If you’ve know anything about ergonomic chairs, you’ve probably heard of the Herman Miller brand.
I recently did an in-depth review of their most popular chair- the Herman Miller Aeron.
But what about about the more expensive Herman Miller Embody chair?
In their range of chairs, this is considered to be the most stylish, prestigious, and comfortable office chair.
So is it worth it? How does it stack up to other Herman miller chairs?
In this review, you’ll find my detailed personal opinion of the chair, and also some very close Herman Miller alternatives to consider.
About The Chair
- Strong & durable frame
- Lots of adjustable features
- Smooth recline mechanism
- Maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs
At first glance, the Embody chair doesn’t look like a typical office chair. What sets it apart in terms of design, is its ‘human back inspired’ backrest.
It features a central spine that holds many flexible ribs. The backrest actually feels quite alive when you lean into it, or when you lean forward.
The overall design of the chair reminds me of something you’d see on the deck of a spaceship.
Embody was designed in 2008 by industrial designers Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber. They wanted to create a dynamic chair that will help our body move while sitting.
The backrest was designed narrow on purpose to allow you to twist and reach out.
The ‘balance’ upholstery on the Embody is made from 3 layers of breathable fabric that allows air to flow and keep you cool.
You can also choose the ‘rhythm’ and ‘mercer’ upholstery, but those are made of a single-layer that’s woven more closely, making it unbreathable.
To be quite honest, this is a beautifully crafted chair that will make a bold statement in the office. The only drawback to its design is the height of the backrest, which only goes to your shoulders.
So if you need a chair for relaxing, this one may not be for you.
This chair was created specifically to be ergonomic, promote good posture, and help alleviate sitting related pain.
The moving ‘spinal’ backrest is a good start, but let’s look at all the adjustable features that will make your life in front of the screen easier.
The backrest can recline to 4 preset points and down to 135º. When there’s no pressure applied to it, it sits at 90º, but minimal pressure of your back flexes it to 100º.
Height and depth
The seat is adjustable for depth and height, which should be expected from a chair with this price.
You’ll be able to move the seat up to 20.5’’ and down to 16’’ off the floor. The depth gives you 3’’ of wiggle room, which will do wonders in terms of ergonomics.
However, keep in mind, this seat wasn’t designed to fit big people. We’re talking about 15’’ to 18’’ of seat depth range, which is somewhat shallow but would be perfect for an average sized user.
The width of the chair is generous on the other hand, offering 21.25’’ of space.
Arms and lumbar
The arms are adjustable as well, they can be widened to 21’’ for mouse use, or narrowed to 12’’ for keyboard use. They also move up and down but don’t pivot.
The lumbar support on this chair is nothing to go crazy about. You can control the tension but you can’t adjust its height. It is comfortable, however, and does its job well.
What makes this chair high-end, in my opinion, is the easy to use lever mechanisms that are responsive and perform smoothly.
Since you’ll be using them every day, they’re an essential part of your overall comfort and experience.
When buying the Embody chair you can choose between a Graphite, Titanium, or Polished aluminum frame. Each one was manufactured to be durable and hold up to 300 lbs of weight.
However, it’s important to note that the Titanium and Polished options will cost a bit more.
This chair comes mostly pre-assembled but the finishing process is a bit troublesome because everything needs to be aligned perfectly.
If this is your first Herman Miller, expect to spend around 30-40 minutes on it.
What Customers Say
The Embody chair’s high price comes with high expectations from customers that use it, this usually results in bad reviews but so far we’re getting positive vibes.
Most people that bought this chair are impressed with the comfort it provides. Some of them have only used budget chairs so far, and others a mix of budget and high-end chairs.
All of them agree that the Embody chair is worth its price due to a couple of very specific reasons:
The comfort of the seat is especially good because the design of the seat was made to resemble a hammock. It is a far more comfortable experience than sitting on a block of foam, for sure.
The backrest hugs your back regardless of your position. It is not a noticeable experience, and after a while, you forget it’s there, but it is there and offers plenty of ergonomic support.
The adjustment of the tension throughout the backrest also amazes customers.
They love how they can turn a knob one way to fill in their upper back while sitting straight, and then turn it the other way to make the lumbar more prominent for reclining support.
Embody Vs Aeron
The main difference between the design of both chairs is the sizing option.
The Embody comes in one size and can be further adjusted to fit various body types. The Aeron, on the other hand, comes in A, B, or C sizes, for petite, average, or large people.
Most people prefer Embody’s adjustable options, especially if they’re ordering in bulk or unsure about the sizing and how it will fit them.
In terms of design, Embody is the clear winner, but if you need proper lumbar support Aeron is the way to go.
If you sat in both chairs, the first thing you’d notice is the support the Embody’s spinal backrest gives. The Aeron features mesh that hugs your back, but it’s not as comfortable as the Embody.
Also, on the Embody chair, you can control the depth of the seat, something that the Aeron doesn’t have. Overall, the Embody chair outperforms the Aeron in almost every way.
There are only two areas where the Aeron seems like a better choice. It is so much easier to assemble and costs a bit less than the Embody.
The main difference you should be aware of when it comes to these 2 chairs is that Aeron is a ‘task chair’ suited for work in the office, while the Embody is better for reclining, gaming, and movies.
With regards to the pricing, the Embody chair is definitely more expensive, but it does come with its own perks. You have the freedom to adjust the chair to your liking and even share it with others.
The Aeron is an exceptionally comfortable chair, but it simply doesn’t have all the specialized adjustments the Embody offers.
Still, some people prefer to keep it simple because they don’t want to mess with the adjustments every time they sit down.
Is the Embody worth the extra money? If you were planning on getting the Aeron and can afford to pay a little more, we say go for it. Otherwise, the reality is that both are pretty expensive chairs.
Herman Miller Alternatives
If the Embody chair was designed to encourage movement, the Steelcase Gesture was created to keep your posture straight.
The seat is designed to position you slightly forward, which keeps your spine in a healthy S-shape, and the armrests get uncomfortable if you’re not sitting properly, which helps with your posture.
This way of sitting is good for your back, and it places you in an active working stance, but some people find it restrictive.
Don’t get us wrong, this chair is comfortable and comes with enough padding to keep most people happy, but if you’re the type that likes to sit reclined, this might not be the best option for you.
Overall, the Gesture chair has loads of adjustable features. The arms move in all directions but can’t be locked in place.
This might cause some frustration when you’re trying to get up while leaning on the armrests.
In terms of comfort, it performs very well and can be used for long hours. The backrest feels extremely supportive and the manufacturer offers a 12-year warranty for this model.
In my opinion, this might be the most worthy competitor of the Herman Miller Aeron. It is used mostly by gamers and busy office workers.
The design of the chair is amazing and it has a mesh backrest that will keep your body cool. It also features lots of adjustable options that are usually not found on a chair in this budget-range.
You can recline the backrest, tilt the headrest, and the arms move in 3 directions (up/down, slope outwards, and tilt).
The seat can also be adjusted for height (15.5’’-19.5’’) and you can slide it forward to sit in an ‘active work’ stance. This chair comes with an aluminum frame that is strong and durable.
It will hold people up to 250 lbs without issues. Overall, people that use this chair say it is pretty comfortable. The only downside to the Sidiz T80 is the nylon wheels that could use an upgrade.
The Ergohuman executive chair is another great option to consider. It seems like Ergohuman has taken all the negatives usually found in office chairs and turned them into strengths.
For example, this is a mesh chair that keeps you cool while you work but weaved into the mesh you’ll find rubberized threads that have anti-slip properties.
The chair doesn’t come with padding but the elastic mesh does a great job of creating comfort.
The lumbar support on this model is also unique because it springs to follow your movement as you change your stance throughout the day.
The headrest is also comfortable and adjustable to fit your needs. I’d suggest placing the top of your neck on it to receive the full benefit of this feature.
Although the Ergohuman sounds perfect so far, it does come with a couple of flaws. The arms can be adjusted but can’t be locked, which causes them to shift out under your arms.
Also, the chair was designed to fit tall and skinny people. If you’re shorter than 5’9’’, your feet won’t touch the floor when you sit on it.
Another downside is that the seat is 20.5’’ wide, this is good for the average user, but if you’re a larger individual the sides of the seat might feel uncomfortable.
The Quantum 9000 comes with a strong metal frame that will hold people up to 275 lbs. The mesh found on the seat, backrest, and headrest is both comfortable and durable.
The headrest is optional, but judging by the experience people have had, I suggest getting one.
Overall this is a highly adjustable chair.
You can move the seat up and down, plus it slides forward for a change of depth. The padded arms are adjustable in 3 directions and they do a pretty good job of keeping people comfortable.
The backrest reclines smoothly, and paired with the headrest it provides a truly relaxing experience.
Some people say this one could be considered a Herman Miller on a budget, and I know they’re referring to the Aeron, based on a similar design.
Getting a chair at this price range can be nerve-racking. As I mentioned before, the high price comes with higher expectations and it’s easy to get disappointed.
However, Herman Miller seems to have made an office chair that satisfies everyone.
On the positive side, this chair is constructed with excellence in mind. Both the frame and the upholstery are of high quality, and the adjustable parts function smoothly.
You also get lots of adjustable options to fit this chair to your specific needs.
One thing that most people notice while using the Embody chair is the comfort it provides and how rested they feel after using it. You could literally spend 8+ hours in it without feeling tired.
On the negative side, the chair doesn’t have a headrest and the backrest only reaches your shoulders, which is a dealbreaker for some.
Also, while I do understand that this chair is an incredible investment into your healthy future, and covered with a 12-year warranty, most people won’t be able to afford the Herman Miller Embody.
This is one of the reasons I’ve included the honorable mentions of similar chairs that cost less. Overall, this is a brilliant chair made for people that spend long periods at their desks.