Herman Miller Chairs | August 3, 2005

In a recent post I mentioned that because I spend a very large portion of my life on a computer, I want to make sure I have the best system available. I was going to use the analogy of the travelling businessman wanting to get the most reliable, conformable and fully featured car available, before moving swiftly into the over used comparison than Apple were the BMW of the car market. Owned by people series about their cars.

However I realised that despite my fine words, I wasn’t actually practising what I preached. Sure I had a nice computer, and lots of cool gadget. However my working environment was less than comfortable because of the cheap lump of plastic and foam I laughingly call an Office chair.

If my Apple is the BMW of computers, what is the BMW of office chairs? Well in my mind there is only one answer. It has to be the Aeron by Herman Miller.

Aeron chair by Herman Miller

The Aeron is a design classic, as seen in advertising agencies, PR companies and architects studios all over the world. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of you gracing one as you read this post.

Unfortunately I’m no hot-shot creative director with a loft apartment and a six figure expense account. So an Aeron, however nice, is a little above my budget. However the Aeron does have a younger sister in the shape of the Mirra.

Mirra chair by Herman Miller

While not quite as flash as the Aeron, it still looks pretty slick, and is supposed to be just as comfortable. So I fully expect this to be the next in a long line of expensive gadgets I obsess about for ages before finally biting the bullet and splashing out on one.

Posted at August 3, 2005 1:11 PM


Dale Cruse said on August 3, 2005 2:02 PM

I have had an Aeron chair in my home office for years. At one point I realized that I spent more time each day in my chair than in my bed - and that made the decision easy. I made the plunge and have never looked back.

Can’t afford it? How can you NOT afford it?

Andy Hume said on August 3, 2005 2:07 PM

Look pretty sweet, both of them.

I’m just waiting to get my hands, or indeed arse, on RR’s chair now you’ve sneaked him away from Multimap - you dirty rotters. ;)

John Nunemaker said on August 3, 2005 2:13 PM

I am sitting in the aforementioned Aeron right now as I read this thinking, “mmmmmm….I love my Aeron.”

David Horn said on August 3, 2005 2:16 PM

There’s some Aeron’s on eBay with the ‘buy it now’ option at under 300 pounds. I got mine on eBay a while back, and wouldn’t hesitate to get a 2nd hand one again - they’re so robust …

… one of the ‘good’ things to come out of the 2000ish crash (when I got my chair), was that an awful lot of companies had invested in Aerons rather more heavily than, say, good products - these companies went bust, leading to an aeron influx on eBay. Hurrah!

Dave S. said on August 3, 2005 2:20 PM

Timely! I’ve been seriously mulling picking up something with the Herman Miller name on it; the price tag is rather a lot, but given the amount of time spent in it, seems a worthwhile investment.

I have heard nothing but praise for the Aeron, but in the interest of balance, I’m still looking for some negative reviews to see if there might be issues that aren’t as frequently discussed. It’s been tough to find them, which strikes me as a good sign.

cody lindley said on August 3, 2005 2:21 PM

I have own a Aeron in the past, but currently sit in a Mirra. You have chosen wisely. In my opinion they both fit&feel the same.

Rimantas said on August 3, 2005 3:05 PM

And listen to this: http://itconversations.com/shows/detail230.html

imaginex said on August 3, 2005 3:11 PM

I had an Aeron in my old office, and have bought a Mirra for my new office. The Aeron is about 40% more expensive than the Mirra. Sure, you can see where the money went: the Aeron has a different grade of materials, fit and finish. But I believe the Mirra is the better chair.

The Mirra is as comfortable and adjustable as the Aeron, but betters it in two respects: I would also recommend the Latitude fabric, which takes the coldness off the plastic surface of the Mirra’s Triflex back (+£75, a thin fabric layer in assorted fruit flavours.) Choose a contrasting back colour and fabric colour to preserve the futuristic look!

Andy Budd said on August 3, 2005 3:21 PM

I did look at eBay, but all the sellers were in London and understandably wanted the chairs picked up. The thought of wheeling a chair onto the underground, round Victoria and on the train back to Brighton didn’t appeal :-)

Andy Budd said on August 3, 2005 3:22 PM

David Horn said “aeron influx”.

Sounds like a Manga movie to me :-)

Jeff Hartman said on August 3, 2005 4:10 PM

My Aeron just arrived about an hour ago. It’s excellent.

I went to the local Neocon show in Chicago intent to sit in as many as possible so I could see which I preferred. I defintely found the Aeron much more comfortable than the Mirra.

Other options I liked were the Zody chair by Haworth (not available until December though), and the Leap chair by Steelcase.

I suggest you find a local tradeshow or showroom that has all the models you can think of in a central location and then test them all out.

Glen C. said on August 3, 2005 4:10 PM

Hmmm, those look pretty slick, but are they really that comfortable? Without any padding on the “butt part” it seems like it would be kind of uncomfortable.

Bruno said on August 3, 2005 4:15 PM

I have also considered buying one for myself but I am not sure the mirra is woth the $699 price tag and $899 for the aeron sounds a little crazy, I spend about 9 hours every day on the computer and I know how valuable and healthy it would be, but again, right now I can’t justify spending close to 1k on a computer chair… even though I have the money.

I am pretty sure my fiance would have a heart attack if she found out… LOL

Justin P said on August 3, 2005 4:45 PM

Equating Apple to BMW fails to make me think good things about Apple, has this analogy been around for a while? When I think BMW, I think of a car that looks really beautiful, but breaks down frequently and is expensive to repair.

Herman Miller is a little evasive on prices, how hard can it be to work a typical retail price into that sidebar? Since they had room enough to duplicate most of the sidebar items (Products, Research-Design, Ways to Buy), you’d think they could just list a price. Hmph.

Stephen McKenna said on August 3, 2005 5:15 PM

I’ve got an Aeron at work and a Mirra at home. They’re both great chairs. The Mirra has a few more controls than the Aeron: more adjustable arms, seat lip adjustment, and the flexible back is awesome. It also has better locking mechanisms for the arm height. My Aeron’s left arm tends to sink after a few days from leaning on it.

The only minus I have for the Mirra is that the plastic backing is a bit stiff for long periods of time. However, it’s surprisingly comfortable for what you might think a plastic backing would feel like.

My vote: get the Mirra. It gets bonus points for being 100% recyclable.

Josh B. said on August 3, 2005 5:42 PM

Am I the only NOT impressed with Aerons or Herman Miller? Sure, it’s well made and nice looking stuff, but WAY overpriced.

Terry Majamaki said on August 3, 2005 7:34 PM

I’ve been using the Aeron chair at home for the last 5 or so years and I can’t live without it. Every time I’m visiting another office and I have to sit in some cheap office chair I realize that the cost of my Aeron chair at home is well worth it. It really saves my back and allows me to be comfortable all day. Besides its makes for a good tax write off.

Dave said on August 3, 2005 7:47 PM

I thought I had a Herman Miller - Aeron chair at home but after reading this post I looked at mine and saw that it says Hirman Meller - Airon. That’s the last time I by a chair from the lousy street vender.

BenJ said on August 3, 2005 9:41 PM

I was lucky enough to get in on some trickle down ergonomics when a previous employer was merging and moving to new offices. Aerons for $75-$200 (depending on whether you got in before or after the office manager got yelled at).

I really should’ve bought two so I could bring one in to my new office… Though a benefit of having a not-great chair is that I tend to get up and walk around a bit more.

Maxine said on August 3, 2005 10:00 PM

Just do it Andy: they don’t make pockets in shrouds and all those hours you spend sitting in the cheap lump of plastic and foam agonising over this decision could have been spent in creative comfort in your new chair!

Chet said on August 3, 2005 10:10 PM

We just bought an Aeron for our home office. Definitely the BMW of chairs.

Adrian said on August 3, 2005 10:40 PM

When I first moved to the States and was needing a chair I noticed an Aeron in the office supply store just around the corner. It had a tag on it saying 187 which I took to be the price only to find upon enquiring that it was a serial number. Did sit my arse on it and very happy it was too!

wayne-o said on August 3, 2005 11:20 PM

I am sat on a very uncomfortable stool from Ikea, the 1980’s Skoda of the chair world. If I had any sense I would part exchange the bugger but, alas, office furniture is the last thing I am thinking of when I am not sat at my PC. Its an endless loop I have been intermittently concerned with for quite a while. Maybe this weekend I will write it on the back of my hand and thus overcome my short term memory loss, maybe I’ll forget again!!

Dan said on August 4, 2005 1:24 AM

Those Aerons look nice but I’m hesitant on that price. I’d have to test one out to see personally if it’s all that and a bag of chips.

Currently I’m planting my tush on a LazyBoy office chair circa the mid-70’s (it’s even colored a brownish/orange). It was my Grandpas chair he used for his Architectural work untill he gave it to us during a move. Regardless of it’s age, I have yet to sit in a finer office chair.

Dave said on August 4, 2005 1:32 AM

I use a vintage Eames armshell rocker and I love it.

Jens Meiert said on August 4, 2005 9:13 AM

Made me think about this. Of course, it is important on what chair one sits (and at least at home, my chair is not worth being mentioned). Are these Herman Miller chairs really that comfortable and robust?

Rob Waring said on August 4, 2005 9:15 AM

XYZ “were the BMW of the market”

Probably not as neither of the things mentioned are the default choice made by people to whom brand snobbery is more important than getting the best possible product. Also seeing as noone has mentioned it yet, have you looked at the Recaro office chairs? They’re also pretty flipping expensive but you do get a fully adjustable Recaro for your office which must rank as pretty cool.

Veerle Pieters said on August 4, 2005 11:27 AM

If you are looking for a chair that not only looks good but is also ergonomic go for the Thatsit™ Balans® from STOKKE. I’ve been using them for years and my back has never been happier. I have mine since 2000 and they look like new. Pictures are here

Ian said on August 4, 2005 2:34 PM

Yes… Aeron for me, I’ve had this chair for over 5 years, the leather arm rests probably need replacing but apart from that its as good as new and because after Ive fiddled with websites or selling books on ebay I then stay at the same desk and write music on the computer so without this chair, my back would be in a bad state. Love the chair you sit in.

Ryan said on August 4, 2005 2:45 PM

I tried an aeron for about a month but found it put the back of my thighs to sleep no matter how I adjusted it. Something to do with the curve of the seat of the chair. I returned the chair and looked at a few others. I recommend checking out the Steelcase Think chair. Its cheaper than the Aeron, about 500$ and its quite comfy.

Paul Goscicki said on August 4, 2005 2:53 PM

I am saving for one of those chairs too… They are much too expensive :/

Tony said on August 4, 2005 4:09 PM

I used to work for an office furniture dealer/interior designer. We sold a competitor to the Aeron that I think is much more comfortable called the Skye from Kimball.

It has a fully adjustible seat pan, the tension can be adjusted with one hand without crouching over, it has an optional headrest (and even a recliner-esque footrest, which I never had the joy of trying out), and fully adjustible lumbar support.

In my opinion, having sat in both, the Skye outclasses the Aeron in pretty much every area.

But, like the Aeron, it is seriously expensive.

Nick said on August 6, 2005 6:50 AM

I had the same dilemma a while back. I got my Aeron on Ebay. Although it still wasn’t cheap it did save me a lot of dosh compared to retail prices. We also have a couple of Freedom chairs by Humanscale in the office. Not bad but I still prefer the Aeron.

matches said on August 8, 2005 11:56 PM

I am in love with my black on black Mirra. If the Aeron could be considered the BMW of chairs, then the Mirra would surely have to be the Acura - in most respects as good as the BMW, in some respects better, and a lot cheaper. I think the reason HM doesn’t give prices is there’s such a variance. Room & Board carries the Mirras for about $150 more than what I paid for mine at a local office supply store. But whatever you end up with, it’s worth it.

Trev said on August 9, 2005 4:02 PM

I just went through the same process, trying to decide between the Aeron and the Mirra. In the end, I decided to go with the Mirra after watching the adjustment videos on the Herman Miller website. The adjustments on the Mirra just looked easier, and I was definitely impressed with the seat depth adjustment. I’m expecting to get the Mirra in a few days, and I can’t wait to replace the $100 fabric-and-foam-back-destroyer chair that I currently use.

Trev said on August 11, 2005 9:58 PM

Just an update … I received my Mirra chair today, and I’m happy to say that I really like it after using it for a couple of hours.

I opted for the fully adjustable model, which has the adjustable arms and flexfront seat - and I highly recommend these options. What mine does not have is the forward tilt feature, but I’m not missing it.

Setting up the Mirra was very easy, and it only took about 5 minutes to get it adjusted. I cannot believe how much this chair has improved my posture, and I feel as though I could sit here for many hours. My favorite feature so far is the tilt lever on the left side. If I pop it back, I can use the Mirra like a rocking chair and sit back while I’m on the phone. Also, the plastic back is surprisingly comfortable, and I love the adjustable lumbar support.

Of course, YMMV - but the Mirra is a great fit for me.

Michael Murphy said on August 12, 2005 1:23 PM

As Dave S. points out, this is timely info. I’ve been hearing ads for these chairs quite frequently lately but had never seen one. They are obvious quite attractive but I’m more impressed by all the positive comments about them.

Michael Murphy said on August 12, 2005 1:25 PM

As Dave S. points out, this is timely info. I’ve been hearing ads for these chairs quite frequently lately but had never seen one. They are obviously quite attractive but I’m more impressed by all the positive comments about them.

Michael Murphy said on August 12, 2005 9:02 PM

Not to spam your comments but here’s another post. Try http://www.sitforless.com/ They’ve got those chairs cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen them. Not sure where they are or what their shipping policies are.
PS- Sorry about the accidental duplicate posts above.

jeremy said on August 15, 2005 5:46 PM

I’ve been sitting in an Aeron for about 6 years now; my wife used to work for Herman Miller - the employee price was around $350 (fully loaded); ours literally fell off a train (a cargo container of chairs was blown off a train, and the entire container load couldn’t go to the customer, so were slated for the company store for liquidation - we got ours for $50). One thing to note about the Aeron specifically - there are three frame sizes for varying body sizes. Most companies don’t order them to size, however (generally just ordering the mid-sized frame). So quite often, the complaints about numbness and the crossbar are just the result of a mis-sized chair.

The reason Herman Miller doesn’t give prices is that most of the adjustments are optional, so the range on pricing can be huge. Since they don’t sell direct to consumers, is it worth putting a cost calculator out there for public consumption? Probably not.

robert said on August 16, 2005 2:19 AM

i own a mirra. before i bought the mirra i was torn between the mirra and the aeron. i received my mirra and am quite pleased. i’ve been thinking of going for the aeron, but from what i’ve read i think the better bang for the buck is the mirra. you get all the same comfort with a somewhat toned down design which in my style, it has more design than the aeron.

if anyone else out there has a mirra please post your review, especially if you’ve compared it to an aeron. i’m not sure if i should keep the mirra or go for the aeron.

Ike said on August 17, 2005 12:04 AM

Are there any headrests made for the Aeron chair?

Ike said on August 17, 2005 12:11 AM

A little secret about the Aeron chair and how to tell what size a chair is without looking. Put your fingers under the top lip at the top of the chair back…kind of like how you would pick the chair up by the top of the back…on the underside of the surface there will be either one, two or three little Braille dots…these are for size A, B and C respectively.

I can just see all you readers out there getting up from your Aeron to check for bumps… ;)

Don’t forget…let me know if you know any company that makes an optional headrest for the Aeron chair.

kucchi said on August 18, 2005 11:06 AM

Since two years I own a Mirra and I have to say that this chair is so comfy that I also watch movies with this chair!
Here is an interesting review of the Mirra chair:

Bruno said on August 18, 2005 1:32 PM

Hey Andy, did you decide/buy a chair yet?

james said on August 20, 2005 4:21 PM

The Aeron is the BMW of seating in that it is overpriced and has no unique features not found elsewhere. Yes there are better and cheaper chairs out there, but good luck finding them, the Aeron is readily available and good enough.

As noted above, the Aeron comes in three sizes so get the right size. This is one of the benefits of the chair. No matter how many adjustments a chair has (Steelcase, I am thinking of you) there is no substitute for the right sized chair.

Things to know:
- Most of the adjustments do not lock, and those that do can slip.
- The top of the line model has a double stack gas cylander (for height adjustment) that gives the chair a longer range of adjustment then it needs and the added slop makes to flop around like a dead fish.
- You will either love or hate the synchro tilt feature. Personally, I prefer to set the seat and back angle separately.
- The ventilated seat and back make for a cool design, I mean that literally. It is a great for warmer climates and bad for cooler climates.
- If the PVC arm rests are still available, get them. They are very comfy and very durable as is the mesh seat and back (more so then one would think).
- It will not roll on carpet without a chair map, the cylinder sits too low and will catch on the carpet.
- It is overpriced, but then so is all of Herman Miller’s products.
- The Eames chairs are good alternatives and look better (though also expensive because they are Herman Miller products).
- Be wary of knock-offs.
- The lumbar support works well enough, make sure to get that.

The earlier post that complained of numb legs probably had a chair missing its foam padded ‘waterfall’ or he may have had a chair that was too big. It is a hack design, but the foam pad that is wedged under the waterfall works well enough. But, if you sit in a chair long enough with you feet not on the ground, you will get numb legs. This is a big problem with many chairs, they just don’t drop far enough.

I have had my Aeron for seven years, but switched it out for a no-name $99 chair that is more comfortable for working in (computer work). After laying dormant for a few years, I found a new use for the old Aeron, as a gaming chair. I have the top of the line model with the extra cylinder. That lets me drop the seat nearly to the floor and sit in it like a beach chair. Best gaming chair ever.

Andrew Green said on August 23, 2005 1:56 PM

Just to add to the melee, I’m sitting on a Mirra right now, and it was worth every penny.

Davy McDonald said on September 2, 2005 3:28 PM

Co-incidentally I happen to have visited a college friend’s new design studio today and they bought about 10 of the Herman Miller Aeron chairs (obviously they are doing very well then). I had the chance to try one out, not enough time to adjust it properly but most impressive nonetheless - definitely adding it to my iWant list.

This purchase is rapidly moving up the list as I endure the discomfort of what I laughingly refer to as a chair on a daily basis.

Jason said on September 7, 2005 10:07 AM

I love my Aeron chair, which I bought second hand through the web from a reinsurer in the city opposite the Gherkin building for £280 a year ago. Just one question, when i raise the chair up it seems to wobble slightly in the column. Has any one else found this and is there a fix?

captdef said on September 27, 2005 11:36 PM

Simply complaining a bit to my office manager got me an Aeron for “ergonomic” reasons. Of course it’s fairly easy to make the case when you’ve been diagnosed with tendonitis previously.

Just a few weekends ago I picked up a used Aeron at a garage sale. $40 (US). Can you believe it?

scott said on October 7, 2005 8:18 PM

I have used the Aeron Chair and found that it isn’t as comfortable as the Mirra. Both need a cover because they are COLD to sit in.

What is revolutionary though is getting a truly ergo chair. There are millions of cheap office chairs out there that are just barely better than standing up.

If you really want the same relief but for a fraction of the price look at earlier high-end ergonomic chairs such as the Herman Miller Ergon. It can be found on Craig’s List or ebay for $100 or less and they are amazingly comfortable over years of computer work. Way back in the 80’s and 90’s they were the $500… and they are still worth it.

Mukesh said on February 28, 2006 7:21 PM

I have a Mirra which is too big for me—is there someone with a Mirra or an Aeron that is too small for him/her who is willing to swap? Mine is in excellent condition. It just doesn’t fit, and therefore causes pain in mid-thigh and hip. I would be looking for a size B or A since I am 5’6” and 145lb.

Mukesh said on February 28, 2006 7:22 PM

I have a capucchino Mirra which is too big for me—is there someone with a Mirra or an Aeron that is too small for him/her who is willing to swap? Mine is in excellent condition. It just doesn’t fit, and therefore causes pain in mid-thigh and hip. I would be looking for a size B or A since I am 5’6” and 145lb.
Thanks a bunch!

robin said on March 16, 2006 7:38 PM

I have the same problem as Jason. Major wobble when the seat is raised high — which is how I sit in the chair because I don’t have a keyboard tray. Is this a flaw? I’ve e-mailed Herman Miller and their customer service rep says it’s normal — but it sure doesn’t feel normal to wobble this much.