Ode To A Chair

I spend a lot of time in my office chair (and in an airplane seat, but that’s a story for another time).  For a great many years, I really didn’t think too hard about the throne that was supporting my body as I sat and typed for upwards of 10 hours a day.  I would simply go down to Staples, Bureau en Gros, or whatever office supply store was having a sale, and pick up something plush, and usually leather-covered, thinking that if it looked good and felt comfortable during a five-minute sit in the store then it must be what I needed to see me through my daily work.

Needless to say, after going through a number of chairs that were either numbing my body, hurting my back, or simply not up to the strain of daily extended use, I began to ask myself why I was blowing $200 to $300 on chairs that were only lasting me a year, at most.  I started to wonder if maybe there wasn’t some validity to the world of high-end office furniture that had been so thoroughly lampooned during the dotcom heyday where it seemed everyone was perched in an Aeron chair – even the guard at the front desk.

It turns out that my ignorance was just that – ignorance.  A trip to a local Herman Miller showroom began innocuously enough with some seat time in an Aeron, which I immediately recognized as being superior to any other chair I had used in my own office.  I then moved over to a mid-range Mirra model, which was also quite comfortable but a little too plasticky for my tastes.  It looked like I was going invest in an Aeron and walk out of that store a happy man, when I asked the salesperson one final question: were there any more chairs that they would care to recommend?

The gentleman looked at me for a second, and then answered with, ‘Yes, there’s one more – but I have to warn you.  If you sit in this chair, it will ruin you for all other chairs.’

He then asked me if I was sure I wanted to try it out.  Thinking this was just more sales-oriented hyperbole designed to move product, I responded in the affirmative.  And that’s how I went home with a Herman Miller Embody chair.

Because the salesperson wasn’t exaggerating.  The Embody was, and still is, by far the most comfortable office chair I have ever had the pleasure of using.  It’s got an articulated spine that moves each part of the backrest in conjunction with my own body, fully-breathable fabric, and incredible adjustability.  I am now completely incapable of using any other office chair without pining for my Embody within the first few minutes of sitting down.

Yes, the chair was expensive – and at four figures for the model I chose, the priciest piece of furniture I had purchased for my office up to that time.  When you buy a Herman Miller chair, however, you aren’t just buying a name.  You also get an eight year warranty, one that I have used twice now after my rambunctious cat decided he was going to chew through the arms of my chair to punish me for traveling without him.  Herman Miller was all too happy to send someone to my home and replace the arm pads free of charge.

When you add that to the money I have saved by not replacing my office chair every year or so, it’s clear that the Embody was not just the best decision I could have made in terms of comfort, but the most economical choice as well.  Writers take note – this chair is one of the best investments you can make for improving your productivity and preserving your sanity in front of your word processor of choice.

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