You don’t even have to know much about chairs to have heard about the Herman Miller Aeron. It redefined the meaning of the word ‘ergonomic’, there are over 7 million Aerons sold in 134 countries. It also occupies a position in the New York Museum of Modern Art. What does it stand for? A piece of art that was first considered abominably ugly, and then undeniably beautiful. It represents the fleeting notions of aesthetics in the human mind, and how we ascribe value in the social context.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, universally considered to be one of the top self-help books of all time, further popularized the story of how the Aeron rose to success. Market research predicted that it would have an unprecedented flop, and then it turned out to be Silicon Valley’s most coveted chair.
The History of Herman Miller’s Aeron
Herman Miller was basking in the success of one of their previous chairs, the Equa, which many competitive brands had copied and tried to recreate; when they decided to create the ultimate ergonomic chair design. They reached out to Bill Stumpf to design a new chair that was vastly different from what had been created so far.
At the time, the chairs that were in high demand were those that represented the high-status of the executives and high-level employees sitting in them. People associated leather upholstery chairs, with luxurious high backs and plush padding as the grandest and throne-like chairs for people of high power and status.
Herman Miller went the opposite direction with Aeron. Instead of creating an expensive luxury chair that symbolized power, they created the Aeron that looked different from any other chair. Made from pellicle which was a high-tech mesh, the Aeron had a low back and wide shoulders. There were a lot of things that simply looked off about the chair: notably that the arms were attached to the back instead of the seat. The lack of plush upholstery was most shocking, as most people felt that the Aeron looked sparse and uncomfortable.
Even though the Herman Miller had been specially designed and engineered to be the most ergonomic chair in America, and incredibly comfortable: there were test subjects who rated it a 4.75 (out of 10) on comfort. People said the Aeron looked alien and uncomfortable. Herman Miller got their test subjects to spend longer than an average day with the chair since they supposed the subjects had been operating from a place of bias — and they were right. After a whole day of sitting in the Aeron, the feedback for the comfort of the chair greatly improved.
However, people still did not accept that the chair was appealing in terms of aesthetic value. Even after spending more time with the chair, they still rated it around a 6 out of 10, which was a low rating for a chair to be released in the market. However, Herman Miller did it anyway, and the chair soon built the name for itself despite being considered ‘ugly’ and ‘uncomfortable’. It really was incredibly ergonomic and comfortable, as well as expensive. The idea of spending money on high-tech smart-engineered furniture was slowly catching on, and it began to be seen as a new kind of ‘power symbol’. This time the image of power was smart and modern, backed by technology.
Aeron Chair Features
The main justification of the price point of the Aeron is its superior ergonomics. It was designed for the majority of the workforce that spends most of the day sitting. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can have terrible side effects on your health and well-being, and having an ergonomic chair that promotes the right posture can really help in personal comfort as well as boost your productivity.
Here are some of the main features of the Aeron:
Ergonomic Lumbar Support
Out of all the issues that are associated with sitting for long periods of time, it is sitting in a bad posture that takes the biggest toll on your health. The Aeron corrects your posture with its Lumbar Support.
A bad sitting position is when you slip into a slouch, and the spine takes a C shape. Sitting in a chair like the Aeron with a lumbar unit forces your spine into the correct S-shaped posture. While the rest of the chair is covered in the pellicle weave, the lumbar unit of the chair is made up of high-density foam.
Even the 2016 re-designed model has an improved lumbar support unit. The PostureFit SL mechanism provides strong support and comfort to the lower spine, which doesn’t just improve your posture while sitting but is also corrective in nature. Spending hours sitting in The Aeron will also have a corrective effect on your posture even for the rest of your day, and can significantly help with relieving stress.
The only possible drawback of having the lumbar support fortified with high-density foam is that it is significantly warmer than the rest of the chair covered in pellicle.
2016 Lumbar Re-Design
Herman Miller released a re-design of their best-selling Aeron chair, and it has a new posture correcting mechanism. While the previous original model simply pushed the lower spine forward, the new Aeron actually aids in tilting the pelvis forward. That helps the spinal column create a healthy curve, according to Tom Niergarth, the head of production for the 2016 Aeron.
Woven Pellicle Fabric
Many argue that the real backbone of the success of the Aeron lies in the material that they discovered — called ‘Pellicle’. This woven material is strong, flexible and breathable. The fabric actually makes your body feel like it is floating, because of the incredible weight distribution that it does. It also adjusts to the shape of your body, eliminating any chances of back pain. The mesh back of the Herman Miller Aeron Chair is one of the signature identifiers.
The new Aeron has a more tenacious Pellicle, called 8Z Pellicle with higher tensile strength. It also varies across different parts of the chair to give more nuanced support to the body, in contrast to the uniform support the original had. It pushes stronger on the lower back while giving room on the shoulder blades to relieve tension.
It also allows regulation of air, body heat and optimum moisture for the best breathability. Nothing worse than a sweaty leather chair: and the Aeron always stays cool.
You’ll often hear people saying that once you buy the Aeron, you never need another chair for the rest of your life. It is truly built to last, with the highest durability. In fact, many people even safely opt for second-hand chairs knowing that they still have plenty of life left in them.
In fact, the chair comes with a 12-year warranty, which is definitely unheard of in any other product. You can service the chair anytime during the 12 year warranty, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a chance to! Since the Herman Miller Aeron chair is made with such superior high quality materials that are 94% recyclable, you may never run into problems as wear and tear hardly ever shows.
While it might seem like the Aeron is a big splurge, it’s definitely worth the price tag if you think of it as an investment for your health and career. Regular chairs and office furniture generally need to be replaced every 2-4 years: but once you purchase the Aeron, you are set for life. If you’re a business or company thinking of stocking your office furniture with Aeron Chairs, this is still a great investment that will save you money in the long run.
The Tilt Mechanism
The original tilt mechanism of the original Aeron Chair was made out of a rubber coil spring. This worked fine for years, but when Don Chadwick reworked the chair for 2016, he noticed that there is a slight delay or lag while the seater pushes back and the chair responds. The re-mastered tilt mechanism has a leaf spring system.
The leaf spring system constitutes of strips of glass-reinforced polystyrene resin. It’s also much more durable than the rubber coil spring. In fact, when talking about the mechanics of Herman Miller Aeron, the CEO Brian Walker compared it to the engine and mechanics of a car, making the point that the 2016 model of a car would undoubtedly boast better performance than the 1994 one!
You can also easily adjust the tilt of the chair. Just below the seat are +/- buttons that will allow you to tinker with the curve of the chair till it accurately suits your body. Remember to adjust the chair according to the right sitting position that your back should be in, and not simply what feels most comfortable.
The Miller Aeron chair has become an instantly recognizable statement, and that’s purely due to the design. While people initially came on board with the comfort and ergonomic quotient of the chair, market research showed that people were still uncomfortable with the design and look of the chair. But it didn’t take too long for the unconventional looks of the chair to be one of the reasons why it stood out so much.
In fact, many chairs in the past decade are inspired from the design of the Aeron: with minimalist engineering and smart, almost futuristic-looking metal pieces. In 2010, the Aeron chair earned a place in the New York Museum of Modern Art with the title description of “America’s best selling chair”.
When Herman Miller reached out to Don Chadwick to re-design and improve the Aeron chair, they were cognizant of not tampering with the chair’s design too much. They still wanted it to be instantly recognizable as the Aeron chair: but with refined details.
One of the most striking differences of the new 2016 re-designed Herman Miller Aeron Chair is the new Mineral color, a light and etheral grey color chair. Anyone familiar with the Aeron chair will instantly recognize this new color, since it was previously only available in the darker grey colors Carbon and Graphite since 1994. If you are getting the new Aeron, you should definitely get it in the new Mineral color for the head-turners and compliments.
The new Aeron is also available in three sizes for different body types. Since the chair is built to be ergonomic and support body weight and posture of the person sitting, it’s important that it’s the right size. There are three sizes available, size A, size B, and size C.
Size A is for smaller adults, and is the narrowest chair.
The B is for average sized adults and can accommodate persons of regular height and weight. It is also the most commonly sold Herman Miller Aeron Chair.
Size C is for the heavier and bigger adults, and is the biggest Aeron in the market.
Herman Miller Aeron Chair Adjustable Features
When ordering the Herman Miller Aeron Remastered Chair, you can choose between a few standard and premium options for each feature. Usually these adjustable features come at a slightly higher cost, so it’s worth understanding the options available to see what’s really important for you.
Standard Tilt / Tilt Limiter and Seat Angle
This one is an important option to consider for optimal sitting position. With the Standard Tilt, you get a tilt tension knob that allows you to tweak the tension with reclining. You can increase the tension for the recline or decrease it according to what feels more comfortable and secure. You still get to recline all the way from fully upright to fully reclined.
With the Tilt Limiter and Seat Angle at an additional cost, you get the same tension knob as the Standard Tilt, as well as a tilt limiter to either mid-recline or fully reclined. The Seat Angle adjuster allows you to angle the seat forward which is great for people who like to lean a bit forward as they work.
Back Support / Adjustable PostureFit SL
You get three options for the back support on the Aeron.
If you select the regular Back Support, you don’t get an additional lumbar unit, but simply enjoy the zonal support of the 8Z Pellicle fabric.
If you select the Adjustable Lumbar support, you receive a lumbar unit that can be adjusted vertically about 4 inches. This pushes your spine outwards and provides support for the back. This comes at an additional cost.
If you select the Adjustable PostureFit SL, you receive a two-fold lumbar support. There are two individual pads that flex according to your body. The Lumbar pad provides strength to the middle of your spine while the sacrum supports the end of your spine behind the pelvis. This is the most premium of the lumbar features and one of the highlights of getting the Remastered Aeron.
Stationary Arm Rest / Adjustable Arm Rest
You get three different options for the arm rests.
With the Stationary Arm Rest, the comfortable arm rests don’t move at all (as the name suggests) and vary according to the size of the chair that you selected (A, B, or C). This is the Standard option.
If you select Height Adjustable Arm Rests, you can vertically adjust them according to your body and arm range for comfort. This is at a slight increase in price from the Standard option.
The Fully Adjustable Arm Rests can be adjusted vertically, slide backwards and forwards and even pivot outwards and inwards. This is especially useful if you’re going to be reclining on the chair a lot, since it can get annoying to have a reclined back but stationary arm rests at an awkward angle. This premium feature comes at a higher cost.
Standard Arm Pads / Leather Arm Pads
The Standard Arm Pads are durable polyurethane foam with an uncoated finish that are quite comfortable. You don’t get to choose the color options, and the arm padding is the same color according to the color of the chair that you chose.
The Leather Arm Pads come at a slightly higher cost for an added luxury element, and you get to choose between four color options: Black, Graphite, Dark Carbon, or Dark Mineral.
Standard Carpet Casters / Multi-Surface Caster
The Standard Carpet Casters are made out of durable nylon and are suited for regular low to medium-pile carpeted surfaces. They are smooth and long-lasting.
The Multi-Surface Casters with Quiet Roll Technology are a premium feature at an additional cost. They can be used on carpetted floors or even a hard floor. It also has a useful braking technology that won’t let your precious chair roll away from you. The Quiet Roll Technology is especially useful for hard floors since it reduces vibration in the base and is just as quiet on hard floors as it is on carpet.
Graphite Frame / Mineral Frame
You can choose the Remastered Aeron in either the Graphite Frame or the Mineral Frame. This doesn’t come at an additional cost. The Graphite Frame is a much darker grey while the Mineral Frame is a lighter grey which was new and introduced with the Remastered chair. Both chairs have a color options for the base as well.
Polished Base / Satin Base
For the Graphite Frame Aeron, you can choose between a Polished Aluminum Base or a matching Graphite Base.
For the Mineral Frame, you have two color options to choose from: the Satin Aluminum and the Polished Aluminum. The Polished Aluminum has a shiny glossy finish while the Satin has a more matte finish. All options are available without extra cost.
Is the Aeron Worth It? Pros and Cons
If you still haven’t made up your mind about ordering the Aeron, here are some pros and cons to help you make your decision.
- Durable for life-time
- Most ergonomic chair in the market
- Status Symbol, Aeron is a pop-culture icon
- Reverses back problems
- Not affordable for everyone, is a long-term investment
- Not much facility for neck support
Where to Purchase the Aeron?
You can purchase the Aeron here on Amazon for the best deal. Make sure that it has all the specifications for adjustable features that you want to opt for.
You can also purchase the Aeron from the Herman Miller site, but you won’t find any refurbished or used Aerons over there.
- Your purchase includes One Herman Miller Aeron Ergonomic Chair – Size B, graphite color
- Chair dimensions: 41" H x 27" W x 16.75" D. Seat heights: 16”-20.5”.
- Tilt Limiter lets you set the recline range at one of three postures. Tension control lets you adjust the amount of effort needed to recline...
The Aeron is just as worth it as it was when it was released back in 1994. It has truly stood the test of time and is absolutely worth the hype. If you find yourself in a career where you spend around 4-8 hours or more seated, you’ll be doing a great favor to yourself and your health by investing in the Aeron for a lifetime.
Many people who are used to sitting in an Aeron in their previous jobs find that they simply cannot adjust to a regular chair and have severe back pains. It’s difficult to go back after experiencing such ergonomic support and care for your back!
There are many flexible payment options available if you don’t want to invest a large amount up front: and getting the Aeron is just about one of the best technologies that money can buy in this generation.