The Aeron kicked off the modern ergonomic chair revolution in 1994, standing on the shoulders of the granddaddy of ergo chairs, 1976's Ergon (also from Herman Miller). And 30 years after its release, it's still revered as a product design icon, both beautiful and exceptionally well made. But surely design – and the understanding of ergonomics – has changed since 1994?
I've been reviewing the best ergonomic office chairs for a few years now, and always take my time using each chair – a minimum of three weeks – before giving my review. For the Aeron, I've spent 12 weeks with it, thinking about its every facet – from the wheels to the back mesh; the armrest foam to the lumbar support. And my two second review is that the Aeron is a timeless classic, because it still succeeds in its very clear aims.
Important note: this review is on the entry-level Aeron that comes with limited adjustment options. The chair usually has several adjustments you can make, but this model reduces them dramatically with the average user in mind, and reduces the price accordingly.
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'Entry-level' model & price
So what exactly are we reviewing here? The Aeron comes in three sizes (A, B, C), for a range of body types. There are usually many options for what you can adjust, but Herman Miller has also released an 'entry-level' model that provides fixed arm rests and fixed lumbar support (or PostureFit as they call it). You still have height adjustment and back tilt... and that's it!
So, what are Herman Miller up to? Well, this 'entry-level' model comes a little cheaper. In the US site, it's $1,020 compared to $1,750 for the fully adjustable model, while in the UK, it's a slightly less impressive £1,121 to £1,338.
You can get this model even cheaper, depending on where you're shopping. But if you want to buy from Herman Miller, they often offer deals (there's currently 20% off) and you'll get a 12-year warranty when you buy through them. That's 12 years! They're that confident in their product. But should you be? Let's break it down...
I'm reviewing a model of an ergonomic chair that only offers limited options for adjustments, and I've given it a near-perfect 4.5 stars out of 5. Why? When it comes to comfort, it's because it's a real class act that does many small things exceptionally well. And, honestly, after 12 weeks of using it as my main work chair, I didn't miss the extra alterations.
Take the armrests. They're stationary. You literally can't move them on this model, and I thought that would be a deal-breaker. However, I also have an office chair that boasts '360 arms' – you can change the height, move them sideways, forward and backwards, plus they turn 360 degrees on a horizontal swivel. The entry-level Aeron does absolutely none of that: they are soft yet firm and, for me, they are perfectly positioned. They're exactly where I need them when I'm working.
Sitting on the Aeron, I feel fully supported by both the seat and the back. The design means that the majority of my back is resting against the back mesh, with my lower back supported by the static, padded lumbar support, behind a breathable mesh. The best way I can describe it is I feel like I'm in the best position that I can be in, and fully supported.
You get the Aeron delivered fully assembled, and moving it around my office, it moves as one, with no rattling or unwanted give, which often occurs when you put your chair together yourself.
Materials-wise, the frame and the base is made from matte, polished and powder-coated die-cast aluminium, so it's light and sturdy – and it feels great in your hands. No cheap plastic here.
Herman Miller also make it clear that the Aeron, 'is up to 91% recyclable based on available recycling facilities,' and is 'made of up to 2.5 pounds of ocean-bound plastic.' That would be some of the 2016 'remastering' from original designer Don Chadwick, and certainly brings the chair up to date as far as modern ethical concerns.
Design and aesthetics
There's something about great design that seeps into your consciousness without you knowing. This is especially true of a product like a chair, who's function is more important than its aesthetics. Sure, it can look as pretty as a picture, but when you sit on it, if it's uncomfortable, that's just crappy design.
Well, the Aeron is one of the most comfortable, best-supporting chairs I've sat on, but it also looks great. I've been using it for over 12 weeks, and I currently couldn't think of my home office without it. It would be bare. Slightly less sophisticated. Less grown up. It's become an integral part of my office setup's design: of how it feels. And that's because the Aeron looks striking from any angle, from any distance.
Up close, whether stooping down to ground level to get a good view of the mechanics of the chair, or hovering over, there are endless curves that guide your eye. The seat is pleasingly wide with flared edges. The levers aren't an afterthought, hidden below the seat. They're exactly where they should be, occupying their space proudly. Yes, that's right: I'm talking about space around a lever! But really, I'm talking about every component of this chair having been thought through and pieced together just so. Each thoughtful detail adding to the overall finished product. And the result is great design.
If you're after a chair that does the job, doesn't cost much, and you're not really bothered about how it fits in your office set-up, please don't get this chair. There's been a lot of thought put into the Aeron – its design, its ergonomics, its materials, its aesthetics. Around three decades of thought, to be exact. It's an exceptional chair, and with this entry-level model it's slightly cheaper than the 'full fat' version (which may very well earn the extra half a star).
If ever there was a chair aimed at and suited to designers and creatives, the Aeron is it. It exudes quality and confidence, it's super comfortable to use and looks really, really great.