|Herman Miller Embody Chair Review|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Accessories|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 14 July 2010|
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Testing The Embody Chair
According to the Herman Miller Embody website: "Embody is good for you. An agile chair that keeps your body and brain limber all day. Designed specifically for people who work for hours at computers, Embody is the first work chair that benefits both mind and body." These are bold claims, and for the asking price of $1100 (twice the cost of Herman Miller's Aeron chair) the Embody chair had better deliver on every promise. This isn't snake oil, where the results could be real or imagined; this is a product that either makes you feel good after sitting for hours... or it doesn't. So far, this article has detailed and demonstrated what the Herman Miller Embody chair can do as an ergonomic sitting device. With a full month of personal testing with the Embody chair, it's time to discuss what it's actually done.
Let's begin with my expectations: for the best-available purchase price of $1100 ($1200 with optional arm supports), the Embody chair should remedy the poor leg circulation I feel after 10-12 hours of sitting in my $200 Realspace Pro 12000 office chair. I'm not expecting the Embody to feel as soft as my La-Z-Boy recliner, but it should be better than the $600 Aeron (also by Herman Miller), or the padded leather HON chair ($700) I've got in the study. I suppose I'm guilty of expecting performance to match price, but I'm an American living in a recession, and an expensive $1200 office chair had better come with three wishes.
Herman Miller Embody Backfit Frame
The Herman Miller Embody chair is too large to be shipped via UPS or FedEx, so each unit is hand-crafted and carefully boxed for freight transport directly from the Zeeland, Michigan Herman Miller factory. My first challenge with the Embody chair was actually receiving it: there's a 21 business-day lead time on all orders. Taking weekends into consideration, that means you'll be waiting a month for the Embody chair... which is exactly how long it took. There are several Herman Miller furniture stores online that stock a few ready-to-ship pre-configured models, but I insisted on arm supports and translucent casters. In retrospect, I could have done without both (especially the arm supports).
My first hour with the Embody chair was spent adjusting the various levers and knobs in no particular order, primarily because no form of product documentation or literature came with my chair. After visiting the Herman Miller website and watching a series of instructional videos, I was a near-expert in the art of Embody adjustments. The chair felt stiff and new at first, perhaps because the tension knob and seatback adjustment lever were both fully engaged. Overall, my initial experience left me feeling as though the Embody chair had immediately supported my back but had a lot of fine tuning left to be done.
Herman Miller Pixelated Support Embody Seat
As a business owner, I've become accustomed to working half-days: that means I work twelve out of twenty-four hours per day. I spend
Since the Embody chair offers a noteworthy 12-year warranty and a premium $1100+ price tag, chances are very good the owner will be sitting in it for many years to come. With this in mind, my first week with the Herman Miller Embody chair involved minor tweaks to each of the adjusting devices, a short twist here and a half turn there, until I felt that the Embody chair ergonomically contoured to my body and lived up to its name. Once the courtship was over and I'd learned to live with Embody, there were some definitive benefits and only a few shortcomings worth noting.
Of the many things I like most about Embody, the Herman Miller Backfit seat-back support technology was at the top of my list. The Backfit frame and Pixel Matrix pad gives my upper body a feeling of floating up against the chair's seat back, instead of leaning against it. With several give and take zones along the back, you never feel direct pressure or resistance. It's probably still a good idea to get up and stretch every few hours, but at least now a sore back isn't forcing me out of the chair.
Herman Miller Pixelated Support System
For all of the many things I've come to appreciate in Embody, I still have just one criticism: the seat bottom is not as soft as I'd like. Although pressure is evenly distributed across my entire seat, and my legs feel great, I still notice the lack of free-floating comfort. I understand how Herman Miller's Pixelated Support system works, and that the individual cells must work independently in order to yield the appropriate suspension feedback. I'm also fully aware that too much padding would dull (or neutralize) the responsiveness, and yet somehow I still believe that a thin layer of closed-cell foam individually placed over each square pixel could go a long way. Of course, there's the possibility that I should have spent another $200 on the fabric upgrade.
The standard Herman Miller Rhythm material is 100% polyester, and has a thin (1/8") cushion feel to it. Herman Miller's Balance material is a premium option created specifically for the Embody Chair, and it's made from 100% polyester knit. This knit is advertised to give superior loft, or thickness, and delivers a cushy feel. My hands can feel a small amount of loft in the Rhythm material, but my legs can't, and I'm regretting the decision. If I had to do it all over again, I would opt for Balance polyester knit material in place of optional arm supports.