The Herman Miller Embody is an ergonomic office chair designed for maximum comfort.
In the world we live in, it is common for us to be sitting down for the vast majority of our day whether on a chair, couch or bench. Our bodies were not designed to withstand extended periods in such a stagnant position thus resulting in many health issues related to this occurrence. These can range from back pain to poor posture, soreness, cramps, stretch marks, weight gain, and even a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.
Luckily, there are several ways to combat these issues to keep yourself healthier and more comfortable while in the workplace. The most common way is to invest in a quality office chair that focuses on better ergonomics to better suit your body positioning while in the seated position for extended periods.
Back in 2013, I had been logging in some serious hours at my computer building this website and quickly found the time spent in the sitting position was taking a toll on my body. My legs and butt would ache from the soreness, and my posture was declining at a steady pace. After searching the web for a solution to this issue, I decided it was time for me to invest in a Herman Miller chair. The model that I was most interested in was the Herman Miller Embody.
Like most readers, I was initially skeptical to spend such a significant amount of money on an office chair. I then ran the numbers and determined it would only cost me $102.42 per year ($1229 divided by the 12-year warranty) to reap the benefits of increased comfort and ergonomics while at my work desk. Realistically, this is a small price to pay for this type of luxury, so I bit the bullet and went through with my purchase.
In this review, I'll be giving my experience using a Herman Miller Embody Chair on a daily basis a period of just over two years. Rest assured, this is not an endorsed review from Herman Miller. I paid full price for my review sample at my time of purchase. All opinions expressed in this article are from hands-on use with the product and no outside sources influenced or held bias on the outcome of this review.
My Herman Miller Embody Evaluation Unit
- Rhythm Black Upholstery
- Graphite Frame
- Fully Adjustable Arms (Graphite)
- Standard Carpet Casters
- Graphite Base Finish
Total Purchase Price: $1,229
Design & Build Quality
Herman Miller is notorious for their unique furniture designs, and the Embody is no exception. From first glance, some might be offset by the futuristic form-factor of the Embody, but it immediately drew me in. It has helped give my office space the extra “spunk” that it needed to be set it apart from a standard bland workstation.
The base is similar to most office chairs with a five-spoke design comprised of a durable Graphite. In turn, it is rather heavy thus providing extra support and stability when seated. A telescoping stem rises from the base attaching to the seat and is surprisingly thin yet stable.
If you're on a tight budget, the standard model comes without arms although I'd highly recommend dishing out the extra $100 for the adjustable arms. They are of a lesser quality than the rest of the chair with a cheaper, plasticity feel to them yet they are comfortable and highly adjustable to fit your specific needs.
Mine have shown some slight wear and tear over time, but this is expected after two years of everyday use. My guess is that Herman Miller would replace them should they deteriorate in a more dramatic fashion although I do not anticipate this happening anytime soon.
Moving to the actual seat itself, this is where the Embody stands out of the rest. On the back of the chair, you'll notice a large piece of Graphite that functions much like a human spine and offers a rigid “backbone” structure to the chair.
Attached to this “spine” is an array of small flexible components which are connected to both the back and seat to allow for extensive comfort and flexibility. In the same fashion, these act as the vertebrae giving the chair the ability to adjust and conform to your body to ensure the most comfortable seating position at all times.
A mesh fabric is threaded above the seat giving it a soft-touch that is smooth, airy and comfortable to sit on for an extended period, even with the material directly exposed to your skin. The mesh is relatively durable though, like the armrests, it shows some slight wear over time and attracts dirt, dust, and pet hair quite easily.
The Embody's main feature is its ability to offer an ergonomic seat that will mold to virtually any body type as well as the advanced adjustment controls to cater to every user's desired arrangement.
Its unique design offers a rigid structure for stability yet harnesses comfortable, flexible components where you sit. Pressure has been relieved from your legs and buttocks thus keeping you free from pain or soreness even if when sitting for extended periods.
The Herman Miller Embody has five main elements that offer the ability to adjust:
- Pneumatic lift – as found in most office chairs, this allows the adjustment of the height of the chair
- Tilt limiter – depending on your needs, you can set a limit on the amount of tilt that the Embody offers. Some like it stiff and some like the ability to lean back and relax.
- Tilt tension adjustment – unlike the tilt limiter, this component allows you to adjust the amount of tension that it takes to reach the restraints set by the tilt limiter.
- Armrests – your standard office chair offers armrests that are stationary and function in a “one size fits all” approach. In this case, you can adjust the height of the armrests as well as their proximity to the seat itself within a 6-inch range. This allows the armrests to properly fit a smaller, petite female just as well as a tall, over-sized male.
- Seat adjustment – you can extend the depth of the seat from 15″ to 18″ to better suit those with longer legs.
My chair has the standard carpet casters which come your purchase at no extra charge. You do have the option to swap these out to Deep Carpet, Translucent, or Hard Floor versions at an additional cost.
By default, any Embody purchased new from a certified re-seller will come with a 12-year Herman Miller warranty. According to their website, this covers the following:
“Our 12-year warranty covers everything–including electrical components, casters, pneumatic cylinders, tilts, and all moving mechanisms.
The Herman Miller Warranty is a statement of our confidence in the quality of our products. It's a straightforward promise to our customers that we stand behind that quality, 100 percent–100 percent of the time.”
Before receiving my Herman Miller Embody, my old $100 office chair from Staples just wasn't able to keep me comfortable. Sitting for extended periods of time resulted in pain and soreness in my back, buttocks, and thighs. I ultimately found my posture getting worse and my level of comfort while at my workstation was so low that it resulted in procrastination and a decrease in productivity.
Before buying the Embody, I had borrowed a friend's Herman Miller Aeron model. While it was a vast improvement, it still didn't give me the comfort that I was looking for at the premium price-point. Unlike the Embody, the Aeron is not able to conform to your body nearly as well since the mesh design is somewhat limiting when to comes to adapting to changes in your body position.
Sitting in the Embody felt very different than what I was used to at first, but I quickly got accustomed to it after making some adjustments. The chair is very user-friendly, and adjustments can be made on the fly. No tools are required, so you just need to flip, twist, or push the adjustable components to dial in your desired setting.
Now that I am used to relying on the Herman Miller Embody for my daily work routine, I cannot imagine working without it. I have no more pain or fatigue due to prolonged sitting and the closest way to describe it is that it feels like I am sitting on air. No matter my positioning, the design offers ample support without any unnecessary pressure that would be able to cause discomfort.
My only real complaint with the Embody is that I feel like its maximum height of 20.6″ is still rather low. I would have appreciated a few more inches for use with a higher desk although this is not possible, at least with its current design. Not a huge issue as it'll be adequate for most conventional workstations, but a small con worth mentioning for the select few that have a higher than normal desk height.
When it comes down to it, Herman Miller's Embody chair is a classic example of “you get what you pay for.” While it yields a dramatically high price that won't fit some consumers' budgets, it offers a superior level of comfort, adjustability, and longevity thanks to its 12-year warranty.
If you are serious about improving your workstation (or even to use as a premium gaming chair) and making an investment towards your long-term health and comfort than buying an Embody is a no-brainer. It has been one of the most satisfying purchases that I have made in the past five years and one that I will continue to reap the benefits from for many years to come.
While we recommend Office Designs as the best resource for buying this chair model yet it is worth mentioning that FoundersCard members receive up to 15% off the Herman Miller's official online store along with a dedicated sales contact.
Have your own experience using the Herman Miller Embody? Share your thoughts in the comments below.