Today we will be taking a closer look at another popular chair from Herman Miller, the Embody. The Embody was among the 20+ chairs we brought in to compile our best office chair list for 2019. The Embody ended up snagging a top three spot on that list and it also became my new everyday chair. It was really fun to have so many chairs to choose from, to test and use over the past few months. Different people in our office have different tastes so it was interesting to see what chairs ended up being the favorites.
I am very particular about my chair. I have used the same Nightingale CXO chair for around 10 years. I have seen a lot of nice chairs but have never found anything that I felt was worthy of dethroning my CXO. Then I found the Embody. I have been in the Embody for a couple months now, so I have a good amount of experience to reflect on to make this review. I will go over the reasons why I like this chair, point out any possible downsides I have found, along with any potential concerns from other people in our office from their testing. The Embody is not going to be the best chair for everyone. Hopefully, this review helps you to decide if the Embody is a good fit for your needs.
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Herman Miller Embody Review Snapshot
- Made in USA with High-end build quality
- Fits wide range of people
- Pixelated Support conforms to your body type
- Flexible seat and back allow for movement
- Independent back angle adjustment
- Very strong warranty
- Rated for 24/7 use
- Ships fully assembled
- High price point
- No lumbar adjustment
- No arm pad adjustment
- Limited upholstery options
- Pixelated Support is not for everyone
Herman Miller is the maker of the Embody chair and they tasked Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber with the responsibility of designing the chair. Herman Miller has been in business since 1923 and was founded by De Pree. The company originally started as the Michigan Star Furniture Company but pivoted to the name Herman Miller, after De Pree’s father-in-law. With the name change, also came a change in the company’s focus. Instead of home furniture, Herman Miller became a leader in the office furniture space.
Since then, Herman Miller has expanded to be one of the largest furniture brands in the world. They have factories and office locations in numerous countries. By hiring well known designers and focusing on high quality products, Herman Miller has positioned themselves as one of the most prominent brands in the industry.
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
Country of Origin
Made in USA
Overall Dimensions: 29.5”W x 26.5”D x 42-45”H
Seat Height: 16” – 20.5”
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.
Seat Dimensions: 21.25”W x 15”-18”D
Back Dimensions: 14”W x 23.5”H
Distance Between Arms: 11.5” – 21”
Arm Height from Seat: 4” – 8.75”
Base Dimensions: 26.5” Diameter
Chair Weight: 51 lbs.
Shipping Box Dimensions: 40.5” x 28.5” x 28”
Shipping Box Weight: 63 lbs.
Pixelated support system
Pneumatic seat height adjustment
Tilt tension adjustment
Seat depth adjustment
Tilt lock with 3 positions
Arm height adjustment
Arm width adjustment
BackFit™ back angle adjustment
Starting Price – $1,395.00
There is not very much customization on the Embody. You can choose between different finishes, upholsteries and casters, but any functionality options are included on the chair. The chair we ordered for testing features rhythm green apple upholstery, black frame finish, graphite base finish, and carpet casters. This model sells for the base price of $1,395.00.
|White frame finish||$25.00|
|Titanium finish base||$25.00|
|Polished aluminum finish base||$240.00|
|Hard floor casters||$40.00|
Herman Miller allows returns on the Embody for up to 30 days and you will get a full refund. Herman Miller does not charge a restocking fee and they will also cover the return shipping charges. It is best if you hold on to your original packaging in order to make a return, but Herman Miller will work with you on a return if you no longer have the packaging.
The Embody is covered by a 12-year warranty. The warranty is valid for 24/7 use and for people weighing up to 300 lbs. There are no parts of the chair that are excluded from the 12 years of coverage. The Embody is a complicated chair so making repairs may require professional assistance. If that is the case, then Herman Miller will send technicians, for no charge to you, if you are close to a dealer. If you are not close to a dealer, then Herman Miller will cover the shipping to have the chair sent back to be repaired in-house.
After Months of Testing, We Have Picked The Best Office Chairs For 2019!
Our Embody arrived via FedEx/UPS ground. It arrived in a large box that weighs over 60 lbs. I would highly recommend having someone available to help you move the chair. Herman Miller does have a couple handles on the side of the box that will help if you decide to move it yourself. The chair has very little packaging, but is designed to hold the chair in place while in transit. We did not have any damage to our Embody and I would expect that to be the case with most Embody chairs.
The Embody chair arrived to us fully assembled. The box is designed so that you can open the side of the box and then roll the chair out. You just need to remove a plastic bag and the chair is ready to go. This is great for those of you that don’t want to perform a chair assembly. This is also a nice option if you have a lot of chairs to order because you do not have to deal with installation time and costs.
Herman Miller put a lot of thought into the design of the Embody. It was designed by Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber. Their goal was to create a highly ergonomic chair that would actually turn the negative effects of sitting into a net positive. More than 20 physicians and PhDs, in various fields, were consulted in order to make the Embody chair. With such high profile designers, a plethora of data and the high-end components Herman Miller is known for, it was inevitable that the Embody would end up being one of the nicest ergonomic chairs available.
We ended up scoring the Embody’s build quality at 89/100, which is one of the highest scores we have given. There are several reasons for this. Herman Miller makes the Embody in the USA with some of the best components we have seen. There is a lot of custom molded aluminum and plastic. The chair also has a lot of steel, so it is heavy and feels substantial.
The Embody has a high-end mechanism and a unique pixelated support system throughout the seat and back. The attention to detail on the Embody’s functionality is noticeable. The Embody also has a nice fit and finish. The parts fit together and function smoothly. The chair has a very specific look, but it is clean and can fit in a lot of different office environments.
Scope of Users
The Embody was designed to fit a large range of people. It scored a 75/100 for this category, which is actually one of the highest scores given. One reason why it is behind chairs, like the Steelcase Leap and Gesture, is because the Steelcase chairs have weight ratings of 400 lbs., so they will work for heavier people. The Embody has a 300 lb. weight limit.
Other than the weight rating, the Embody does well in every other category. It has a nice seat height range to accommodate the 95th percentile. The backrest is not height adjustable, but the high back design makes it work for most people. The armrests are also adjustable for people that are small, petite, wide and tall. The seat depth adjustment is the final function that really helps the chair to fit many different people.
The seat on the Embody is one of the most unique aspects of the chair and it ended up getting the Embody a 79/100 for seat comfort when we polled our entire office. This isn’t the highest score, but nobody in our office ranked the Embody’s seat comfort lower than a 70/100, so it is a nice option for a wide range of people.
There is really no other chair that has a seat that is designed like the Embody. It is made up of four different layers of different material types. They are designed to give you a breathable material that is also flexible and supportive. Along with the multi-layer set-up, there is also a pixelated support system. The pixels were designed to distribute support to different areas of the seat, depending on your weight and body movements.
The seat is large and features a slight contour. There are no hard frame edges. The seat depth adjustment is a nice feature to help ensure the seat size is right for you to be in the correct ergonomic position. While the seat is quite wide, it does not feel too big. The armrests go narrow enough to allow small people to use the Embody’s seat comfortably. I like the seat because it is not firm, but it does not have a ton of padding. The seat stays cool, but it still feels soft and supportive. I also like that the seat is flexible.
One complaint I did hear from a few people in our office is that they felt that sometimes they could feel the pixels more than they would prefer. Sometimes feeling each individual pixel can be uncomfortable for some people.
While the seat on the Embody is unique, the back may be even more so. Most office chair backs are wide so that they can encompass your entire back. The Embody’s backrest was designed to be much slimmer. It is meant to align with your spine and support your entire spinal curve. Having a skinnier backrest also allows you to move and stretch much easier than other chairs. You just have a wider range of motion to work with. Another cool little aspect to the Embody’s backrest is that the top of it can bend. This gives it even more flexibility for situations when you are fully reclined or locked into an upright position.
Like the pixelated seat support, the backrest also has a pixel system. It is designed to act like the human rib cage. It provides flexibility so that it stays supportive as you move while you are working. The backrest has a pronounced lumbar curve built into the backrest, but it does not have an adjustable lumbar system. It does have independent back angle adjustment though. Herman Miller calls this The BackFit™ adjustment. This adjustment will allow you to fine tune the angle of the backrest, which helps to keep you in the most comfortable position. This is also a nice feature for those of you that like a backrest that goes straight up and down.
The Embody has a high back design so it will be supportive to your upper back. While this will be a positive for some, this was a downside for others in our office. The Embody received a 75/100 for back support in our office polling. There were two complaints I heard from other people. The first is that the backrest can push your shoulders inward. The backrest has a bit of a natural curve, which made it uncomfortable for some people. The next complaint was the lack of any lumbar adjustment system.
The armrest category was the final category that we thought was subjective enough to poll our entire office. They scored a 74/100 after polling our whole office, which was toward the bottom of the top 10. The biggest reason they didn’t receive a higher score is that they are only height and width adjustable. There is no arm pad adjustment, which is something we see on almost all ergonomic office chairs over $500.
The height and width ranges on the arms are among the largest we have tested. The arms go low enough to be almost completely out of the way. They also go high enough for people around that 6’5” mark. The arms go narrow enough for really small people and they also go wide enough for you to utilize the entire 21” wide seat.
I am a fan of the pads themselves. They are large, which helps make up for the lack of depth and pivot adjustments. They are soft and they also have nice rounded edges. I have found the arm pads to be comfortable after using them for several hours in a sitting.
The Embody got docked several points for missing some key ergonomic adjustments. The adjustments it is missing are: back height, arm depth, arm pivot, and lumbar adjustment. Not having these adjustments will make it a bit more difficult to fine tune the Embody, like you can with some other models.
While it is missing some adjustments, it does have some nice adjustability. It has pneumatic seat height adjustment and seat depth adjustment. The seat depth adjustment can be a bit finicky sometimes, but it is still a welcome feature. The arm height and width adjustment ensure that you have proper armrest positioning. You also have a range of lockable tilt positions, as well as tension adjustment and independent back angle adjustment.
I like the recline function on the Embody. It is similar to the Herman Miller Aeron. I do not think it is quite as smooth as the Aeron, but it is a close 2nd, in my opinion. It features a synchro-tilt mechanism, so the chair keeps you in a similar position through the entire recline range. The arms come with you, so you are never put into an awkward spot. It feels good to just rock back and forth in the Embody, which is not going to be the case for all high-end ergonomic chairs.
There are three different caster options available on the Embody. The standard casters are 2.5” in diameter and are designed for low to medium pile carpets. These casters are dual wheel and all black. They look nice and they operate nicely.
The second caster option is basically the same as the standard casters, but they also work with hard surfaces. These casters will be a $40 upcharge.
The final caster option will also work for hard surfaces or carpet. They are 2.5” dual wheel but instead of being black, they are translucent. These will cost an additional $60.
There are two upholstery types you can choose from: Rhythm or Balance. They are both grade four, made from 100% polyester, and are tested to 200,000 double rubs. The easiest way to describe a double rub is that it is similar to someone sitting down and getting up from the chair. At 200,000 double rubs, the upholstery on the Embody will last for many years. The Rhythm upholstery is sourced from the USA and features a solid color. The Balance upholstery is sourced from Italy and features a dotted pattern. The Balance will come at a $200 upcharge.
There are a total of 10 colors to choose from on the Embody. This is a pretty limited selection compared to a lot of other brands. If you would like a fancy pattern or leather upholstery, then the Embody is not the best option for you.
You can choose the finish color on the frame and the base. The frame is available in graphite or white. Graphite is black. Going with the white frame will cost an additional $25. The frame includes the seat pan, backrest, mechanism and armrests.
The base is available in three finish options: graphite, titanium and polished aluminum. Graphite is black, titanium is silver and polished aluminum is like a chrome finish. Graphite has a matte finish. Titanium has a bit of shine to it. Polished aluminum is really shiny.
Herman Miller has a genuine focus on the environment. This starts from the manufacturing process and holds true all the way down to the packaging. The Embody chair is made in Holland, MI, where Herman Miller’s Greenhouse manufacturing facility is located. The Embody is made with 100% renewable energy.
The Embody is composed of 44% recycled content and 40% post-consumer content. Up to 95% of the chair is recyclable. The packaging is also made from recycled content and is 95% recyclable.
Herman Miller has also received numerous certifications for material and air quality. Those certifications are: GREENGUARD Certified, GREENGUARD GOLD Certified, BIFMA level™ 3, Global GreenTag (CM) Certified™ Greenrate level A.
What Do I Like?
Made in USA with high end build
The Embody is a high priced product but you get a premium build quality and it is made in the USA. This is a chair where you can really see where your money is going.
Fits wide range of people
The Embody is one of the best options that we have found for a single chair that fits a wide range of people. This is great when making a large purchase for an entire office. It is also useful because the Embody is nice option for a home office, where multiple people may be using the same chair.
Pixels provide unique support
The pixelated support system is one of the most technologically advanced systems we have seen on an office chair. It provides a unique feel and it is one of the main factors that makes the Embody so unique.
Flexible seat and back
Both the seat and back are designed with flexible materials. They do not restrict your movements like other models. Instead, they encourage you to move.
Independent back angle adjustment
I am a big fan of independent back angle adjustment. It really allows you to get the backrest at the optimal angle for you to work comfortably.
Very strong warranty
The Embody comes with an industry leading warranty, which helps to justify its high price point. You know that you are going to have the type of coverage that ensures you will have a chair for the next 12 years, at minimum.
Rated for 24/7 use
The Embody is rated for 24/7 use, which makes it an option for round the clock work environments. The Embody can be a nice option for call centers or dispatch areas that want a high-end ergonomic chair.
Ships fully assembled
Having the Embody arrive to our location fully assembled was awesome to see. This is a complicated chair, so putting it together is probably a bit time consuming. Being able to use the chair right out of the box is not only great for individuals, but also entire offices that don’t want to deal with installations.
What Don’t I Like?
High price point
The biggest downside to the Embody is its high price point. With a starting price just shy of $1400, it is among the highest priced chairs we have tested. While you are getting one of the highest quality chairs, $1400 is simply going to be out of many people’s price range.
No lumbar adjustment
One thing that did surprise me with the Embody is that it did not have any lumbar adjustment. It has a natural curve and the back angle adjustment helps to make the lumbar support a bit more or less pronounced. It would be nice if there was some independent lumbar adjustment with such a high-end ergonomic chair.
No arm pad adjustment
The lack of arm pad adjustment will make it more difficult to always have your arms in the best position. One problem I had was the lack of arm pad depth adjustment didn’t allow me to have my right arm on my elbow, because the arm pad would hit my keyboard tray. Instead, I just lowered the right side out of the way when I was tasking.
Limited upholstery options
The Embody is only available in two upholstery option and a handful of colors. This can be a problem for high-end designers looking for some unique colors or patterns. It is also a problem for people that want an upholstery not offered, like leather.
Pixelated support is not for everyone
The pixelated support is not something that was liked by everyone in our office. Some people said that they could feel the individual pixels more than they would like.
There is a lot going on with the Embody. Herman Miller wanted to create one of the highest end ergonomic chairs on the market and to do that they utilized some unique technology. While I am a big fan of the chair, it does have some flaws that may make people look for alternative options. While you are paying one of the highest prices for an ergonomic chair, you are missing out on lumbar adjustments and arm pad adjustments. You also do not have a huge selection of upholstery options like some other high-end models.
Even with these downsides, I found the Embody to be nice enough to get me out of a chair I have been in for 10 years. The chair is expensive, but it is really good quality and has the backing of a phenomenal warranty. The pixels provide a very unique experience because the chair is not overly soft, but it is still supportive. I like how flexible the chair is because it allows me to easily move, stretch and change positions while I work. I also really like the way the chair feels when you recline because it keeps you in the same position so you can just rock back and forth with ease.
The Embody is not going to be for everyone. Not everyone wants to commit $1300+ to an office chair; however,I do see the value in the chair. I can definitely make the case that the price is fair for what you are getting. It may not have some of the key adjustments you are looking for, but if it checks your boxes, then I would definitely consider the Herman Miller Embody for your next ergonomic office chair.
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