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First Impressions of the Embody Chair

Smart Furniture employees first parked their rumps in the Embody Chair back in February 2009. Below are some of our staff's initial reactions to Herman Miller's innovative creation.

Ergonomic Embody Chair

Here at Smart Furniture we were lucky enough to be among the first to try out the Embody Chair when we received our first model from Herman Miller. After reading initial press releases about it online and seeing pictures of its radically different design, we were eager to take a seat ourselves and see what it was all about. Here's what our staff had to say...


Melanie's Thoughts

"Ok, let's face it. I am fortunate enough to work for a company where I enjoy coming to work; I love my job, and what I do. And I still don't enjoy sitting at a desk all day. Even in an Embody chair. But I'll tell you it is certainly a plus in my workday.

The Embody chair is aesthetically pleasing. You don't need me to give you my design review. You're probably reading this because you were drawn to the chair because of its aesthetics and are wondering "what else?" I'll tell you. Here's my experience. From the adjustable arms to the adjustable seat depth to the 3D knit fabric, this chair has exceeded my expectations. The Embody chair can easily be adjusted to your body type and personal preferences with the handy adjustment guide.

After about a week of sitting in the adjusted chair I played with the settings to really feel what each mechanism did and found my own mix to best support my habits. By that I mean I needed to adjust the chair to make me use it properly. The whole point of the working recline in the Embody chair is for you to lean back in the chair so your spine is in a resting position. This is supposed to increase blood circulation and stimulate the flow of oxygen to the brain. The end result being you think better and are interrupted less often by being uncomfortable your chair. You following me? Good. So I needed to adjust the chair to "encourage" me to recline. The seat pan does it a little (as it is not as cushy as the Aeron) but I needed a bit more help by loosening the tilt tension. If I reverted back to my evil tasking position (sitting straight up leaning in towards my computer screen) I found it easier to slip back into reclining if the resistance was less. At first glance the arm pads were flat and seemingly uncomfortable. They are perfect, just enough cushion and a large surface area to rest elbows. The balance fabric has loft as well and breathes for a comfortable all day stretch sitting in the chair. The slim profile of the back allows for increased mobility reaching for things and stretching.
Herman Miller Embody Chair

The Embody chair is a beautiful piece of functioning art. Besides, it's too pretty for office hockey anyway. We'll leave that to the Aeron chair."

Natalie's Thoughts

"When sitting in the new Embody chair by Herman Miller I can tell it's a great computer chair. It would be ideal for workers at a desk who like to sit at a relaxed posture throughout their work day. The adjustments are user friendly and are very straight forward. It is nice that the seat depth can be adjusted as you change from one user to the next. When you lean back, you can feel the entire chair's back move with you. It is very supportive in every position you could move to during the work day. I believe this is a great chair that is supportive, comfortable, and stylish all in one."


Matt's Thoughts

"There are always some pretty comfortable chairs floating around the Smart Furniture office. We're always looking for the next best thing in office seating for our website, and adding new chairs to the office helps us familiarize ourselves with the product. Needless to say, we were eager to try out the Embody Chair after seeing initial press releases from Herman Miller that showed off its radically different design. After reading the user manual, I sat down in the Embody Chair and started tweaking the tilt limiter and the depth. To say the least, Herman Miller didn't just add these features as a gimmick or for looks. It's paramount that the user play with all the adjustments to get the best fit for their body. I like to lean way back in my chair while I'm at my computer, so I set the Tilt Limiter to almost no resistance and decreased the amount of lumbar support on the Backfit Adjustment. I also added a lot of seat depth and adjusted the height at my desk.

After sitting in the Embody Chair at my computer for an afternoon, I could understand Herman Miller's claim that Embody can make you more productive. The level of comfort it provides cuts down on the distractions that your body forces your mind to register throughout the day. Embdoy's fabric is ultra-breathable. I usually sit in one of our Bungie Chairs due to the fact that its bungie cords let lots of air in. Embody feels the same way in terms of ventilation without giving up any cushion. You can see that the fabric is very porous when you look at it closely, and when you press lightly on the seat with your hand, every point you touch gives a little bit.

I like to squirm, a fact pointed out to me by my dentist every time I have a checkup. When I'm at work it's no different. I constantly adjust my chair, my keyboard, and my monitor. I always thought that in the perfect chair, you wouldn't have to figet or move at all, but Embody changed that notion; it encourages you to move because every inch of Embody's back and seat is flexible. Moving is natural, even when you're sitting down, and Embody helps you move ... well, naturally. Again, Herman Miller didn't design the back just to look cool. It twists, flexes, and tilts every time you do, so rather than having to make large, jolting readjustments in your chair after some point in your back or thighs reaches its stress limit, you can make small, natural movements as frequently as your body needs, to the point where you don't even realize you're moving.

After being spoiled by having my pick from our myriad office chairs, I didn't think there was much more that could be done in the field of ergonomic seating. To my surprise, I was plain wrong. Embody feels different, and it makes you feel different."


TJ's Thoughts

"As part of the Herman Miller Lifework Portfolio, one of the most compelling features of the new Embody chair is that is really does seem designed to help you work better, and even think better. With the Embody, Herman Miller and designers Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber have shifted focus from engineering to reduce negative effects on the person using the chair, to designing to increase positive effects on that person – like better thinking, focus, ideas, and 'benefiting the mind.'

I learned – or let me say – I was reminded, that people just don't tend to move much when they sit in a typical work chair, and part of the reason is that traditional chairs don't really allow free movement. The Embody appears to be designed to foster movement – from big reclining movements to lateral leaning, to movements as small as breathing.

Focusing the research of nearly 30 professionals such as MDs, PhDs, physical therapists, and ergonomics specialists, the Embody seems geared to adapt to the way we move, the way we sit, and operates on the premise that we are at our best (from work and other perspectives) when we are in motion. And the chair seems to let you move naturally – that is, without having to think about what movements your chair will allow.

The Embody also seems cleverly designed to accommodate people of nearly all sizes and postures. With elements like zone support, and a pixelated support system, the design of the Embody supports different work positions, breathing patterns, and the 'postural equilibria' of different people. The result is increased circulation, decreased heart rate, and increased cognitive ability.

Finally, the Embody appears to not only be friendly to the body and mind, but also the earth, with materials that are 95% recyclable, manufactured in a Michigan plant powered by 100% green energy.

Embody is one of the most innovative additions to the Herman Miller Lifework portfolio that I've seen."


Mark's Thoughts

"The Embody Chair from Herman Miller is the most evolutionary office chair ever developed. It is the realization of form meeting function in an office chair. Created by the same design team that developed the groundbreaking Aeron chair 14 years ago, the Embody Chair is built of the concept of active sitting. This is the first chair that was designed for the 21st Century work force that spends the vast majority of its time at work in front of a computer monitor. A team of biomechanics, engineers, and physicians spent five years studying how people sit and how they work, to determine the optimum design. The result of this effort is a thin profile chair that is as beautiful to look at as it is comfortable to use.

This chair is designed with an innovative pixellated support system that moves with the user, providing active support to thighs, hips, and back. Research conducted by Herman Miller has shown that people sitting in the Embody Chair experience a reduced heart rate and improved cognitive function as a result of the improved blood flow the chair produces. The unique design of the Embody Chair enables a single chair size to fit 98% of users, regardless of height or weight.

The 4-layer seat provides support without creating pressure points that cause muscle fatigue. The seat fabric is designed to breathe, allowing air to circulate and preventing hot spots and reducing perspiration. The seat and back have no hard edges and give with the body as people move, bend, reach and stretch.

The Embody is truly the chair for anyone who wants to optimize their working comfort and productivity in today's hectic, non-stop world."


Gil's Thoughts

"The Embody chair has been slated by many to be the 'successor' to the popular Aeron chair, but having sat on both, I think they're two very distinct and different chairs that are extremely good in their own ways. I still haven't decided which one I like more because I need more 'seat time' to make a better-informed decision.

I will say that I wouldn't mind sitting on an Embody chair all day long, though. Right off the bat – it's that good."

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