Today we are going to be taking a close look at one of the most iconic office chairs of the past three decades, the Aeron by Herman Miller. I have seen the chair at trade shows and had the chance to sit in it for very short stints at a time. Recently, we brought in a bunch of different ergonomic chairs to make our list of the best office chairs for 2019. One of those was the Aeron.
The Aeron has been a bit of a polarizing chair in the office furniture world. Some of its supporters swear by it and will defend its comfort and design until the bitter end. Others haven’t held back in sharing their disdain for the chair. We wanted to find out for ourselves how the chair performs and how comfortable it really is.
Bringing in the chair gave us the opportunity to use it for prolonged hours at a time and also gain feedback from a range of people within our own office. This review will share our experience with the Aeron. We will go over the reasons why the chair has become so popular and we will also cover some of the potential pitfalls that may make it a bad fit for your needs.
Note: The options that are included on the Aeron for this review are: graphite frame and base, size B, adjustable PostureFit SL, tilt limiter and seat angle, fully adjustable arms, standard arm pads and 2.5” carpet casters. The price for an Aeron with these options is $1,275.00.
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Aeron Chair Review Snapshot
- Made in USA with high end build quality
- Nice recline function
- Comfortable arms
- Forward seat tilt
- Strong warranty
- Rated for 24/7 use
- Ships fully assembled
- Can feel frame on seat and back
- Seat may not be comfortable
- No seat depth adjustment
- No back height adjustment
- Limited color options
The Aeron chair is made by Herman Miller. Herman Miller is one of the oldest and most successful office furniture brands in the world. Herman Miller has been in business since 1923. It was originally known as the Michigan Star Furniture Company and they focused mainly on home furniture. The Michigan Star Furniture Company was started in 1905 and was purchased by De Pree in 1923. De Pree started at the company in 1909 as a clerk. With the help of his father in law, Herman Miller, De Pree purchased the Michigan Star Furniture Company. Out of respect for his father-in-law, De Pree renamed the company to Herman Miller.
Herman Miller struggled through the great depression and eventually moved into the office furniture space. It quickly gained notoriety for hiring well known designers and focusing on modem as well as industrial designs.
Herman Miller has since gone public and expanded to become one of the largest office furniture companies in the world. Herman Miller has factories in the US, UK, Italy and China and a sales presence in over 100 countries across the globe. Herman Miller has also acquired a number of office furniture related brands to expand its company and vertically integrate.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Specs / Features / Pricing
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Shipping and Assembly
– Build Quality
– Scope of Users
– Seat Comfort
– Back Support
– Armrest Comfort
– Ergonomics Adjustments
– Upholstery Options
– Mechanism Options
– Wheel/Caster Options
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Bottom Line
The Herman Miller Aeron Chair Review
Country of Origin
Made in USA
|Chair Size||Small (A)||Medium (B)||Large (C)|
|Weight Capacity||300 lbs.||350 lbs.||350 lbs.|
|Seat Dimensions||15.75”W x 16.75”D||17”W x 16.75”D||18.25”W x 18.5”D|
|Backrest Dimensions||20.25”W x 21”H||21.5”W x 22”H||22.75”W x 23”H|
|Distance Between Armrests||16”W||17”W||18”W|
|Arms Lowest Height from Floor||21.75”H||23”H||24.75”H|
|Arms Highest Height from Floor||30.25”H||31.5”H||26.25”H|
|Chair Weight||40 lbs.||41 lbs.||43 lbs.|
|Shipping Box Dimensions||41″ x 28″ x 27″||41″ x 28″ x 27″||41″ x 28″ x 27″|
|Shipping Box Weight||45 lbs.||46 lbs.||48 lbs.|
Breathable mesh backrest
Pneumatic seat height adjustment
Tilt tension adjustment
Arm height adjustment
Arm depth adjustment
Forward seat tilt
2.5” dual wheel casters
Starting Price – $995.00
If you choose the most basic version of the Aeron, you can get your hands on one for $920.00. This version will have a graphite frame and base, basic back support, standard tilt, stationary arms, standard arm pads and 2.5” carpet casters. If you want to upgrade your Aeron, the options and costs are listed below.
|Mineral frame, polished aluminum base||$260.00|
|Mineral frame, satin aluminum base||$220.00|
|Graphite frame, polished aluminum base||$120.00|
|Adjustable lumbar support||$75.00|
|Adjustable PostureFit SL||$95.00|
|Tilt limiter and seat angle||$100.00|
|Height adjustable arms||$100.00|
|Fully adjustable arms||$160.00|
|Leather arm pads||$80.00|
|2.5” Casters for hard floors||$50.00|
Herman Miller offers a 30 day return policy on the Aeron. If you wish to return your chair, Herman Miller will cover the costs of the return shipment and will give you a full refund. It is recommended that you use the original packaging, but Herman Miller will still work with you on a return if you do not have it.
Herman Miller includes a 12 year warranty on the Aeron chair. There are no parts on the chair that are excluded from the 12 year period. The warranty is valid for 24/7 round the clock use. The size A version is covered for 300 lbs. Sizes B and C are covered for people up to 350 lbs.
If a chair needs to be repaired, the costs will be covered by Herman Miller. They will also send on-site technicians to make repairs, depending on what’s needed and your location. Herman Miller’s warranty is one of the best warranties you will find in the entire office industry.
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The Aeron ships FedEx Ground in a large box, weighing around 50 lbs. I would recommend having someone available to help you carry the box into your office. Herman Miller designed the box with some handles cut into the sides. This will make it easier to move if you do not have anyone to help you.
The Aeron is packaged with a minimal amount of cardboard inside the box. It also lacks foam that you will find with a lot of other office chairs. The entire chair is inside a plastic bag to help keep it from getting dirty. Overall, the chair is well packaged so there is very little chance for damage.
The Aeron arrived at our location fully assembled. The box is designed so that you can open it from the side, which makes it easy to roll the chair out. You do not have to cut the box open, or tip it over. You can simply cut the tape on one flap, slide the chair out, and it is ready for use.
The Aeron currently holds the highest build quality score we have given to a chair with a 95/100. There was a lot of thought put into the build on the Aeron. Everything about the build on the Aeron is top of the line. It is made in the USA with high quality components throughout. All of the plastic used is good quality and the mesh upholstery is the nicest I have seen on a chair.
Almost every part on the Aeron was designed and made specifically for the Aeron. This is not a chair that was pieced together with generic parts that are used for numerous different chair models. The fit and finish on the Aeron are top notch. All the parts go together perfectly. They do not wiggle or show awkward gaps. The chair fits together nicely and has a clean design.
Scope of Users
The scope of users category focuses on the size range of people that can comfortably fit into a chair. The Aeron is a weird chair when looking at scope of users because it comes in three different sizes. This is both a big negative and a big positive. Other high-end chairs aim to fit the 95th percentile of people in one chair. Having a chair that can accommodate the 95th percentile makes it a good option for areas that chairs will be shared and used by different people.
The big downside with the Aeron having three sizes is that none of the sizes will fit the 95th percentile. This means that if you are ordering chairs for an entire office, you will need to get different sizes, depending on the people that will be sitting in the chair. This is the reason why the Aeron only scored 66/100 for the scope of users score.
The upside to having three different chair sizes is that the Aeron can fit the 1st-99th percentile. Almost anyone can order the Aeron in a size that will be a comfortable fit. Below, I will break down the height and weight recommendations for each chair size.
|Height Range||4’10” – 5’9”||5’2” – 6’6”||5’3”-6’7”|
|Weight Range||90 – 150 lbs.||130 – 325 lbs.||180 – 350 lbs.|
The seat comfort on the Aeron is going to be a love it or hate it type of feeling. The 8Z Pellicle mesh has good flexibility and is soft to the touch. It is meant to provide a feeling that you are floating. The sitting experience on the Aeron is quite firm though. Some people like the way a firm seat feels but others do not. The Aeron’s seat is designed with pronounced side bolsters, so you feel like you are sitting in the seat and not on top of it. This can be a limiting factor with your range of motion in the chair.
The seat frame can also be an issue because there are times that you can feel the frame, which is uncomfortable. The Aeron does not have seat depth adjustment, so you are not able to move the front of the seat frame to a more comfortable location. Our office did not love the seat comfort on the Aeron. It received a score of 73/100, which is in the bottom third of the chairs we have tested so far.
The Aeron’s backrest is made from the same 8Z Pellicle mesh as the seat. The back flares out at the top and has a large natural curve for lumbar support. The backrest is designed in a way to keep your entire back against it, instead of other models that don’t feel natural to fully lean against. It feels natural to use the entire backrest on the Aeron, whether you are fully upright or reclining. The mesh is also nice because it is breathable. There is no overheating or sweating like you may find on some other chair models.
The backrest on the Aeron comes in three different options. The standard version is called “Zonal Back Support” and just features the backrest, with no addition for extra lumbar support. You can upgrade to “Adjustable Lumbar Support,” which gives you a more pronounced lumbar support, and is also height adjustable. The 3rd option is the “Adjustable PostureFit SL,” which is the most advanced lumbar system available on the Aeron. The PostureFit SL provides more support to specific areas of the lower back and it can also be adjusted to ensure that it fits you properly.
The chair we tested featured the PostureFit SL system so we cannot comment on the back comfort for the other two options. We did have a good experience with the PostureFit SL lumbar system though. Our office liked the overall comfort on the Aeron’s backrest. It currently holds a top-five back comfort score out of all the chairs we have tested.
The arms on the Aeron are attached to the backrest and therefore move with you when you recline the back. This helps to keep your arms in a comfortable posture no matter the position you are in. The arms come in a few different options. The first thing to consider is how much adjustability you would like. You can choose between stationary arms, height adjustable arms or fully adjustable arms.
We opted for the fully adjustable arms, which gives you height adjustment, arm pad depth adjustment and pivoting arm pads. The 3-dimensional arms are not as adjustable as some of the other chairs we have tested but they are adjustable enough to offer good customization with a variety of different arm positions.
Your second choice with the arms is to go with the standard arm pads or the leather arm pads. We chose to go with the standard arm pads, and we were not disappointed. The standard arm pads are made from polyurethane foam and are soft to the touch. The arm pad comfort on the Aeron was a big hit in our office. It scored an 81/100, which is currently in the top three most comfortable arms.
The Aeron did not receive the best score for ergonomic adjustments because it is missing two key adjustments: seat depth adjustment and armrest width adjustment. This cost the Aeron 32 points in our scoring system, which ultimately lead to a score of 61/100. Having three different chair sizes helps with the lack of seat depth adjustment and arm width adjustment because you have a little wiggle room to get more or less space, depending on your size.
The Aeron does have some nice ergonomic adjustments though. It has a large arm height adjustment range and a good seat height range. This will help to ensure that most people can get their knees and elbows at 90°. The Aeron does not have back height adjustment but the adjustable lumbar support options help to give you back support where you need it.
The Aeron features a tilt function with tension adjustment and tilt lock. The Aeron also gives you the option to get forward seat tilt. This is a rarely seen function that allows you to work in a more forward position than simply having the backrest in the upright position. This is most often used by people that do a lot of typing.
Something that I really like about the ergonomics with the Aeron is that the chair keeps you in the same comfortable position no matter how far you recline. The entire chair is designed to move with you, which offers the proper amount of support no matter how much you recline. The chair feels so natural to recline in that I found myself rocking back and forth in the Aeron much more so than the other chairs I tested.
The Aeron comes with two different caster options. Both caster options are 2.5” in diameter and are high quality. A lot of chairs feature casters that are 2” so having slightly larger casters is an upgrade to a lot of chairs. The casters are all black nylon, so they are sleek, and they also roll smoothly.
The first option is standard carpet casters. These casters are designed for low to medium pile carpets. This will be the most common casters purchased with the Aeron chair.
The second option is hard floor or carpet roll-away resistant casters with quiet roll technology. These casters are made from nylon, but they feature a soft tread that helps to reduce noise while providing better traction on hard surfaces. These casters are designed to be used on surfaces such as wood, tile or concrete. They are also a nice option for people that are using the Aeron on a carpeted surface but need a braking system. These casters feature a subtle braking system that helps to keep the chairs from rolling around while they are not being sat in.
The mechanism on the Aeron is available in two different options: standard tilt or tilt limiter with seat angle adjustment. Each option is a mechanism that was designed specifically for the Aeron. Neither is a standard knee tilt or synchro-tilt mechanism. They almost feel like a combination of the two. They function smoothly and keep you in a comfortable position.
The standard tilt mechanism comes with a tension adjustment, but you will not get any lockable positions. The chair will always be in a free recline mode. Upgrading to the tilt limiter, with seat angle adjustment, gives you the ability to lock the backrest in three different positions. One position is fully upright, the next is a mid-recline and the final spot is a full recline. You also gain the ability to use a forward seat tilt function. This will put you even more forward than the fully upright position.
The Aeron is only available in all mesh. This means that you will have a mesh seat and mesh back with no padding. Herman Miller uses some of the highest quality mesh I have seen. It is called 8Z Pellicle. It is composed of 56” elastomeric and 44% polyester material. It is a new version of Pellicle mesh that was selected for the new remastered Aeron. It is soft to the touch, flexible and we have not had any problems with it damaging clothing, which is something we have seen on lower quality mesh chairs.
Along with being comfortable to the touch, the mesh is also durable. It has been tested at 200,000 double rubs. The easiest way to convey what a double rub is, is that it is a rough simulation of someone sitting down and then standing up from the chair. At 200,000 double rubs, this is mesh that is built to last.
One drawback to the remastered Aeron, compared to the classic, is that there are less color options. Herman Miller chose to go with three different 8Z Pellicle mesh color options. The colors are graphite, carbon and mineral. Graphite is close to back. Carbon is a medium gray. Mineral is a light gray. The color choices on the remastered Aeron are much more basic but they are nice options to go with almost any office décor.
You have a bit of customization with the color on the frame and base. The frame is available in graphite or mineral finish. Graphite is almost black and gives you the look of the classic Aeron chair. Mineral is the lightest color, which was selected by Herman Miller for open office areas.
The base is available in a polished aluminum, satin aluminum or graphite finish. Graphite will be the darkest color and has no shine. The satin aluminum will have a bit of a luster to it and the polished aluminum will have the most shine.
Herman Miller puts a lot of thought into how their products will affect the environment and the Aeron is no exception. The Aeron is composed of 39% recycled content, 38% post-consumer content and 91% of the chair is recyclable.
The Aeron has received several environmental certifications. Some of the certifications are due to the materials used and their low impact on the environment. Others are for indoor air quality. The environmental certifications are: BIFMA level™ 3, CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED™, Silver GREENGUARD Certified, GREENGUARD GOLD Certified.
The Aeron is made in Herman Miller’s Greenhouse manufacturing factory. It is made with 100% renewable electric energy. It is ISO 14001/OHSAS 18001 certified. The packaging is also friendly to the environment. The corrugated cardboard makes up 99% of the packaging and is recycled content.
What Do I Like?
Made in USA with high-end build quality
The Aeron is one of the nicest office chairs we have had through our office. It is also made in the USA, which is great for those of you that only buy American made products.
Nice recline function
My favorite thing about the Aeron is how nice the reclining function feels. I have never used a chair that has made me want to recline like the Aeron does. It feels really balanced and keeps you in the same position through the entire recline.
The arms on the Aeron provide good comfort. They have enough adjustability to offer a range of positions and the arm pads are among the most comfortable arm pads I have used.
Forward seat tilt option
The forward seat tilt option is a nice feature to have if you are into heavy tasking and typing. It puts you slightly more forward than the fully upright position. This puts you in a posture with your back straight up and down and you are positioned over your keyboard instead of reaching out for it.
Very strong warranty
Herman Miller offers one of the best warranties in the business. When you buy an Aeron chair, you know that you are investing in a chair that will last 12 years, at minimum.
Rated for 24/7 use
The Aeron is rated for round the clock use, so this is a nice option for places like call centers and dispatcher centers that want a mesh chair. Herman Miller is also confident enough in the build quality on the Aeron that they offer the same 12-year warranty for 24-hour usage.
Adjustable lumbar support
The adjustable lumbar support is a nice upgrade on the Aeron. It helps to give the chair better lumbar support because you can fine tune it to the way you like it. I also liked that the PostureFit SL system covers such a large vertical area. It makes the lumbar system unique among its peers.
Ships fully assembled
Being able to roll the chair right out of the box and not have to deal with any assembly was really nice.
The Aeron is a nice option for people out there that want to make sure the chair they buy has a small environmental impact.
What Don’t I Like?
Can feel frame
The Aeron has a thick frame on both the seat and backrest. This can be annoying at times because you can feel it when you move into certain positions. You may be able to feel it on the back of your thighs or calves. The side bolsters are really pronounced so you could feel those on your hips or outer thighs. You may also be able to feel the frame on your upper back if you lean back.
Seat may be uncomfortable
Mesh seats are not going to be for everyone. I am a person that is not a fan of mesh seats. While the Aeron is the most comfortable all mesh chair I have sat in, it still became uncomfortable on the back of my legs after about 3-4 full days of using the chair.
3 different chair sizes
The Aeron may not be the best option if you need to buy a lot of the same chair for an office. Having three different sizes may make it difficult to always have the proper sizes available for each employee. This is also true for home office applications where two people share the same chair, but they are not the same size.
No seat depth adjustment
The Aeron chair does not have seat depth adjustment. Seat depth adjustment is almost a given on an ergonomic chair with such a high price point. The Aeron comes in three different sizes which may be a reason why Herman Miller didn’t put a seat slider on the Aeron. It would certainly help with the customization of the seat comfort though.
No back-height adjustment
The Aeron does not have back height adjustment. This is not as common to see as the seat depth and is another area where different size options helps to mitigate the lack of back height adjustment. It would be nice to have some adjustment because it would help with the problem mentioned earlier, being uncomfortable when you lean back with the metal bar on the backrest.
Limited color options
The remastered Aeron has a small color selection. Herman Miller chose to go with a more neutral color palette. If you are looking for a colorful mesh chair, then the Aeron is not going to be the best choice.
There is a reason the Aeron has become one of the most popular office chairs in the world. It has a lot of attractive features. Even though it has a high price point, it can definitely be justified with what you are getting. It is one of the most well-made office chairs available and it comes with one of the best warranties out there. It can be used around the clock, has a 350-pound weight rating and will fit 99% of the population with its three different sizes.
It also has some features that add to the comfort. The armrests and backrest were liked in our office and scored well in our group testing. Those aspects, combined with the nice recline function, really help to make the Aeron a strong contender for one of the most comfortable mesh office chairs on the market.
Even the highend chairs have downsides. We have yet to test an office chair that didn’t have something that may be a potential problem for some people. This holds true for the Aeron. It is missing a few ergonomic adjustments that some people may want. Things like back height adjustment and a seat slider are not available on the Aeron.
The frame and mesh seat may also be a turn off for some. The mesh seat is going to be hit or miss depending on your preference. If you have tried a mesh seat before and didn’t like the way it felt, then the Aeron may not be a good fit. if you like the way a mesh seat feels and are looking for a top of the line product, then you should definitely consider going with the Aeron.