The Herman Miller Aeron Chair
I recently was smart enough (or dumb enough, depending on who you ask) to lay out some serious cashish and buy myself an Aeron from Herman Miller. I'm having so much fun with it that naturally I figured I'd write an E2 review!
First of all, let me just point out that you can find all sorts of technical information and specs on the Aeron at Herman Miller's website, at http://store.hermanmillerred.com. This writeup will concentrate more on my impressions of the chair.
The short form: it kicks ass. This is without a doubt the most comfortable chair I have ever used, and as a lazy-ass computer professional and analyst, I've plunked my behind in plenty of 'em.
The Aeron comes in three sizes and a couple of versions. The sizes (referred to as A, B and C with no relation to the Prisoner episode of that name) should be chosen based on user weight and height. There's a chart at Herman Miller to help you decide. The three sizes are pretty much the same price; I think at some times the C size (large) is like $50 more.
There are three main reasons that the Aeron is so damn comfortable. They are, in turn:
I'll start with form. This chair looks kinda funny. It looks funny because a) its a pretty complex mechanism and b) it has been designed to support your body at a number of points, and to provide as much back support as required. In addition, it looks funny because of the materials used, but that's for later. The chair is grey-black metal and composite (although I understand colored versions may be available for bulk buys). It has a plethora of levers, knobs and the like to control its various functions. It is, in fact, complex enough to look cool, especially if you're a geek. It would look right at home in a clockpunk environment.
The functions? Myriad. The full-on Aeron can be adjusted in the following ways:
- tilt limit
- tilt tension
- arm height
- arm angle (yaw angle; each arm can pivot around its rearmost point to three different angles)
- forward tilt
- Lumbar support height
- Lumbar support depth
Mine does everything except tilt forwards, which I had tried but don't miss. It's essentially a 5 to 10 degree tilt, max, and doesn?t lock. It's primarily for those who spend a lot of time leaning forward over their work - designers, drafters, etc. Those of us who use computers will (should) spend most of our time sitting upright working or leaning back thinking.
The tilt is nice. The seat and seat back tilt, whereas the arms actually remain level. This makes reclining and typing on your lap easy. The seat and seat back tilt in sync, so as to 'cup' your butt. The seat itself angles up at the front when tilting as expected, so you don't find yourself sliding forward. In addition, the best tilt feature: you can set any arbitrary tilt angle to be the 'limit' of tilt motion. Gone are the days of either using muscle power to remain at a reasonable angle or tilting yourself far back enough to fall over or be unable to work.
Lumbar support is had from an insert on the back of the chair that can be slid up and down to adjust the point of max support. In addition, the insert can be flipped over; one side is deeper than the other, allowing you to choose the more comfortable support depth.
The arm angle is mostly useful for getting in and out of the chair but still being able to rest your arms on it close to your legs when seated. One thing I hate about most chairs is that to have the armrests in close enough to use, you have to struggle to get out of the damn thing (especially if, like me, you got a bit of a fat ass). These swivel easily out of your way and back in, and have enough of a detent not to move when you put your arms' weight on them.
Height adjustment is a gas lift system, standard on office chairs. While seated, moving the control allows your weight to lower the chair height; moving it while standing causes the chair to lift up to its maximum height smoothly.
the seat and seat back are made up of a sort of composite mesh that Herman Miller calls 'pellicle material.' Don't ask me, I have no idea what that means. All I know is that the material flexes enough to conform to your body shape, but is rigid enough to put your weight on safely; it also (being a mesh) doesn't allow heat to build up between your bum and the chair (or your back and the chair). Gone are the days of sweaty shirts. This is one reason the chair is called 'Aeron.' Think of it as air conditioning for your behind. Works, too! Update: dannye, who is also a proud owner, wanted me to let you know that the pellicle seat is also the bees' knees for 'unforced farting.' This is quite true; plus, the lack of upholstery allows the gases to escape rather than take up residence in the fabrics underneath you!
The armrests are padded plastic, quite comfy. The mechanisms of the chair are heavy metal (steel, I'd guess) and, with the exception of the gas lift, work almost silently. Herman Miller appears quite confident; there's a 10 year warranty issued with each of the things, so I'm not too worried about breaking it (unlike that POS from Staples that I got for $149 - but I digress).
Although it's expensive - typically (in quantity one) between $699 and $899 US if purchased direct online, slightly more at retailers - this chair is worth every damn penny I've spent on it. I work while sitting. I sit most of the day. I have found that since getting my Aeron, not only do I feel better but I even sleep better at night since my body is more relaxed. I expect to have it for at least the 10 year warranty period. Looked at that way, it's $75/year for seating bliss; surely, cheap at the price. I recommend this thing most heartily to any home office worker, or to anyone who can get their company to buy them one.