Bought an Office Chair: the Herman Miller Aeron

Cross one off the bucket list: replacing my old kitchen chair with a Herman Miller Aeron ergonomic office chair.

When Belgium went into lockdown, we thought we would all work from home for a few weeks. A pasting table and kitchen chair would have to do as my temporary makeshift living room office. Five months later and we are still working from home with no end in sight.

Last month, my back pain was back, a lack of exercise of course: from my bed to my desk to my sofa. My daily step count plummeted. That kitchen chair didn’t help either so there it was again: is the iconic Herman Miller Aeron worth it? It’s one of those bucket list items I always dismissed as too expensive. That all changed when we learned we’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future.

Think of the price of a mattress — did you know you sleep for one-third of your life — and a mattress is only supposed to last for ten years. Why did I never buy an office chair? Let alone a good one.

My old wooden kitchen chair doubling as an office chair
before
The new Herman Miller Aeron chair
after

Belgian Herman Miller Dealers

Now that I had enough excuses to convince myself, how do you buy such a chair? Belgium has only four dealers, none sell the chair online. I was planning to visit the store in Antwerp, but then there was that local COVID-19 outbreak so, nope, bad idea. I tried the Aeron earlier when visiting my inlaws in Germany and I would recommend you try it first. It’s a divisive chair: people either love or hate it (the Steelcase Leap less so). I ended up buying one from a Dutch online store, three weeks later it arrived at my doorstep.

I paid €1.099 for a size B full option graphite Aeron with hard floor casters. The hard/carpet floor casters are the only choice you have with the dealers I checked, by the way, none seem to offer the other configurations. Easier stock management I suppose?

Second Hand Aeron

Later, a friend pointed me to Adopte un Bureau, a French online store that sells used second hand Herman Miller Aeron chairs for ±€600. Aparently one can find good deals on Craigslist as well but, we don’t have a Craigslist alternative in Europe.

Review

Today is my first work from home day with the Aeron.

I always had a chair without arm pads at work since these hard plastic loops tend to get stuck under my desk. The Aeron pads are soft and bend inwards so now I actually use them as armrests when typing.

The mesh seat and back are stiff but flexible, this makes the chair feels different, it moves a lot. I like it, but I can see this might be a hit or miss for some.

Adaptability is important for ergonomy. The Aeron has an adaptable seat height as you would expect. It raises pretty high: I am like a kid with dangling feet on its highest stand. The chair can be tilted backward, and my favorite, forward, the tilt tension is adjustable. The armrests angles can be rotated, as mentioned earlier, their height adjusted and move forward and backward (nice since I like to sit close to my desk). The PostureFit SL (Herman Miller’s name for the lumbar support) can be adjusted to support your back. This was an important one for me, but I haven’t found the right setting yet. It pushes more on my shoulders than my lower back than I had expected.

The Herman Miller Aeron is way, way better than my kitchen chair, but is it worth the premium over a midrange office chair? I am sure exercising is a more efficient and cheaper solution to get rid of my back pain, but I do like the Aeron a lot.

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