The Haworth Fern is one of the most popular chairs in the high-end office furniture industry. Haworth itself is one of the largest furniture brands in the world, earning over $2 billion annually in sales. Based out of Holland, Michigan, Haworth is a family-owned business that has been around since 1948, making everything you can think of in the office furniture world. When they recently released the Fern, it became their flagship office chair, being the highest-end and most ergonomic chair in the lineup. The Fern features a ton of new designs and features that their previous chairs didn’t have to offer. In this blog, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the Haworth Fern.
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Haworth Fern Review Snapshot
- Wide range of ergonomic adjustments
- Great build quality
- Good seat comfort
- Excellent arm adjustments and good comfort
- Ships fully assembled
- 4-layer backrest design with excellent flexibility
- Forward seat tilt available
- No back height adjustment
- 3-year warranty on upholstery
- Lumbar support may be too pronounced for some
Watch Haworth Fern Review Video
Haworth Fern Review
- Starting Price
- Return Policy & Warranty
- Shipping & Assembly
- Build Quality
- Seat Comfort
- Back Comfort
- Armrest Comfort
- Custom Options
- Environmental Impact
- Bottom Line
The first, and maybe the most important thing we’ll touch on is the price of the chair. It’s difficult to nail down one specific price on this chair because there are a few options on the Haworth website. In terms of a comparable price range, the Fern is similarly priced to the Steelcase Leap and Gesture.
- Country of Origin: Made in USA
- Overall Height: 41.5″-47″
- Overall Width: 29″
- Overal Depth: 28.5″
- Arm Height: 6.7″-11.5″
- Seat Height: 16.5″-21.5″
- Seat Width: 19.9″
- Seat Depth: 15.5″-18.5″
Haworth does offer a nice return policy if you choose to buy it directly through them on their website. You’ll have 30 days to try the chair and if you don’t like it, they will pick it up and pay for the return shipping, while giving you a full refund. If you chose to buy it through an authorized dealer, contact them beforehand so you understand what the return policy is, as it often won’t be the same as Haworth’s.
The warranty for this chair offers 12 years of coverage for 24/7 use at a 325 lb. weight capacity. This is comparable to other high-end office chair brands like Herman Miller, Knoll, and Steelcase. Something that’s a little disappointing about the warranty is that the fabric on the chair is only covered for three years. Haworth’s competitors listed above typically cover fabric on chairs for 12 years on most office chairs. Even a lot of lower-end brands offer five years of coverage on chair fabric, so it’s important to consider this when comparing warranties.
After you purchase your chair, Haworth sends it to your door fully assembled. This is nice because there is often some sort of assembly needed from other high-end brands. With the Fern, you can simply unpackage it, take it out of the box, and immediately start sitting in it. Because the chair is fully assembled, it does require a large box on the back of a LTL or freight truck, so you’ll need to unload the box from a truck. It arrives on a pallet and is fairly heavy, so you may need to have two people on-had to help, or some kind of dolly.
The Haworth Fern is a very high-end chair that tested very high on our build quality category with a 90/100, which puts it near the top of our chair list. Haworth put a lot of time into the design and development of this chair. Partnering with ITO Designs, the Haworth Design institute used 16 patents, included the Human Performance Institute at Western Michigan University, and pulled people from across the country to test and give their opinions about the new technology. Reminiscent of the Herman Miller Embody, this chair uses unique tech and design that feels well built, smooth functioning, and looks very clean.
In our seat comfort testing, the Haworth Fern seat scored a 77/100. The way our comfort testing is done, is we allow every tester to spend time in each chair, and then score the seat, back, and arms from 0 to 100. Once every tester has scored the chair, we average the scores from each category. On our list, the lowest score was 65 and there were four scores over 80. With that being said, a 77 rating shows that this is overall, a very consistently comfortable seat for most people.
The design of the seat itself is large and spacious. It has no hard edges and is equipped with a waterfall front preventing it from having any plastic in the front of the seat. The large seat allows you to sit in a variety of positions, so people who move around a lot or sit cross legged will like this chair. Haworth makes quite a bit of effort to advertise its flexible front seat edge, but we found it wasn’t as flexible as we anticipated. It does somewhat move, but we don’t’ consider it to be as flexible as the Knoll Regeneration, Steelcase Leap, or Herman Miller Embody.
There are about three inches of foam on the seat, but it is more of a firm sitting experience. It looks very thick and soft but once you sit in it, you realize that you won’t sink in as much as it looks like you will. We find firm seats like this on most high-end and ergonomic office chairs, so if you’re looking for a more plush design, this may not be the chair for you.
In our backrest comfort testing, the Fern scored a 68/10. We believe this score is deceptively low because there are two very low scores bringing the average down. Upon questioning, we learned the individuals who scored the backrest comfort so low was because it was too aggressive for their posture. With that being said, we did have three individuals score this chair in the 80s and most of the rest in the 70s. Overall, we believe this backrest will be comfortable for most people.
The Haworth Fern has one of the most unique backrest designs that we’ve seen on an office chair. The design four different specific layers within the backrest. Designed like a fern (plant), this chair’s backrest is made up of the Wave Suspension System, which features four different parts. The first layer of the back is the Stem, which works as the middle component of the chair that goes down the center of the backrest and along your spine. Next, are the fronds, which extend outwards and support all along the sides of your back like leaves on a fern. These two components are held in place by what Haworth calls the cradle. This is a flexible system holds the fronds under tension to provide support to the user throughout their sitting experience. All three of these parts are wrapped in a 3D outer layer that is soft and flexible for users to lean on. This creates a unique feeling when sitting in the chair because you can feel each sublayer, but at the same time have a suspended feeling. This backrest can move, flex, and shift with you more so than most other chairs we’ve tested. If you’re looking for a backrest that move and shifts with you while you’re sitting, this may be the chair for you.
The overall shape of the backrest is tall and supportive from the base all the way up to your shoulders, which is not something we find on all high-end chairs. It also has a very nice natural curve that provides good lumbar support.
You can choose to upgrade to an adjustable lumbar support system on this chair which we found to be very pronounced. This is one of the most aggressive adjustable lumbar support systems that we’ve seen in an office chair. One thing that it is lacking is the ability to adjust the depth or how pronounced the support is, you can only control the height. If you’re someone who likes a lot of lumbar support this may be a good upgrade for you.
During our armrest comfort testing of this chair, the Fern scored a 70/100. Of the chairs we tested, a 70 is an above average score, as the Fern offers great overall adjustability. The arms we tested were the upgraded, fully adjustable package, which are some of the most adjustable in the market. We highly recommend upgrading to this package if you can, because you’ll get height, width, depth, and pivot adjustments, as well as a unique articulation motion that we’ve only seen on the Steelcase Leap and Gesture. You’ll get much more range and comfort out of these arms in comparison to other high-end chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron and Embody, which are listed at a much higher price point.
The arm caps themselves are soft, but not to the point where they feel like they’ll wear out easily. They provide good support and don’t move when you don’t intend for them to move. They also have nice, rounded edges so your arms rest comfortably while using.
One thing you can say about these armrests is that they aren’t as solid as the arms from chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron or the Steelcase Leap and Gesture. They do flex and wiggle a little more than we anticipated for a high-end chair, which is one of the main reasons why it didn’t score quite as high on the armrest score as other high-end chairs.
Something we liked most about the Fern was its intricate adjustment package. Starting with the seat height adjustment, it has a good range of 16 ½ -21 ½ inches, which covers the 5%-95% of users sitting in the chair. You can also upgrade to a seat depth adjustment, which allows shorter and taller people to ensure they fit in the chair. The chair also features four-way adjustable arms and an optional forward tilt you can upgrade to if you like to work in a forward, perched position.
The chair comes with five different locking positions and a very responsive tension control. A lot of office chair tend to have tension control systems that don’t do much or make it so you have to crank the lever around 20 or 30 times to make a difference in the tension. With the Fern, you can turn the level a couple times and you’ll feel an immediate difference.
Something we like about all of these adjustments are how easy they are to access from a seated position. You don’t need to get out of the chair or stand in an awkward position to make any adjustments as all of the levers and buttons are easy to reach and use.
Another thing we like about this chair was the way it reclined. It has a nice synchro tilt mechanism that is very smooth and keeps you in an ergonomic position. It makes it very easy move around in the chair and has a huge range in comparison to other high-end chairs.
Lastly, the fern comes with an optional headrest addition. This fits nicely on top of the chair and features height adjustment. Unfortunately, this headrest lacks depth and tilt adjustment and isn’t as soft as it may appear. Testers found it to be much firmer than the seat backrest, not allowing your head to sink into it at all. If you are a fan of headrests that are on your head or neck all the time, then this may be a nice option for you. However, we found this to be one of the more invasive headrests on the list, meaning you will not be able to avoid it like some of the other chairs out there, almost to the point where it may take some of the flexibility out of the backrest.
To calculate an ergonomic score, we factor in our three comfort scores with the total amount of adjustments a chair has to figure out a final score. The Fern tested very well under these conditions with an 87/100, making it one of the highest rated chairs we have in the office.
The Fern chair is available in a ton of different options. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find these options on the Haworth website or their authorized dealer websites when you’re trying to buy the chair online. There, you’ll find paired down versions, very limited color selections, and limited adjustment upgrades. If you’re looking for custom type additions or attributes like an all-plastic frame, specialized casters, or custom upholstery, we recommend reaching out to Haworth directly and putting it on a specialized order because that’s how you’re going to get exactly what you want out of your chair.
Haworth is a lot like Herman Miller and Steelcase when it comes to affecting the environment, and they try to put as little of an impact as possible when creating the Fern chair. This chair is Greenguard Gold Certified, BIFMA Level 3, and made in a zero-landfill facility in Bruce, Mississippi. The chair itself is composed of 90% recycled materials. A lot of effort was put into this chair to not impact the environment, so if that’s important to you, then it’s definitely worth considering the Haworth Fern Chair.
The Haworth Fern competes with some of the most high-end office chairs on the market from brands like Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Humanscale. Its higher price is made up for with ergonomic value, as this is one of the most unique and adjustable chairs we’ve tested. On top of that, this is a chair has some of the more attractive features and designs, making it one of the most review requested chairs we’ve had in our office.
It’s hard to find any major problems with this chair, as it boasts unique technology and comfortable features. The adjustments are easy to operate and fit to your specific needs making it one of the highest rated chairs we have in the office for ergonomics.
While this is a great ergonomic chair, there are some issues that you can pick out. One downside to purchasing this chair is the warranty on the fabric is only covered for three years. It doesn’t quite match up with some other high-end chairs of similar quality and ergonomics. Other issues consist of lack of seat flexibility and stiff lumbar support, which is very subjective to different users.
Additional Office Chair Resources
- Herman Miller Aeron Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- Steelcase Leap v2 Ergonomic Office Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- Humanscale Diffrient Smart Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- 5 Reasons Ergonomic Chairs Will Improve Your Back Pain
- 6 Common Problems With Mesh Office Chairs
- 9 Most Common Problems With The Raynor Ergohuman Chair