As anyone who's worked in an office would know, Herman Miller's Aeron is the chair to have at your desk for both comfort and status. As a guy who's worked at his share of Silicon Valley startups the net boom and bust, I've only had the privilege of stealing Aerons from coworkers when they weren't looking; never actually being actually senior enough to sit on one full time. Things are different now, my fellow prisoners, with Herman Miller's latest creation, the Embody. Its $1600 body was designed by Bill Stumpf, who was also responsible for—among other projects—its famous predecessor, the Aeron. It's no surprise that the Embody feels very good.
First a quick rundown on design. The Embody is made from non-toxic and sustainable materials (42% recycled content), which makes the entire thing 95% recyclable. It's an extremely beautiful chair when viewed as a whole, but if you zoom in to look at each individual edge, joint and connector, it gets even more amazing. Check out the gallery above to see what we mean. The are seven different knobs, buttons and levers you use to adjust your sitting position to fit your body. or The seat is also made up of four layers.
...the bottom is a series of plastic bands providing suspension, the second is a sheet of coils for support, the third is a system hexagonal rings that shift with your weight and the final layer is a mesh that allows air circulation to keep the sitter cool.
The most important part, though, is the backrest. Herman Miller claims that "a matrix of pixels creates dynamic seat-and-back surfaces that automatically conform to your every movement and distribute your weight evenly." They claim that this will reduce stress, help circulation, lower your heart rate, improve your posture and pretty much make you a better worker. Does it work?
It's hard to say conclusively, or scientifically without a doctor actually hooking up electrodes and taking blood samples before and after using the seat. But it is the most comfortable chair we've ever sat in. You can adjust the amount of recline, the tension of the recline, your seat depth, your back curvature, your armrest positioning and how high the seat is. But you can do this on many other chairs. What makes this one special—and more comfortable—is that the backrest has individual supports. Think of a Simmons mattresses with individual coils; this adjusts and supports whatever contortions you're putting your spine through in your daily routine of reading Gizmodo. The Embody is also really, really heavy. Granted, my muscles have long atrophied to the point of uselessness, but this has got to be one of the most heavy chairs I've ever lifted up a flight of stairs. It's also very sturdy. You never feel like you're going to break the chair, no matter how far back you lean. And, if you turn the tension up high enough, you'll never accidentally feel that horrible falling sensation you get from reclining back too fast. Extremely embarrassing during meetings.
The only question left is whether or not you should spend $1,600 of your own money on this. Unless you're like us and you work at home in front of your computer for 12+ hours a day, probably not. But if you can convince your boss to buy this for you, DO IT. Tell him you'll get more work done because you'll actually not hate sitting at your desk. But you know the real reason why you want it: because you don't want to be a hunchback by the time you're 50. [Thought Pile via Herman Miller]
Notes: The Steelcase Think and Humanscale Freedom have been worthy competitors to Herman Miller chairs in the past, so they might be very good comparison chairs for you to try out before deciding which one to purchase for your office. The Embody is newer, of course, so it might have taken the best of both chair designs and incorporated it here.