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Herman Miller Embody Chair Review E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Accessories
Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Herman Miller Embody Chair Review
Features and Specifications
Herman Miller Embody Options
Closer Look: Embody Chair
Embody Chair Detailed Features
Embody Chair Adjustments
Testing The Embody Chair
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Smart Furniture Herman Miller Embody Chair

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 a lot too much time in front of my computer, responding to email and keyboarding articles such as this, so comfort is mandatory if I'm to have a productive work day. I work out and stay in shape, plus I've spent a portion of my life as a US Marine so I've had my own share of uncomfortable working conditions (one full year of sleeping atop dirt). Just because I can sleep on a bed of nails doesn't mean I want to, and it's hard to concentrate on work if your legs fall asleep or your back aches. So fine tuning the Embody chair is time well spent, as it turns out.

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.

Smart Furniture Herman Miller Embody Chair



# RE: Herman Miller Embody ChairSteven Iglesias-Hearst 2010-07-14 09:00
Ha Ha I have never felt so uncomfortable whilst reading an article, your words were so descriptive that I felt every bad point of my chair. I will never be able to look at my chair in the same way again. :(
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# RE: Herman Miller Embody Chair ReviewAdam 2010-07-15 02:56
I honestly wish I could justify (and afford) spending £800 on a chair, it looks that comfortable.
But in the end of the day it's just a chair, albeit a very nice one and so spending that kind of money on one would be nuts.
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# 800 is nothingbereal 2010-07-23 19:39
so you spend countless $$$ on tech that gets thrown away and every day your back goes to #... i have an aeron and I am about to buy another one or this one and bring it into work... other chairs are a joke
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# Graphic DesignerCourtney 2012-01-31 16:18
The purpose of the chair is not to be expensive and look good, but it is about the ergonomics. It's what the chair does for you that you don't notice. People for the most part, unless for artistic purposes, design office furniture to keep your body at it's most natural and comfortable state. Thats why they have created different options on how to adjust the chair so you sit properly. They also have a wide variety of "accessories" that can make your job more comfortable as well such as foot rests and keyboard trays. From an outsider who happen to get a job to work for a furniture company, it always amazes me how much one typically doesn't know about what they use just about everyday.
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# RE: Herman Miller Embody Chair ReviewServando Silva 2010-07-18 19:16
I feel sad after reading this. I payed $20 for my chair and it's the best in the house (others cost $10-$15). I can't really afford more than $200 for a chair, not now...
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# LOLErik 2010-07-18 20:42
I thought you guys were joking about reviewing a chair, but if I had it I would review it too. Not sure why you would want a chair without armrests though!

-Sent from my non-Herman Miller chair
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# RE: LOLServando Silva 2010-07-18 20:48
Erik, this isn't a "common" chair. Its somehow GEEKY look makes it perfect for a review. About the arm-rests, I thought the same until I had my first chair with arm-rests. Then I had to go back since my elbows were crying and they (the arm-rests) topped with my keyboard.
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# RE: Herman Miller Embody Chair ReviewJason 2010-07-18 22:59
Thanks for all your time and effort in putting together this review! Ever since I started IT consulting 20+ years ago, I have considered my chair as crucial as having the fastest PC components, especially since I also work "half-time"! :-)

The Embody looks great. I'm ordering one today.
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# Back PainDaniel 2010-07-22 10:27
My back has never hurt so bad while reading an article in my life. Awesome review, keep up the good work.
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# great 1 year experience so farSomebody 2010-07-26 18:01
I bought an Embody chair about a year ago and it has been a great experience so far. It seemed like a big splurge when I bought it, but it has been totally worth it for ergonomics and comfort; I expect it will last many years. The novel design combines the best features of sling and cushion seats.
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# The older you get...James 2010-07-28 13:07
Interesting article on an under-covered subject. As you get older, or injured, these kind of products do make sense. 20 years in the military had exposed me to a few very good products though most were sub-par for similar prices. A crummy seat paid for with my tax dollars that wore out in two years for 375 is infuriating. When I had a good chair I was far more productive. You do get what you pay for. Wish I had the money, I just have to get up and walk around every hour or so to work the pain out...
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# Sr Ergonomic ConsultantJane Sleeth 2010-08-09 12:22
We are commencing a full trial of this chair in our offices as we have the full spectrum of anthropometrics. We will report back to you but so far so good with the chair - our biggest difficulty lies in finding chairs where the armrests will move inwards enough in width to fit our small 5th percentile female end users. Jane Sleeth
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# MaterialRhythm 2010-10-12 14:44
Isn't the balance material similar to what's on the Aeron? I think the difference is more aesthetic than anything else. I don't think your ass will feel an extra tenth of a millimeter of padding.
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# RE: Herman Miller Embody Chair Reviewlivinlyf5 2013-04-14 23:52
I bought the aeron recently and it's amazing how resilient it is. It can really handle any amount of abuse I throw at it. It really is worth the investment. I never have any back pains.
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