them since (with an exception detailed below), I’m left with no choice but to call Tempered Ass’ Glassy AF a complete and total failure. I take no joy in rendering this verdict, especially since it made such a positive first impression with its good looks and sturdy materials. It’s really a shame, because I felt it wouldn’t take that much effort to transform it into something cats would truly love.
Mal’s butt can be seen laying on a box in the right side of this image.
Naturally, I took it upon myself to fix the wrongs that I found. As I suspected, all that was required was a little bit of softness. You know, something to take the edge off. With a simple cushion in place, the Glassy AF was transformed into a feline hotspot, the classiest and most coveted sleeping location in the whole house. This level of cat-hacking is not for the faint of heart, though. I possessed the significant advantage of a cushion that I already knew my cats enjoyed. Your mileage may vary.
Superfluous cat video.
If for some reason you’re still interested in the high-durometer off-the-shelf model, the Glassy AF will be available for preorder soon at the cringe-inducing price of $1,337.