The Herman Miller Aeron is the ultimate desk chair — adjustable, comfortable, posture-reforming, the lot. It is also, however, extremely expensive, so you’ll have to consider that when you look at picking one up for your workspace.
Super-comfortable and supportive
Arms are perhaps a little low for the long torsoed
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There are so many icons when you think about furniture. The Eames Lounge by Charles and Ray Eames, the Egg Chair, and the classic Chaise Longue on which you can be painted like a French girl. In terms of modern office furniture, there is one design that is instantly recognizable — the Herman Miller Aeron.
First developed and released in 1994 by designers Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, the Aeron is about as recognizable as an office chair could possibly be. From its metal skeleton to the mesh that you sit in instead of a cushion, the Aeron is the standard for office chairs everywhere.
It’s also, since 1994, received a bevy of different updates that make it more ergonomic, better for your posture, and, more recently, better for the environment as well in a 2016 refresh using greener materials. So, now in its 30th year of existence, just how good an office chair is the Herman Miller Aeron?
Herman Miller Aeron: Price and availability
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: The Aeron is not cheap. The chair starts at $1275, and that's just the base model with none of the fancy extras that you can get. For that, you get the ‘essence’ of the Aeron. All the posture, comfort, and aesthetics but none of the modern conveniences. Add in the extras, such as a multi-directional tilt mechanism, adjustable lumbar support, adjustable arms, and leather arm pads, and the price quickly rises all the way up to $2340.
There are multiple color and material options as well — and you can get one at a range of authorized Herman Miller retailers. The best place to go, however, is the Herman Miller website. There, you can spec your chair or choose one of the pre-specced ‘off the shelf’ models. The model we have is the Mineral/Satin Aluminum color option, with the Adjustable PostureFit SL, Tilt limiter and Seat Angle, and the Fully adjustable arm options specced. That is a $1985 chair. We did say they were expensive.
Thankfully, at the time of writing this review, there is currently 20% off in the US store — so you’ll save a very tempting $400 off our model.
Herman Miller Aeron: The build?
There was no build — It comes fully assembled. We have left this section for one reason, however: Because carting the chair around a house or even a slightly cramped office is awful. This is not Herman Miller’s fault, but it will require some planning on your part.
Where we might usually recommend that you spend the time to build the office chair where it’s going to end up, here you have to work out a route from the front door/delivery zone prior so that you’re not frantically moving stuff around as you try to find the best place for your new chair. The legs that hold the castors are, strangely, the most awkward, with the medium size that we’ve got clocking in at 26.5 inches — getting them through a door is annoying. If you’re able, remove the door before you take the chair through. You’ll thank us later.
Once it’s there, it’s there — and it’s unlikely you’ll want it to leave the room it's in. Until you move house. Or office. Or both.
Herman Miller Aeron: Features
If you get the base model, then you can effectively avoid most of this section — there’s not much extra. What you do get is the adjustable height, changeable with a small lever on the side of the seat. That’s your lot! Take your weight off the chair, grab the little plastic handle, and then find the right height for you. Honestly? That’s probably all you really need, letting you get that right angle knees, feet to the floor posture. It feels super sturdy and well-made, which is a bonus.
Get some of the other adjustment options, and you’ll find a super adjustable chair delivered to your door. The first is the tilting mechanism, and there are loads of options. First, you can change the resistance of the tilt, so that you have to put more effort into tilting the chair. Dial that in, and then move to the other tilt options. First is the backward tilt, controlled with the larger part of the knob on the left-hand side of the chair. Click that backward, and you can lean back to really get that ‘thinking about important work things’ look and feel. The whole chair shifts to accommodate the recline as well, and it feels not only extremely solid but organic as well. You can lock the tilt at any angle with the knob, clicking it forward again.
Then there’s the forward tilt, accessed by the same knob. There’s a small section of the knob, and you click that forward to unlock the tilt. Lean forward to whatever angle is comfortable, and then click the knob back. Tilt back and then it resets and relocks itself. Again, it is super smooth and very reassuringly sturdy.
Next come the height-adjustable arms. Forward, backward, and side-to-side are easy — grab the armrest, and move it in the direction you want it to go. Sorted. To change the height, you grab a little lever at the back of the armrest mechanism, click it open, and then pull the arm up or down. Lock it into place with the little lever, and the job’s done. The arms are plush but supportive, and, thanks to their metal arm, feel like they’re going to last a very, very long time. My only complaint here is that they went a little higher — I have a very long torso, so my elbows are a little higher up than some people's when I sit down.
Finally there’s the PostureFit SL on the back of the chair, controllable with a knob on the side. That changes the lumbar support in the back of the chair — which is two segments of cushioning that can push more or less into your back, keeping the right shape for good posture. The knobs work well, and dialing in the perfect posture support is super simple.
Features-wise, the chair is second to none. There are oodles of adjustment options, and they all work very well and feel incredibly premium while you change them. Getting the perfect sitting position is very easy, and it will make sure that sitting in it for long periods will be way better on your back than other options you can choose. Bear in mind, however, that for pretty much all the of the options I’ve got here you’ll have to pay more — to tune of roughly $1000.
Herman Miller Aeron: Comfort
This is what it all boils down to though, isn’t it? How good does the chair feel when you’re sitting in it? Is it comfy over the workday that you’ll undoubtedly be spending in it?
In a word — yes. In a few more — you’ll need to get used to it first. See, the Aeron is unlike (or at least was unlike, before a myriad of copycats started trying their hands at it) any other office chair out there. Instead of a cushioned surface on which you place your behind, there is a stretched, soft mesh that supports you over the mechanism below. When you first see it, you wonder how on earth it could ever be considered comfortable, let alone good for your posture — but then you place yourself in it, and it all makes sense.
Again, it’s different from a cushion, so you have to get used to the sensation. Once you are accustomed, however, you’ll soon find a supportive seat that shapes itself to you, giving you just what you need while you sit in the chair over the course of the day.
If you get the non-adjustable rear, then you’ll find the backrest much the same. It’s that same mesh stretched to shape, which hugs you and puts you in the best position like nothing else you’ve experienced. Even the base model is shaped for good lumbar support, but the added bits you get with the Posture support options are game-changing.
I’ve long had back problems, and while the back pillow I used with my previous chair was good, this is next level. Easy to adjust so that it fits my back perfectly, the time I’ve tested the chair has been some of the best hours of sitting I’ve experienced. I don’t get up at the end of the day with a sore rear or a creaky back, and I don’t feel like I’ve been sat down for the length I really have been. I do try to mix my standing and sitting — I stand up for five minutes every hour to get the blood pumping around my body, but the chair makes my routine feel like I’m doing more good than ever.
It encourages you to sit up straight so that you’re not hunched over, and as a habitual shrimp posture gremlin, that can only be a good thing. I am transformed after my time with the Aeron, and that is no exaggeration.
Herman Miller Aeron: Competition
At this price? There’s not much. There are the also expensive and popular Humanscale options, but we haven’t tested those so we can’t comment on whether or not you should buy one. There are always some super premium gaming chairs, the most popular of which are the Secretlab Titan line.
We’ve tested those, and they are excellent — they might not hold a candle to the Aeron here, but they’ll also cost you south of $1000, something that might make all the difference for you.
Gamers might also be interested in the all-blacked-out gaming version of the Aeron — although you'll still be paying top dollar for one.
Herman Miller Aeron: Should you buy one?
You should buy one if…
- You want the best office chair, bar one
- You have problems with your posture and back
- Price doesn’t matter to you
You shouldn’t buy one if…
- You want a cool racing/gaming seat
- You don’t want to spend more than $1000
Herman Miller Aeron: Verdict
If you’re spending lots of time sitting on your desk chair (and lots of money on an osteopath), then the Aeron is the chair that you’ve been looking for. Save up for it, expense it, steal the Declaration of Independence — it’s really worth the price you pay.
Of course, as good as it may be, that price is going to just be far too much for some people — and there are plenty of options out there for them. For those that can afford it, there really is not much better than the Aeron.
Office chair brilliance
Make no bones about it, the Aeron is a costly beast — but for the most comfortable and supportive chair you would expect to pay a lot of money. It's sturdy, long lasting, and good for you — the best around.
As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.
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