Herman Miller Mirra 2 vs Aeron – which is the best model in the iconic chairmaker's lineup? Herman Miller is known for making outstanding office chairs that not only look fantastic but also include adjustable features that make working at a desk a lot more comfortable and better for your posture.
In reality, all Herman Miller chairs look sharp and offer a quality build that makes them comfortable to sit on, but they're also very expensive. That means that if you're going to make the investment, you want to think carefully about which model to spend your money on. The Mirra 2 and Aeron are two of the best-known, most popular and most acclaimed models in the lineup. At first glance, they don't appear dissimilar, so it can be hard to know which to go for. Look a bit closer, though, and you find they offer quite different designs and configurations. So we're going to put them head to head, Herman Aeron vs Mirra 2, to see how they compare in terms of design, configuration, ergonomics and price.
If you're interested in seeing more options from the Herman Miller range, check our guide to the best Herman Miller chairs. And if your posture and back health is of paramount importance, we've got a guide to the best office chairs for back pain that is worth reading (spoiler: the Aeron features high up in the list!)
Herman Miller has a reputation for designing chairs that look like works of art and both the Mirra 2 and the Aeron are fantastic quality, well-built chairs. The Aeron is the elder of the two siblings and it's been honed to perfection over the years since making its debut in the early 1990s. All that experience has also been put towards designing the more recent Mirra 2, which was released in 2003 as a (slightly) more affordable chair that's designed to adapt to each sitter's shape.
Materials-wise, the chairs are not dissimilar, offering a choice of aluminium bases and breathable elastomeric and polyester mesh backs for a cool, comfortable, airy feel. Both have adopted the use of recycled materials for eco-credentials, both have a maximum weight capacity of 159kg/350lbs and both come with a 12-year extended warranty for added peace of mind.
The seat of the Aeron is made from 8Z Pellicle polymer mesh, which is light, airy and soft to the touch, so much that some people say they feel like they're floating in the air. However, it also has side bolsters that bend upwards, which can be an issue if you sit a little to one side in the chair or if you're particularly tall or wide. The Mirra 2's mesh seat feels a little more rigid but adapts well to the sitter's movement.
The verdict: In terms of build quality it's a tie, although the Aeron offers a slightly softer seat.
The Herman Miller Aeron is a design classic and one of the most iconic office chairs ever made. It's notably more conservative and functional-looking than the Mirra 2, perhaps more in line with a traditional office chair. That extends to the colourways on offer. The Aeron is available only in three shades: black, graphite and grey. The Mirra 2 has a younger, more casual feel to it and comes in a much wider variety of colours, including orange and turquoise.
The Mirra 2 doesn't have the same iconic status as the Aeron, but perhaps only because the Aeron was already there. Overall I get the sense that the Aeron's designed to look the part in a board room or a C-level office, while the Mirra 2 is more aimed at people who don't wear a suit to work, which may include creatives.
The verdict: This one's subjective and will come down to personal preferences, but the Aeron offers the more iconic design.
Configuration is another area where we start to see more differences in Aeron vs Mirra 2. They each offer a range of different configurations but the options differ. With the Aeron you have to choose the size of your chair (small, medium or large) while the Mirra 2 comes in just one size. On the one hand, that makes the Aeron the superior chair in that you can choose the right size for you, but the Mirra 2 is so adjustable and so good at adapting to your form that it really is a case of one size fits all.
The Aeron also offers a choice of materials for the base and frame, while with the Mirra 2 you can only choose the material for the frame. However, the Mirra 2 offers a choice between two different back materials: its TriFlex Polymer or Butterfly Suspension backrest. The former is the firmer of the two options, made from a durable polymer material that makes it easy to clean (see our guide on how to clean an office chair), while perforations allow it to flex with your movement. The Butterfly Suspension back adds in a fabric layer with polymer veins that acts as a suspension membrane, adapting to your shape to provide support and a more cushioned feel as you move.
Beyond that, both chairs allow you to choose different options for back support, tilt and armrests. The Aeron allows you to choose between basic back support, vertically adjustable lumbar support, or Herman Miller's adjustable PostureFit SL (sacrum lumbar, if you're wondering). The latter is the best option, offering two individual pads that flex independently: one supporting your lumbar and the other stabilising your sacrum. The Mirra 2 offers a choice between basic back support and adjustable lumbar support. Again, the adjustable option is preferable but you have to pay for it.
As for armrests, both offer a basic configuration. The Aeron then offers two other options: height-adjustable or 3D (up and down, forward and backward, left and right pivot). The Mirra 2 comes with either basic or 4D (which are like the Aeron's 3D arms but also allow inward and outward width adjustment, to account for the Mirra 2's one-size-fits-all approach).
The verdict: It's a tie. The Aeron offers a choice of sizes and frames and three different back supports, but limited colours. The Mirra 2 offers two options for back material.
As for which of these chairs is the most comfortable, it's a tough call since both are designed with ergonomics in mind. With the Aeron you can choose the right fit for you, but the Mirra 2 moulds to fit your shape, especially if you go for the Butterfly Suspension back model. Both chairs offer a basic version with seat height adjustment and standard tilt, which are the minimum you want in an ergonomic chair, and both offer an upgrade with tilt tension and limiter functions that are very similar.
The Mirra 2 seat is more adjustable because you can adjust the seat depth as well as the height. That means it could be used by different people, whereas the Aeron has a fixed seat depth, which means you need to choose the right size chair from the three options offered. In terms of breathability, they're fairly even, with the mesh backs allowing plenty of air circulation to keep you cool, although many find the Aeron's back to be softer and a little more comfortable.
With both chairs, I'd recommend upping the specs as much as you can to add more adjustability, particularly when it comes to lumbar support, which is the most important for your back. The Aeron is the superior chair here if you go for the more expensive height and depth adjustable PostureFit SL configuration because it supports your lumber and provides stabilisation for the sacrum. That said the Mirra 2's adjustable lumbar support is perfectly good for anyone who wants to protect their back during long sessions at work. See our explainer on what makes an office chair ergonomic if you're wondering what you should be looking for in an ergonomic chair.
The verdict: I'm giving this one to the Aeron, but only just. Both are very ergonomic chairs that have been designed to protect your posture while you sit.
Even comparing prices for Herman Miller Aeron vs Mirra 2 can be difficult because each chair comes in multiple design options and configurations, but in general, the Aeron is more expensive than the Mirra 2. Of course, both chairs are expensive. However, it is possible to get a Mirra 2 for as low as $1,000 / £800 if you go for a basic configuration with standard lumbar support and standard armrests, and Herman Miller does seem to offer more discounts on this chair, which can climb as high as $1,500 / £1,250 if you go for the top specs.
However the Aeron costs $1,195 / £1,166 for the cheapest configuration with standard lumbar support, standard armrests and carpet casters and goes as high as $2,015 / £1,719 if you go for the top specs (polished aluminium base, multi-surface casters, adjustable PostureFit SL, tilt limiter and seat angle and height-adjustable leather armrest).
The verdict: the Mirra 2 wins here, but the difference isn't that large depending on what configuration you opt for.
Which should you buy?
It's a very hard call. Both the Mirra 2 and the Aeron have a lot to like about them. In terms of looks, both offer sharp, stylish design. The Aeron has an iconic status and a more classic look, making it more appropriate for a formal office situation. Many people also find it slightly more comfortable, provided you choose the right size.
If you're someone who tends to move around and switch positions a lot, and also if you're particularly tall or large, the Mirra 2 may be better for you because of the shape of the seat, the adjustable depth and the 4D arms (if you pay for that add-on) The Mirra 2 is also a good option if different people will be using your chair since it's more adjustable. However, if the chair is for you alone, and you want unbeatable comfort and a chair that looks the part in an executive office, you may want to splash on the Aeron.
As for configurations, go for the most adjustable option that you can afford. If you’re average in height and size, both the Aeron size B (Medium) and the Mirra 2 should keep you're back happy during long days at work. If you’re tall or have a wide frame, the Aeron size C or Mirra 2 with 4D arms and adjustable seat depth are probably your best choices.