Everyone's reviewing things these days. You'll find independent reviews, purchaser's reviews, and reviews that are just trying to pump up the product so you want to buy it. Well, we thought we'd get in on all the fun with an Aeron Chair review of our own. We figured that the best person to review a chair would be someone who sits in it daily, knows the ins and outs of its controls, and knows how it stacks up against other chairs like it. When we offered Matt (our Marketing Manager) the task of spending a week in one of our Aeron Chairs and writing a review about it, he jumped at the chance - and now you get to benefit from all the good stuff he learned.
Working at Smart Furniture is kind of like playing musical chairs. You can't ever assume that what you're sitting in today will be what you're sitting in tomorrow. We shuffle chairs around to learn about them; it creates a nice communal feel around the office and gives us an excuse to steal each other's chairs pretty much whenever we please.
And so today, I find myself sitting in the Aeron Chair. Seeing as how this is pretty much the most famous office chair ever created, I'm surprised that it's taken this long for me to land one. This particular version I'm sitting in is a size B, which seems to fit me just fine as I'm 5'11" and skinny; it has leather armpads (nice), and the PostureFit Lumbar Support option.
To start, I'll say that you must make adjustments to your Aeron Chair before you can really get comfortable. This is a task chair through and through - and the hallmark of a task chair is that it has a lot of adjustments available for you to tweak in an effort to custom fit the chair to your person. The Aeron Chair has a back stop and a forward tilt adjustment mechanism that make a big difference in how the chair feels. Tomorrow, I will elaborate on said adjustments.
So today I'm going to talk about the PostureFit Lumbar Support on the Aeron Chair. To start, I have to preface by saying that the Aeron Chair really did make an impact on the office furniture scene when it came out in the 1990's. The lumbar support feature was pretty revolutionary in that it was designed to allow you a make small tweaks to the amount of support you felt. Herman Miller has come out with a number of office chairs since that time, but the lumbar support on Aeron still very much holds its own.
There's a little knob underneath the seat on the right side of the chair that has three little grooved prongs sticking out of it so it's easy to grab, and that's fairly awesome. When I sit back in my seat, I can feel the padded support hitting the lower part of my back as it should. The level of adjustment is pretty comprehensive, so if you think its a bit intrusive you can turn the knob as you're sitting back and feel the pressure give. And the best part is that it doesn't really move in increments. You can move it out or back just as much as you want.
What I mean is that some adjustment mechanisms have settings, say 1-5, with 1 being no support and 5 being lots of support, and some poor soul might find themselves wishing there were a 3.5 setting. This isn't an issue with the lumbar support on the Aeron Chair. The level of support you feel is only limited by the dexterity of your fingers. I would strongly recommend this feature because it's definitely a strong point of the chair.
Yesterday I covered the PostureFit Lumbar Support that is one of the main options on the Aeron Chair. Today I want to talk about another unique feature that was pretty groundbreaking at the time of its invention. This is the patented Pellicle fabric that was developed by Herman Miller. Pellicle is a breathable, flexible synthetic material that is outstanding in every way - at least in my opinion.
Breathable is the key for me. Pellicle ventilates extremely well, and it covers the entire seat pan and back. And because Pellicle covers a suspended seat pan on Aeron (meaning its just fabric supporting you, not fabric over a cushion over a solid seat), your behind and back are pretty much completely exposed to the air. This is a different feel from standard seat pans over foam and generic upholstery, where you can have many stifling inches of materials between you and the open air. Pellicle is so thin you can see through it. Also, it feels good to drag your fingernails across and it makes a cool noise similar to a zipper. It's not the softest material out there, but it's not rough at all. It's just not as soft as, say, a standard leather or the Embody Chair fabric.
Today I'm gonna talk about the Aeron Chair's arms. They're pretty important, since a good office chair is not a good office chair at all if the arms are lacking. I've been sitting in two different Aeron Chairs for the last couple of days, one of which is slightly better than the other in the armpads department. The first chair I sat on had leather armpads, and the one I'm currently sitting in does not. Alas. The leather armpads are better. They're soft to the touch, and they just look plain nicer than the standard armpads.The Aeron's standard armpads look and feel OK; they have a pleasant, spongy feel to them that's like a soft rubber. But they're not leather. The leather armpads look more inviting and are definitely more relaxing to rest your arms on when you want to lean back into the Pellicle of your Aeron Chair.
Another aspect of the Aeron Chair that should be covered is adjustability. The Aeron has loads of options - which is a lot to think about - but the options let you buy just what you want to pay for. Which is nice. Anyway, one option I would strongly recommend is the adjustable arms. You actually do notice the fixed-arm option when you're sitting in the chair, and they just don't live up to the rest of the Aeron. The adjustable arms are much better. The arms swivel in and out and you can adjust the height with a locking lever located behind the arms. The height adjustment mechanism is not overly convenient; you have to flip a lever up, adjust the arm to the height you want, and then lock it back in place, but once you've found the height you want you're pretty much set.
Hey, everyone. This is my last day talking about the Aeron Chair. I think I've touched on its major points - the lumbar support, the Pellicle fabric, the adjustable arms - and today I just want to mention a few things about the overall design. To start, I have to express that this is a cool looking chair. The guts of it (underneath the seat) have a lot going on, but the back, the seat pan, and the base are all very sleek looking. It's a chair that actually has a distinct profile, which is pretty neat.
I do have a couple of things - you may call them complaints - about the Aeron. Herman Miller has improved on these issues with the Mirra and Embody Chairs, both of which have been introduced since the Aeron Chair. The first issue pertains to the Aeron Chair's back frame. The perimeter of the back is made of hard plastic, so the back feels soft and giving as you move up the Pellicle back. ... that is, until you hit the rigid frame. For this reason, it's important to get the size that fits you right. Aeron comes in 3 sizes to fit the vast majority of the population. If you get a size A and you need a size B, your shoulder blades will hit the frame and make you unhappy. The rigid frame also prevents you from twisting free-spiritedly (quite the adverb) in the chair - something you come to expect once you've sat in the Embody Chair and, to a lesser extent, the Mirra Chair.
The second issue I have is with the tension mechanism for the recline. Maybe I'm just lazy and like to lean back in my chair too much, but I think the Aeron Chair is a little bit too serious about keeping you upright in a traditional tasking posture. You can recline, but you kind of have to work for it. Otherwise Aeron will tilt you forward again.
I don't want to sound like I don't like the chair. The only reason I noticed the rigid frame is that we have different sizes around the office so I tried all of them, which is how I found that I'm not comfortable in a size A. And the thing with the twisting ... I think this is just me being spoiled after sitting in an Embody Chair, a chair designed to let you twist. This feature has just come out in the last couple of years, and the Aeron Chair was introduced way back in '94. That's about all I have to say on the Aeron Chair; I hope you learned something new.
*Author's note: A big thank you goes to the Chattanooga Creative Discovery Museum for letting us use their awesome facilities to make fun photos. We hope we didn't scare off any of their patrons.