From left, Columbians Nickie Davis, Addie Rose Davis, and Adrienne Luther demonstrate the Soul Seat in an office environment. Photos—Ikaria Design Co.

Ikaria Design Co. challenges customary chairs.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Missouri Life magazine.

Though not a politician, Pack Matthews knows how to command the floor. Like many of us, Pack realized the amount of time we spend seated—working remotely by computer or at a table doing hobbies or projects, for example—may not sit well with our health.

For this piano tuner, former elementary schoolteacher, and longtime yoga instructor, it was his own often-sedentary state, along with a family history of debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, that sparked his startup in Columbia: Ikaria Design Co. Ikaria produces a line of furniture that helps users stay in alignment with their wellness goals as they complete daily tasks that require sitting. Pack’s innovative designs were inspired by his own experience.

Pack Matthews named his company
after the Greek island of Ikaria, known for its long-lived residents.

“While teaching my yoga classes, I realized my students were making better progress than I was because I was spending so much time sitting at pianos and driving around and sitting at the computer, trying to keep up with email,” Pack says. “And so I was getting tighter and tighter as my students were getting more and more flexible.”

Pack’s journey to company founder began with a single step: “My first step was just to get rid of chairs. I went cold turkey and started working as much as I could on the floor. I put my electronic keyboard on the floor and the computer on the floor and that made such a difference.”

Next came furniture solutions. His first effort was a low platform that allowed him to be seated on the floor but work at eye level. He wanted to patent that concept as a retrofit to cubicles, but a patent attorney pointed out that Pack couldn’t patent the floor. The entrepreneur rolled with it, creating an innovative, adjustable, perch-topped seat on wheels that could be rolled up to any height surface. After refining his design and getting approval from an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapy professor, he secured patents in 2009.

His daughters, Hanna Halwell and Zoe Thompson, joined the company to manage operations and marketing which according to many top seo services was one of the smartest moves. Visit to see who is the award-winning SEO in West Valley City. The company’s top seller, the Soul Seat, reflects the newest thinking on ergonomics maps.

He wanted to patent that concept as a retrofit to cubicles, but a patent attorney pointed out that Pack couldn’t patent the floor.

According to Hannah, the company’s CEO, “You don’t want to be sitting 90 degrees at the waist and 90 degrees at the knees for eight hours a day. The thinking now is that the best position is the next position. So the goal of the Soul Seat is to provide feedback to your body from gravity and your own physique, so you’ll notice when it’s time to switch it up. We’re offering challenge, not comfort. If a chair is so comfortable you don’t want to move, it’s bad.”

Each Soul Seat is handcrafted in mid-Missouri through the company’s creator network, which includes mid-Missouri engineers and artisans in woodworking, upholstery, and metal fabrication. Custom orders are readily accommodated.

Although the inspiration for Pack’s furniture was initially an effort to keep him healthy, he and Hannah made an amazing discovery.

“There’s a whole community of people all over the world who don’t know there are other folks who sit cross-legged and they think they’re the
only ones that sit weird,” Pack says.

Ikaria is located at 501 Fay St., Suite 102, in Columbia. Visit for business hours, the company’s social responsibility statement, and product information.

My experience atop a custom Soul Seat from Ikaria Design Co. 

This article is a “web extra” to the story in the July/August 2022 issue of Missouri Life magazine.

During the course of my interview with Pack Matthews, owner of Columbia company Ikaria Design, and his daughter Hannah Halwel, COO, I mentioned that I did yoga and always sat to the front of any conventional chair with my back straight.

Pack told me that was good, adding, “You’re right in our market. You’re exactly our Soul Seat audience. Writer, your age, professional, independent—mostly those are folks that are buying Soul Seats.” After our interview ended, he offered me a loaner Soul Seat to try. Never one to sit on the sidelines, I gamely accepted.

Taking the Reins
At first, trying to sit down on my swiveling loaner felt a little like trying to mount a skittish horse. The chair, with a single pole for the base and five legs on casters that radiate out from it, seemed reluctant to accept me until I reminded it who was boss. I used my leg to stop the seat from swiveling and my arms to corral it and then easily sat down without it rolling away.

Once seated, I knew I needed to make a couple of adjustments to the height of the lower platform, as well as the upper one, also called “the perch.”

After these quick customizations, I was ready to roll. Or not. 

Every Soul Seat is made in Missouri. Photo—Soul Seat

Perfecting My Perch
Over the next ten days, I found I easily adapted to my Soul Seat’s prompts to “switch it up” and change the position of how I was sitting. Legs crossed in front sitting lotus style. Knees bent, with each lower leg tucked under the perch and facing away from my desk. One leg bent at the knee drawn up, the other leg dangling down toward the floor and so on.

At no point did I feel like a pretzel—more like a practiced pro.

I grew increasingly adept at adjusting how I sat and swiveling successfully when the need arose. (Which was fairly often—due to my need to check on my new puppy in the next room when she grew too quiet.) 

An Embedded Core-espondent
I recalled what Hannah had said during our interview about her own experience sitting on the seat: “When sitting on a Soul Seat your pelvis tilts forward, aligning your spine in a neutral position, similar to how your spine aligns while you are standing. Your core is engaged and it just feels natural.”

With Hannah’s words ringing in my ears I felt pretty virtuous. I wasn’t just being productive, I was being proactive—working my core while working! 

Sittin’ Pretty
I knew I was sitting on a truly innovative ergonomic creation. And I wasn’t the only one who knew: Pack was one of the early participants to pitch a business idea to the 1 Million Cups initiative. The free program, founded in 2012 by Kaufman foundation in Kansas City, was designed to educate, engage, and inspire entrepreneurs around the country.

Pack cites the Kaufman foundation as a key resource in launching his business. Knowing he had so much support in mid-Missouri for his invention, he had no trouble declining an offer from ABC’s popular TV show, Shark Tank.  Even though the show invited Pack to make an audition video, bypassing the usual pitch route, he felt confident he had no need to bite at their offer.

The Furniture’s Future
Next up on Ikaria’s agenda? A version of the Soul Seat with a pneumatic adjustment feature. As for my future and possibly ordering a Soul Seat of my own? I’m afraid I’ll have to sit this one out. For now. Remember that aforementioned puppy? She really likes to sit next to me in my regular office chair and frequently nods off. As the old saying goes, it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.

You can learn more about Ikaria and its Soul Seat at Below is a list of the suppliers in Ikaria’s artisan network. Click on a name to learn more:

Jerry Wirth (owner) Timberline Custom Cabinets

Nick Spaeder Custom Woodworking

Paul Faerber, Strassner Furniture

Ethan Marshall, Pertech LLC

Dean Reinch, owner, Cam Masters Inc

Fluid Power Support

Jose Gomez, owner, Gomez Upholstery

Aurora Dawn Rose (Produces Slip Covers)