Everything You Need to Know About Herman Miller Chairs
Engineered with supercar precision, Herman Miller chairs have earned an enviable reputation amongst office designers and desk staff.
Renowned for their comfort and style, the American chair maker has enlisted the services of biomechanics, physicians, and all manner of designers to create their range of defining ergonomic office chairs.
The dynamic support provided by Herman Miller chairs has been linked to improved posture, the ability to think more freely, and an enduring comfort that lasts over extended periods of use.
Ultimately, Herman Miller have made office chairs cool and healthy, and that’s no easy feat.
What is the best Herman Miller chair?
Asking which Herman Miller chair is the best is a bit like asking which Ferrari or Rolex is the best. Certainly, there will be people out there who claim there is a definitive car or watch which beats all the competition, but most would agree that it’s a matter of preference.
When it comes to Herman Miller chairs, there’s plenty of choice to form a preference from. For some, the minimal styling of the Sayl Chair makes it a clear favourite. For others, the flexibility and intelligent pressure distribution of the Embody makes it the superior chair. Of course, there’s more than a few traditionalists who maintain that there will never be anything that compares to the Aeron, an office chair so iconic that it features permanently in the Museum of Modern Art.
To get a better idea of which is the best fit for you, take a look at the features of the following Herman Miller chairs.
Herman Miller Sayl Chair:
Styled in collaboration with Yves Behar- the celebrated Swiss designer behind countless iconic industrial products- the Herman Miller Sayl chair offers all the good looks and ergonomics of a classic Herman Miller office chair at a more economical price point.
Inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge and named after its resemblance to a mainsail, Yves made the unusual decision to provide a suspension tower to provide support to the user. The use of this tower meant that flexible elastomer suspension material could create tension at the points which require the greatest amount of support. Conveniently, the areas with the least amount of tension are those which the user should be moving more freely.
Delivering a more passive version of Herman Miller’s patented PostureFit sacral support, the Sayl chair allows the user’s spine to assume and maintain its natural ‘S’ shape to improve posture and reduce fatigue. Allowing the user to easily stretch and remain active, the unframed back ultimately encourages movement whilst at the same time cradling the user into a healthier sitting position.
The design of the Sayl chair has the added benefit of reducing the amount of materials required to build one. Creating a more minimal look whilst being kinder on the environment aligns perfectly with both the aesthetic and values of contemporary workplaces.
Naturally, the stripped back styling of the Sayl chair means that it isn’t designed for heavy daily use in the same way that other models in the Herman Miller range are. Ultimately, this is a chair more suited to casual use and is a better fit for boardrooms than offices. There is, however, an optional lumbar support that offers adjustment over a 10cm range and makes the Sayl far more enjoyable to sit in for extended periods of time.
Available in an assortment of colours, the suspension back can be customised to complement the surroundings of the workspace it’s being introduced to. Once delivered, there’s also a great deal of tuning that can be carried out to ensure that it offers the greatest amount of comfort to the user. Indeed, the seat height and depth can be adjusted and the tilt tension can be refined.
Remaining hugely popular ever since it won the category for ‘Best Workplace Seating’ at the FX International Interior Design Awards in 2011, the Sayl chair owes its enduring success to its incredible comfort and outstanding good looks.
It’s a legacy that’s shared by all Herman Miller chairs.
Herman Miller Aeron Chair:
An undisputed legend in cool office design, the Herman Miller Aeron chair has become shorthand for workplace sophistication.
Reported by Bloomberg to be “America’s best-selling chair” in 2010, the Aeron began life in 1994 as a chair designed to ease the common aches and strains that seniors experience. Interviewing a large sample of retirees, Bill Stumf and Don Chadwick -the chair’s designers- were told that the ideal chair would be easy to get in and out of, would be friendly to joints, and would maintain a cool temperature.
Combining these demands, the two designers went away and designed a chair that featured a breathable woven suspension frame, adjustable armrests, and a well-engineered tilt mechanism. Eschewing traditional office chair materials like foam and leather, their revolutionary concept led to the creation of an office chair that provided the user with greater freedom and support. It wasn’t just about producing a cutting edge piece of furniture, it was about creating a chair that was healthy too.
But it turns out that it isn’t just the elderly who enjoy sitting comfortably.
No, it’s the thousands upon thousands of people who have to spend their days sat at a desk to earn their crust, that appreciate fine ergonomics. To say office workers embraced the Aeron upon its release would be an understatement. What would be closer to the truth would be that the Aeron was caressed and canoodled by the suits and ties.
Indisputably a status symbol in Silicon Valley, the chair came to define the landscape of the dot com startup. It wasn’t just the corporate world that got wrapped up in the hype, but the outside world too. The chair became so firmly entrenched in the popular culture of the nineties that it made cameos in Will and Grace, The Simpsons, and Frasier. Quite an accomplishment for a piece of office furniture.
Like a classic record, the Aeron was treated to a remaster in 2016. Driven by the same ambitious demands that inspired the original, the updated version embodies twenty years of feedback and an even more informed understanding of the science of the body.
In particular, it features an 8Z Pellicle membrane with eight variable pressure support zones for better comfort and breathability, a renewed PostureFit SL to enhance lumbar support, and is capable of delivering deeper armrest configurations. The remaster is also far easier to make adjustments to than the original Aeron chair.
Altogether, the remastered chair was reengineered to provide greater health benefits, a more impressive performance, and a greater longevity.
In an obituary for Bill Stumf, the New York Mag described how the Aeron ushered in “a new paradigm of office chairs.” Instead of accepting that a swivel chair had to accept its status as a stuffy and necessary component of the workplace, the Aeron proudly declared that “office chairs can be comfortable and they can be cool, too!”
It continues to shout this message from the rooftops today.
Herman Miller Embody Chair:
Take the time to search for the Herman Miller Embody chair, and you will find plenty of those willing to sing its praises. From corporate clients to vloggers, the embody has received testimonials across the board to support its claim to be the best office chair ever made. But, of course as we have covered, what is the best office chair, or in fact the best in any category lies in the eye of the beholder.
Designed by Herman Miller royalty, Jeff Weber and Bill Stumpf made it their mission to ensure that form didn’t just follow function; with a creation that does not only show the technical structure behind the scenes but highlights them as an integral part of the chair’s form.
The Backfit, resembling the spine of the chair, transforms this often overlooked office addition into a living breathing part of the workforce, with its flowing structure encouraging seated movement.
With customisable features such as the frame and base finish, along with good choice of upholstery colours ensures that Embody fits seamlessly into the office environment. Its carefully thought out design lends itself to many different body shapes and sizes, meaning it is a great choice for those trying to find something to suit a wide range of staff.
The ergonomic design is purposeful and strong, whilst offering a level of comfort that seems to grant itself effortlessly. This natural connection of great design and ergonomic features, is something that has seemed elusive to many of Herman Miller’s competitors over the years.
Creating a synergy between mind and body whilst supporting productivity has once again been mastered with the creation of the Embody chair.
Herman Miller Mirra Chair:
With the clue in the name, the Mirra Chair set out to mirror the user’s movements with its unique materials and design, that moves along alongside the body that is using it. With over 1.5 million chairs now sold, this innovative design was, and continues to be a leader in a very competitive market.
Following on from its predecessor’s initial success, the Mirra 2 follows the same mantra, creatively using material to fit and move around the user, offering seamless support and ergonomic benefits. With a new generation of chair, the designers at Studio 7.5 have given particular thought to the usage of the materials and their sustainability. Retaining its agility and individualisation was paramount, but thanks to full scale testing the Mirra 2 take responsible design to a new level thanks to its use and reuse of materials. Studio 7.5 take the view that “every molecule counts” and by maximising style and function, whilst using the least amount of material possible, this mantra has been fully supported.
How much is a Herman Miller chair?
Just like the supercars which inspired their design, the cost of a Herman Miller chair totally depends on the optional extras that are added to it. The addition of things like premium upholstery, roll soft castors and mineral frames will all determine how much a Herman Miller chair costs.
In short, the price of a Herman Miller chair will depend on how many customisable elements are required.
Is an Embody better than an Aeron?
There have been plenty of attempts to settle the argument of whether the Embody is a better office chair than the Aeron. Such attempts, of course, are deeply flawed. Indeed, these two chairs offer two separate sets of benefits. To determine which of the two is best would be a classic case of comparing apples and oranges.
What is possible, however, is to compare the two chairs and identify which features will benefit you most.
For office managers who need to equip a large body of staff with new chairs, the Embody is perhaps the better choice. Designed to fit a broad range of body types, the wide applicability and impressive functionality make it a suitable choice for a bulk order.
When it comes to individual or a low number of units, the ability to customise arm type, tilt and back support makes the Aeron a far more appropriate choice. Available in three different sizes, the Aeron can ultimately be styled to perfectly accommodate any user.
When it comes to the subject of comfort, the thick frame and mesh upholstery of the Aeron creates a soft yet firm sitting experience. The frames on either side of the chair can produce a slight discomfort in the hips and thighs of some users as they work to correct posture, so this is certainly worth considering ahead of purchasing one.
Equipped with a much larger seat and possessing no firm frame, the flexibility of the Embody ensures that every user is properly positioned and comfortable. Nicely breathable and boasting an impressively pixelated support system, the chair adapts to the weight and movements of whoever happens to be using it. This technology creates a feeling of weightlessness that makes working far more enjoyable.
Altogether, the Embody is a chair that offers a far more traditional style of upholstery than the contemporary mesh design of the Aeron. Featuring a well-engineered support system and four-layer seat, the Embody undoubtedly provides a more comfortable sitting experience.
What all of this means is that the Aeron is a better fit for those who plan to spend the majority of their time typing and carrying out tasks at their desks, whilst the Embody is more suitable for those who require an office chair for less intensive uses.
Is the Aeron the best office chair?
As previously stated, it wouldn’t be possible or accurate to define any office chair as “the best”. It would, however, be fair to say that the Aeron chair is the most iconic office chair in the world.
A permanent fixture at the Museum of Modern Art, making a cameo in an episode of The Simpsons, and featuring in all manner of movies, there simply isn’t any other office chair that has impacted popular culture in quite the same way as the Aeron.
Once described as “the dot-com throne”, the Aeron dominated cool workspaces in the nineties and remains the chair of choice for tech-savvy and fashion-conscious offices of today. Thanks to its incredible versatility, seemingly infinite number of adjustments, and unreasonable good looks, there’s no reason to assume that any future office chair will usurp the throne.
Where are Herman Miller chairs made?
Committed to U.S manufacturing, a lot of Herman Miller chairs are made in America. Specifically, they’re built in a factory based in Zeeland, Michigan where the business started back in 1905. Whilst the manufacturer has production sites in Europe as well as Asia, it’s commitment to ‘American made’ products has earned Herman Miller a place in the respected ‘Made in USA Hall of Fame’.
Are Herman Miller chairs comfortable?
As countless customers and critics will attest, Herman Miller chairs are incredibly comfortable. With science and ergonomics at the heart of every design, the Herman Miller brand has become synonymous with office chairs that deliver outstanding comfort whilst at the same time looking fantastic.
Which Herman Miller chair should I choose?
As we have discussed, which Herman Miller chair is best for you, really depends on personal taste and your personal requirements.
With its design heritage, the Aeron certainly sets a certain air of sophistication which is hard to match, however the Embody appeals to those looking for a good all-round solution, particularly in and office situation that requires a one size fits all approach.
For agile and modern office spaces, the Mirra or Sayl chair proves a great choice, with their variety of colours and keen price point.
Which is our favourite? Well that would be telling.