This comparison is going to feature old school vs. new school chair ergonomics. The Aeron was the gold standard in chair ergonomics when it was released in 1994, but a lot has changed since then. How does the Aeron stack up against a high-end rival chair from their biggest competitor? Steelcase recently developed the Gesture, which is currently their most high-end ergonomic chair. It was designed with all the bells and whistles you can expect from Steelcase but it takes a lot to go up against the iconic Aeron. How will these chairs compare and which one is the right choice for you? Let’s find out!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Shipping and Assembly
– Build Quality
– Scope of Users
– Seat Comfort
– Back Support
– Armrest Comfort
– Ergonomic Adjustments
– Upholstery Options
– Bottom Line
One big difference between the Aeron and Gesture is that the Aeron was designed with different size options, while the Gesture is available in one size only. The Aeron is available in 3 sizes: A, B and C. A is small, B is medium and C is large. Size B is the most commonly chosen chair and it was the model we used for testing.
|Gesture||Aeron (size B)|
|Country or Origin||Mexico||USA|
|Overall Dimensions||23.75”D x 27”W x 38.5-43.5”H||27”D x 27”W x 36.5-41”H|
|Seat Height Range||16” – 21”||16” – 20.5”|
|Base Dimensions||26” Diameter||27” Diameter|
|Seat Dimensions||20”W x 15.75-18.5”D||17”W x 16.75”D|
|Back Dimensions||16.25”W x 24”H||21.5”W x 22”H|
|Distance Between Arms||10.25-22.5”||17”|
|Arm Height from Seat||7.25-11.5”||5.5-9.75”|
|Weight Capacity||400 lbs.||350 lbs.|
|Chair Weight||61 lbs.||41 lbs.|
|Shipping Weight||78 lbs.||46 lbs.|
|Shipping Dimensions||23.5” x 29” x 44.5”||41″ x 28″ x 27″|
The Aeron has a lower starting price than the Gesture. This is because Herman Miller allows you to order the Aeron with your choice of adjustability. You can add things like adjustable arms, tilt lock positions and lumbar support. If you order the most basic Aeron, then you can get it for $920.00. But, upgrading to the most adjustable version will bring the price up to $1,255.00. There are also options to upgrade the mesh and finish options. We will go more in-depth on those features in the Upholstery and Finish sections below.
The Gesture has a starting price of $1,040.00 but the Gesture comes standard with fully adjustable arms, lumbar support, tilt lock and a seat slider. If you equip the Gesture similarly to a fully loaded Aeron, then it will cost $1,062.00. You can also upgrade the upholstery and finish on the Gesture, which we will address in the Upholstery and Finish sections below.
|Add Fixed Arms||N/A||Included|
|Add Height Adjustable Arms||N/A||$100.00|
|Add Fully Adjustable Arms||Included||$160.00|
|Adjustable Lumbar Support||$22.00||$75.00|
|PostureFit Lumbar Support||N/A||$95.00|
|Tilt Limiter with Seat Angle||N/A||$100.00|
|Hard Floor Casters||$18.00||$50.00|
Steelcase and Herman Miller both have great return policies. Steelcase allows you to return the Gesture within the first 30 days for a full refund. Steelcase will cover the return shipping costs. The only requirements from Steelcase are that you ship the Gesture back in the original packaging and it must arrive back in like new condition.
Herman Miller also gives you 30 days to return the Aeron for a full refund. They cover your return shipping costs. Herman Miller does require that the Aeron is returned in like new condition, but they do not require the original packaging. If you no longer have the box, reach out to Herman Miller and they will help you facilitate a return.
In my opinion, Herman Miller and Steelcase have the two best office chair warranties in the industry. Their warranties are very similar, but they do have a couple of differences. The Gesture and Aeron are both covered for 12 years and have no excluded components. Both warranties are valid for 24/7 usage. The Aeron is covered for people that are 300-350 lbs., depending on the size you order. The Gesture is covered for people weighing up to 400 lbs.
Herman Miller and Steelcase will cover the cost of repairs and both companies will also cover the shipping costs associated with any repairs. One big difference between the two warranties is that Herman Miller has field technicians that will come to your location to perform repairs if you are located near an authorized dealer. Steelcase does not send out technicians to perform on-site repairs, but they do have a couple nice options if repairs cannot be performed. If your chair cannot be repaired, then Steelcase will either refund your purchase or they will send a new comparable chair model.
Shipping & Assembly
Both chairs arrived at our location via FedEx/UPS Ground. Both boxes are quite large. The Aeron’s box weighed just less than 50 lbs., while the Gesture’s box weighed about 70 lbs. Due to the size and weight of both boxes, you may want to have a second set of hands available to help you out.
Each chair had a minimal amount of packaging but they both arrived without a scratch. Neither chair required assembly. I was able to just open the box, wheel the chair out and it was ready for use. It is important to note that not all sellers will ship the Aeron and Gesture fully assembled. Some third party sellers and non-authorized dealers will ship the chairs with assembly required.
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The Aeron and Gesture both have a great build quality. They are our top two scoring chairs for build quality out of all the products we have tested. The Aeron currently has our top score with a 95/100 and the Gesture is just behind at a 91/100. Both chairs use top of the line components that were designed specifically for the chair. You will not see the Aeron’s seat, back, arms, etc. being used on another chair model. The same can be said for the Gesture. Both chairs were designed from the ground up with parts that fit together perfectly.
The Gesture is built with quite a bit more plastic than the Aeron. Often times people automatically assume that plastic makes something lower quality. That is not the case with the Gesture. The plastic on the Gesture is good quality and it is either being used to add flexibility to a part or to cover something up. A couple examples would be the plastic on the backrest, which is flexible to allow you to easily move while working. There is also plastic used under the seat to cover up the mechanism. This gives the chair a much cleaner look.
The Aeron has more aluminum than the Gesture. It also has 8Z Pellicle mesh instead of a traditional fabric or leather. While the fabric on the Gesture is nice, the mesh on the Aeron is the best we have seen. The use of aluminum and mesh upholstery makes the Aeron about 20 lbs. lighter than the Gesture.
Scope of Users
This is a category that allows us to evaluate how much of the population a particular chair will fit. At the beginning of the review we touched on the fact that the Aeron comes in 3 different sizes while the Gesture comes in one size. This had huge implications on our scoring for this category.
The Aeron’s three sizes is great because there is a size for almost everyone. The three sizes cover the 1-99th percentile. But, there isn’t a single model that you can order that will fit the vast majority of people. If you are ordering chairs for multiple people of different sizes, then you will need to get different sized Aerons. This is why the Aeron scored a 66/100.
The Gesture is the opposite. The Gesture received the highest scope of users score with a 91/100. The two factors that give the Gesture an advantage, over the Aeron for scope of users, is seat depth adjustment and armrest adjustment. The seat slider on the Gesture allows the seat to fit a much wider range of people than one of the Aeron sizes. The arms are what separate the Gesture from every other chair we have tested. They have the largest range of adjustment we have ever seen, which allows them to fit almost anyone in any posture they would like.
While both chairs will fit the majority of the population, they go about it in different ways. The route that Steelcase chose makes the Gesture a better choice for fitting more people out of the box. If you are ordering a large quantity of chairs and want something that will have the best chance of fitting the most people, then the Gesture is the way to go.
The seats on the Gesture and Aeron are very different but they only scored seven points apart for seat comfort. To score seat comfort, we use the opinion of everyone in our office to get a bunch of scores we can average. The Gesture scored an 80/100 and the Aeron scored 73/100.
The Gesture has a large seat with a rounded front and soft edges. There is a little less than 2” of foam padding but the foam is good quality. It holds up nicely and provides good support for long hours. The seat slider really helps to make the seat more comfortable. The seat pan is flexible so you are able to moves your legs much more so than on the Aeron.
The seat on the Aeron is different in just about every way compared to the Gesture. Instead of foam and fabric, the Aeron has a mesh only seat. It is stretched across the frame. You sit on top of the mesh and it is designed to give you an airy feel; however, our office felt that the seat was more firm than soft. The Aeron’s seat is more firm than the Gesture’s.
The seat on the Aeron has a thick frame with side bolsters that are meant to cradle you in the chair. The seat frame is not flexible and there are times that you can feel the frame. This is the biggest reason for the Aeron losing points in this category. The Aeron also lacks seat depth adjustment so you won’t be able to position the seat exactly where you like it.
Overall the Gesture is the safer seat design while the Aeron is a bit more polarizing. Most of our office liked the Gesture. Nobody hated it and a couple people really liked it. The Aeron was hit or miss. People either really liked it or didn’t like it at all.
Back support is another category that we felt was subjective enough that we needed the help of our whole office. After polling our office the Aeron scored a 78/100 and the Gesture scored a 76/100. Both chairs ended up in the top 6 overall so they each have a lot of nice things to offer.
The Aeron we tested featured the PostureFit SL lumbar support and it is a unique system. The lumbar support covers a large vertical area and has two different pads that flex separately. You cannot adjust the height of the pads but you can adjust how much pressure they apply to your back. The back also has a nice natural lumbar curve so the shape of it automatically puts you in a good posture. The mesh is also really soft and flexible so it feels nice to lean against. It is also breathable so it keeps you cool while you work.
One downside with the Aeron’s backrest is the thick frame, like the seat. With a mid back design and such a thick frame, there are times that you can feel it. This was especially true when I would lean back in the chair to stretch.
The Gesture’s backrest is much different than the Aeron. It is a high back design with soft edges and the frame is designed to flex and bend so that it conforms to your movements while you work. The Gesture’s backrest allows for a much wider range of movement than the Aeron. The backrest has a thin layer of padding and is meant to be breathable.
While the Gesture has adjustable lumbar support, it is not as pronounced as the PostureFit SL we tested on the Aeron. The Gesture also lacks the ability to lock in a fully upright position. The movement in the backrest does not allow you to hold a position while sitting straight up. The Aeron allows you to work fully upright and their tilt limiter option gives you the option to work in an even more forward position with forward seat tilt.
The armrests are strong points for both chairs. This is the final category that we used our whole office to score. We looked at whether the arms were adjustable enough to get into preferred positions and the comfort of the arm pads themselves. Both chairs scored in the top 3 with the Gesture getting the top spot with an 87/100 and the Aeron close behind at an 81/100.
The thing that makes the Gesture stand out among all the chairs we have tested is its massive armrest adjustment range. It has 4 dimensional arms. They are height, width, depth and pivot adjustable. This isn’t so rare in it of itself, but the ranges on the adjustments are huge. They allow for almost any arm position you could ever want. The pads themselves are stiffer than the Aeron’s but they are still comfortable. They are large and they have enough give to be comfortable for long hours.
The fully adjustable arm option on the Aeron gives you a nice armrest package. They have a good height adjustment range that actually allows them to go lower than the Gesture. They are depth adjustable and they can also pivot. The biggest difference is that they do not have width adjustment. This gives the Gesture an edge when it comes to adjustability. The Aeron does have really comfy arm pads though. They are thick and squishy. They feel really nice on your forearms and elbows.
Both chairs have good adjustability but the Gesture definitely has the edge here. When fully loaded, the Aeron will have seat height, arm height, arm depth, arm pivot, adjustable lumbar, three position tilt lock, forward seat tilt and tension adjustment. The Gesture will have all of those adjustments, except the forward seat tilt, but it has seat depth and arm width adjustments. These adjustments are more important than forward seat tilt so they are given more weight.
The recline motion is going to feel different on these chairs. The Aeron has a classic rocking motion. Your backrest and seat tilt at almost the same angle so you stay in a very similar posture through the entire recline. When reclined all the way back, the back of the seat is dropped down a lot. The arms come with you so you stay in virtually the same position when rocking in the chair. The Aeron feels nice to rock in. It is balanced and feels natural.
The Gesture has a synchro-tilt mechanism. This means that the backrest reclines at a certain rate compared to the seat tilting. The ratio is usually 2:1. This means that reclining the backrest 2” would tilt the seat back 1”. This allows you to stay in an ergonomic position while reclining and also giving you the ability to rock in the chair. Overall, both chairs function differently but they both feel really good to recline in.
Steelcase offers a wide selection of color options on the Gesture. There are 14 colors to choose from in the base fabric option. The base fabric is commercial grade polyester that has been tested to 100,000 double rubs. You can upgrade your fabric with an additional 60 options to choose from. The prices on the upgraded fabrics range from $13-$56. Steelcase also offers the Gesture in genuine leather with six colors to choose from. The upcharge for the leather is $488.00.
The Aeron is only available in all mesh and Herman Miller chose to go with some of the highest quality mesh on the market. It is a combination of polyester and elastomeric material. The mesh is soft to the touch, flexible and retains its shape. It has been tested to 200,000 double rubs so it is also durable. The Aeron is only available in three mesh colors: graphite, carbon and mineral. Graphite is black, carbon is medium gray and mineral is a really light gray. The carbon and mineral are an upcharge of $140.00.
Each chair is available in a few different finish options. Steelcase offers color options for the frame and base. The frame is available in black, dark gray, light gray or a combination of dark and light gray. All of the grey options come at a $31 upcharge. Steelcase gives you the option to choose between a base that matches the frame or you can upgrade to a polished aluminum base for $94.00.
Herman Miller offers the Aeron in three finish options. They are the same options as the mesh: graphite, carbon and mineral. You can also choose between three base finish options: graphite, satin aluminum or polished aluminum. The satin aluminum has a low shine and the polished has a high shine. The polished aluminum base has an upcharge of $120.00 and the satin aluminum is $80.00.
The Aeron and Gesture have a ton of good things going for them. It is no surprise that they both placed in the top four on our list of best office chairs for 2019. They are both well built with clean designs. The Aeron edged out the Gesture in build quality and back support scores. The Gesture has the advantage in adjustability and seat comfort. They both have great warranties and arrive fully assembled. The costs are also similar. It may just come down to whether or not you want a mesh chair or a chair that comes in fabric or leather. Whatever factors you decide are most important will push you towards one model over the other. I hope this comparison has made it easy to see the differences so that you know which direction to lean in your search for a new high-end ergonomic chair.
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