Herman Miller Semi Annual Sale On Its Office Chairs Starts Friday June 1st

What's the deal?
Herman Miller is holding its twice yearly sale starting Friday June 1st when you will be able to get an extra 15% discount off its leading chairs.

As well as the extra discount and free shipping, during the sale some online suppliers are also offering no sales tax and free returns. So you really can try out the product risk free.

How long is the sale on for?
It all starts on Friday June 1st and ends on Monday June 11th so time is limited.

Where can I find more about the best chairs on offer?
The links below will take you to a brief overview of some of the top chairs on offer.

These review summaries also include links to our full review of each chair. And from Friday links to where you can get these great deals.

So if you've been thinking about changing your office chair for something better, be sure to check out the great prices while the sale period is on.

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Branded Office Chairs Part 1: Herman Miller Top 3 – Aeron, Embody And Sayl

Following on from last week's article on the benefits of going for a branded chair, this week we begin a series on specific manufacturer's brands worth looking into.

This week we're taking a look at 3 top sellers from Herman Miller the Aeron, the Embody and the Sayl. Let's begin the Aeron its best known product.

Aeron chair
As office chairs go the Aeron ergonomic chair is getting quite long in the tooth it's been around since 1994.

aeron-office-chair

Aeron Ergonomic Chair

Even so it remains an immensely popular choice and has probably reached classic chair status in the process.

One of its biggest appeals is that it comes in 3 sizes making it possible for people to get a chair closely matched to their body size.

It also started the whole mesh chair revolution and is excellent for anyone who tends to sweat a lot, particularly in hot weather. It mesh seat and back material called the pellicle allows air to circulate more freely.

However, it's not all plain sailing as the absence of padding makes for a firm sitting position which some find challenging. So if you prefer a nicely padded seat you may struggle to adapt to it.

And with the highly adjustable Aeron there are 11 separate adjustments. So if you like to be able to fine tune settings then you will find it can be set it up very precisely to your needs.

Let's move onto a more recent model the Embody.

Embody chair
Miller's Embody is a much newer introduction which first appeared in 2008.

Embody Chair

Embody Chair In Blue Fabric

It's a one size fits all chair and is quite different to the Aeron in appearance and use.

The chair has been produced from scratch and takes advantage of recent developments in plastics and polymers.

When you sit on it it feels like your are floating due to the 4 different components making up the layers of the seat.

The fabric finish is breathable and so is designed to be more user friendly for those who get hot while sitting.

It has a spine like back support designed to move as you move and no hard edges to dig into your body.

Finally there's Herman Miller's latest addition to the range the Sayl.

Sayl chair
This is Miller's most recent addition and launched in 2010.

Sayl Chair

Sayl Chair Side View

As with the Embody it takes advantage of modern materials that simply weren't available a few years ago.

The name is derived from the shape and style of the chair back which looks like a ship's sail, hence the Sayl name.

The open cell polymer back works by providing the right level of support where it's most needed.

Consequently the cells vary in size making sure that it can cope with the different pressures applied by the user's back.

Another great benefit is it costs about 37% less than the Aeron making it much more affordable.

Summary
Let's quickly recap on the what we've covered here:

  • Aeron chairs are still a good choice, and come in 3 sizes
  • Aeron has loads of adjustments to set it just right for you
  • Aeron lacks padding some may find this a problem
  • Embody feels like you're floating and has breathable fabric
  • Embody moves as you move, with no hard edges so doesn't dig into you
  • Sayl provides great back support
  • Sayl is a much more affordable solution

Further information
Here's where you can find full reviews of these 3 Herman Miller chairs:

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Thanksgiving Office Chair Sale Offers From Herman Miller, Steelcase And Humanscale

What deals are available?
Herman Miller, Steelcase & Humanscale are all running Thanksgiving Sale Specials with a chance to grab up to an extra 15% off all their office chairs. Miller and Humanscale are offering a 15% saving with Steelcase giving 10%.

This is a great chance to get a top deal on a wide range of high quality ergonomic office chairs

How long do they last?
Each manufacturer’s sale has slightly different dates.

Herman Miller starts their sale today finishing on Monday 12 December 2011
Steelcase starts Thursday 24 November and runs for 1 week until Wednesday 30 November 2011.
Humanscale’s sale starts on Friday 25 November and ends on Monday 12 December 2011

Where can I find the details?
You can find a quick summary of the key points about some of the best chairs on offer using the links below:

Herman Miller Chairs
Aeron chair
Embody chair
Sayl chair
Mirra chair

Steelcase Chairs
Think chair
Amia chair
Leap chair

Humanscale Chairs
Freedom chair
Liberty Chair
Freedom Saddle Seat

So, if you are ready for a new chair this is an excellent opportunity to lock in a great price. Don't leave it too long because the special pricing will soon be finished.

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What Are The Advantages Of A Mesh Office Chair? Is One Right For You?

Aeron mesh chair

Aeron Mesh Chair - Herman Miller

Imagine it's another red hot July day. You have been sitting at your desk for several hours.

When you go to get up, your body sticks to the office chair through your lightweight summer clothing.

You are sweating, even though the air conditioning is set to a temperature only experienced in the Arctic. How can this be?

The thick upholstery is the culprit. Combined with the foam padding, which acts as insulation, the material is trapping your body heat against your body.

So you sweat. Fortunately there is an answer to the problem.

How did mesh upholstery change the office chair market?
The idea of a mesh office chair really started back in the early 1990s with Herman Miller’s Aeron chair. It took a radically different approach to office chair design and key amongst its new ideas was open mesh upholstery called the pellicle.

The major benefit of this new form of upholstery was that it allowed air circulation around the user’s body and so kept them cool on hot summer days.

This quickly prompted competitors to come up with their own version of mesh upholstery and now wherever you look you see them. Many are designed to be Aeron lookalikes due to its popularity.

Why are mesh chairs so popular?
People like the idea of a chair which allows air to circulate and keep them cool. Also the stylish looks of mesh chairs enhance their appeal too.

It’s these feature that have made Miller’s Aeron one of the most desired office chairs of all time. The problem is that not everyone can afford its $600 price tag.

Consequently when competitors churn out cheaper me too versions it opens up the market for people to experience the benefits of keeping cool at work.

However you have to realize that the upholstery on a $100 mesh chair is a far cry from the quality of the Aeron’s pellicle. Good air circulation is one thing, however without proper support it’s not a good idea.

How do you select a good mesh office chair?
One of the mistakes people make is buying a mesh chair just for its looks. The problem is it’s very easy to make them look sexy and whilst it’s fair to say that any mesh will allow better air circulation that’s of little use if it’s uncomfortable and doesn't give the right support to your body.

A number of manufacturers have invested a lot of time and money to come up with advanced mesh designs which give the correct support and still allow good air circulation.

Humanscale is a good example. Its Liberty and Diffrient World chairs both use a special triple membrane open mesh upholstery. Not only do you get the benefits of keeping cool on hot days you also gain proper support enabling you to work long hours in comfort.

There are some people who may find mesh upholstery is not for them.

When is a mesh chair a bad choice?
People who like a chair with a lot of padding may find the change to mesh difficult. The reason is that it tends to be a much firmer surface to sit on. This is particularly true of the Aeron, its pellicle really is quite firm and takes some getting used to.

Lighter framed people are the most likely to feel discomfort. Because they have less flesh to cushion them, mesh can quickly become uncomfortable to sit in. So if you are light built and find sitting on hard surfaces uncomfortable you could have problems.

One alternative is to consider a seat like Herman Miller’s Embody. Although this isn't a mesh chair it uses a breathable fabric and has a unique method of support. When you sit on it you feel as though you are floating. This removes the harsh pressure found with some meshes while allowing good personal comfort for those who sweat a lot.

Let’s quickly round up the points we've covered:

  • Mesh allows great air circulation to minimize sweating
  • Mesh chairs all began with the Aeron
  • Although cheap mesh chairs abound they often have lousy body support
  • Go beyond just looks; choose a mesh which will support you properly
  • If you like well padded seats mesh may not be for you

Further Information
Here’s where you can find more on mesh chairs like the Aeron, Liberty and Diffrient World as well as alternative solutions like the Embody.

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Why A Good Ergonomic Office Chair Is Like GPS In The Office

Imagine you're on a long drive to a city you’ve never visited before. You're on a tight deadline and you can’t afford to be late or make any wrong turns and you don’t need the pressure of driving against the clock. The natural thing to do of course would be to set up your GPS device before leaving and just relax as it guides you and takes the strain. No need to worry about what to do or where to go because your faithful GPS has it all covered, all you need to do is fuel up and steer your vehicle.

Instead what if you only had a compass to guide you? Even if it was fixed to the dash you would need to keep looking to make sure you were headed in the right direction. And with all the twists and turns in the roads it probably wouldn’t be very practical at all.

A good ergonomic office chair is a bit like GPS for the office
When you have a quality ergonomic chair it helps take the strain of those long days in the office. You have an important project to complete it’s probably the best part of 10 hours work. However the very tight deadline means you have to get it all wrapped up in 8 hours if at all possible.

The last thing you need is to be uncomfortable and constantly moving and shifting as you struggle to relax and concentrate on the task ahead.

With the right chair you're in safe hands because many modern chairs have self-adjusting features. They sense the way you are sitting and provide continuous support to make sure your body maintains a healthy posture throughout the day.

In fact as you become absorbed in the task at hand you'll likely barely notice your chair as you concentrate on getting everything completed.

A bad office chair is more like a compass
If you have a poor quality office chair that tight deadline is going to seem much more like making that road trip with a compass. It’s probably going to be OK for the first half hour, or so. And yet as the day wears on it starts leaving you feeling worn out.

Maybe the foam in the seat and back padding has flattened with continual use and no longer provides good comfort and support. Or the back seems to have a mind of its own, when you recline to relax for a moment.

And if only those arms adjusted, they always seem to get in the way and the hard plastic tops are killing your lower arms.

As the project deadline approaches you become more and more pressured as you begin to get further behind.

What sort of features makes good ergonomic office chairs different?
For a start they are likely to have top quality foams which bounce back to shape even after years of use. And in the case of a chair like Herman Miller’s Embody the 4 ply support suspension makes it feel like you are floating rather than sitting.

A lot of chairs have automatic adjusting recline functions, so as you lean back the chair senses your weight and where you are applying pressure and automatically compensates giving proper back support. A good example of this is HÅG’s Futu chair which even includes some fine tuning if required, however most will find the standard auto adjuster fine.

Adjustable arms can help make the work experience much more enjoyable, especially the more flexible ones which don’t just alter in height. They also adjust in width, angle and front to back as well, making it easy to get perfect arm comfort.

Here's where you can find a quick summary of Herman Miller chairs as well as other quality office chairs from a variety of different manufacturers to help you work long hours without distraction.

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How Technology Is Changing The Humble Office Chair: Crossing Bridges In Thinking

Sayl chair

Herman Miller Sayl Chair

What has San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge got to do with office chair design? More than you might think.

It was the inspiration for designer Yves Béhar when he came up with the concept for the suspension back for Herman Miller’s new Sayl chair, and applied similar principles to its unique back design.

It’s a great example of thinking out of the square.

But first, a little about old style office seat design.

  

How Office Chairs Used To Be Designed

Time was when a chair manufacturer thought about launching a new chair the same set of basic materials was used. In fact for a good number of manufacturers this is still the case.

You started with a 5 star base, added a gas lift, married it to a mechanism and connected it all to a seat pan, back and arms and the end result was a new chair.

Apart from maybe a new type of mechanism the changes were mostly cosmetic. Perhaps you used a sexier looking 5 star base, reshaped the back and seat a bit and maybe used a new range of upholstery to add appeal.

At the end of the day it wasn’t hugely different to what had gone before.

What Started The Change In Office Chair Design?

Probably the launch of the Aeron back in 1994 was what really shook the
market up.

Here was a radically different chair that didn’t have any foam padding and fabric upholstery, instead it had this open mesh known as the pellicle. Not only that it looked distinctly odd.

In fact, it was a major gamble by Herman Miller as initial soundings at the time were pretty negative.

Nonetheless, Miller kept its nerve and introduced it and the rest as they say is history. The Aeron has gone on to become one of the best selling and best known office chairs of all time and still sells well today.

Why This Started Alarm Bells Ringing

The Aeron effect brought about 2 fundamental changes in the office chair market. First, it contributed to the launch of many imitations and as a result mesh upholstered chairs can be found at all levels in the market. Second, it acted as a wake up call for others in the industry showing it was time for a radical rethink on new products if they didn't want to lose ground.

The Quality End Of The Market Has Become The Domain of Big Hitters

Creating chairs the old way wasn’t very difficult and the cash outlay for the most part was affordable.

Not anymore. Creating chairs the new way involves a huge outlay of time and money.
Take for instance the soon to be launched Sayl chair. In a recent article in the UK’s Independent Newspaper about the Sayl it drew attention to the 70 prototypes, 3 years of development and $13 million investment, a sum clearly beyond all but the big boys to invest in producing a single office chair range.

Clearly Miller expects big things and is prepared to take a long-term view. Little wonder quality office chairs cost what they do when you have this kind of outlay to recoup and this will be one of its lower priced chairs.

Chairs Are Being Made With Materials That Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago

These days major manufacturers are prepared to invest heavily in new seating products to come up with what they hope will be a world-beating product.

Top designers are taken on to develop radical new concepts, starting from scratch they come up with fresh ideas and possibilities which they then turn into reality.

Recent examples of these innovative designs include Knoll’s Generation Chair, Humanscale’s Liberty, Steelcase’s Think and a trio from Herman Miller in the Embody, Setu and Sayl.

How Has All This Innovation Helped End Users?

The development of new products like these represents a major improvement in seating comfort for office workers and has helped to:

• Enhance user comfort and give proper support throughout the day
• Simplify product use by automating certain functions
• Significantly reduce product weight making them easier to move and position
• Huge advances in environmentally friendly components and recyclability
• 10 year plus warranty giving confidence in the product’s quality
• Enhance styling and design while still maintaining functionality and ease of use

In a future post I’ll take a look at some of these amazing design ideas and how they have helped improve office sitting comfort.

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Herman Miller Sayl™ Chair – Inspired By Suspension Bridge Design

Herman Miller Sayl chair

Herman Miller Sayl™ Chair

Leading office chair manufacturer Herman Miller best known for its Aeron and Embody chairs is launching another offering in mid-January 2011 with its Sayl™ chair.

The chair is the brainchild of designer Yves Béhar who has cleverly applied the principle of suspension bridge design into the new product.

3D Elastomer Suspension Back
The result is an ingeniously designed back which is frameless, so no nasty hard edges digging into your back. Its back is made up of a framework of 3D open cell elastomer strands where varying thicknesses are used to give good support where most needed yet still allowing freedom of movement for the user.

Basic and Highly Adjustable Models + Extras
As Miller chairs go the Sayl™ is competitively priced starting at $399 in its basic format rising to $599 for the highly adjustable model and both versions carry Herman Miller’s 12 year warranty.

To be fair the basic version is somewhat limited having fixed arms, tilt tension for user weight control and height adjustment, although adjustable can be added as an extra.

To get essential features like sliding seat adjustment for optimum leg comfort and height and swivel adjustable arms you need to look to the highly adjustable version. It’s also possible to add some extra features like forward seat tilt for those doing close up computer work. There is an option to add an adjustable lumbar support too which could be handy for lower back pain sufferers.

Launches Mid-January 2011
You can get further information at Herman Miller’s site on the Sayl™ which is due for launch early New Year and I plan to add a full review of this chair in January. Miller is expecting a lot of interest in its new chair and this site is already taking Sayl™ pre-orders for what is likely to be a popular product.

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How Modern Task Chair Design Leaves Traditional Models in the Dust

Office chair design has improved in leaps and bounds in the past 20 years, and yet there are still a huge amount of task chairs being made today built around the same old technology that existed 30 years ago.

Why is this? A lot of it has to do with the cost of tooling to make new components. It just costs a lot of money to create a new chair from the ground up.

It’s far easier to take what already exists and just tweak its appearance a little, rather like an automobile design where cars get facelifts every couple of years to prolong the life of a model.

Exactly the same thing happens with chairs. The basic guts of the thing, the bits you don’t see, stay the same. However, by reshaping the seat and back and maybe changing the base design, it’s possible to make the old appear new.

Fortunately, some companies are prepared to start with a blank sheet of paper and to do something radically different. Not surprising these tend to be the bigger players in the market who have the necessary resources and have a genuine desire to produce a substantially different and innovative chair.

Typically these manufacturers will do extensive market research into what problems users face and then go about creating a solution.

One of the big trends in recent years has been the launch of much simpler chairs, where the user just adjusts the height and maybe a couple of other things.

The chair has an inbuilt ability to anticipate what the user is doing by sensing their body movements as it self-adjusts and supports the user comfortably during the working day.

This is largely a good thing, as the majority of people don’t want to fiddle with loads of levers and buttons. Examples of these types of chairs include the HÅG Futu, Knoll’s Generation, and HumanScale’s Freedom and Liberty chairs.

Other manufacturers like Herman Miller and Steelcase prefer to create new models based on new technology and yet still let the user have lots of control over the settings.

Modern products like the Embody from Herman Miller, and the Think and Leap from Steelcase allow more user adjustment.

The one big downside with all of these new innovations comes down to cost. All that expensive design and tooling has to be paid for and as a result, chairs like these tend to start around the $500 mark.

This is why old, outdated seat design continues to be commonplace. Most of the components used in old-style seating can simply be bought off the shelf from component manufacturers who are geared up to turn out the various mechanisms and parts cheaply and quickly.

This results in a gulf in prices between old style models and newer ground breaking chairs, and once you try out one of these new breed of chairs and discover how superior they are, you will truly understand why they leave the same-old, same-old in the dust.

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Is Your Office Chair Like Being Jammed In A Dodgem Car?

Although most manufacturers tend to make their chairs with generous sized seats, if you are very tall and or well built you may find your chair is cramped in the length or width leaving you feeling wedged into it.

This makes it very difficult to get comfortable as it restricts your movements and so consequently you can end up sitting in a very rigid way which is bad news for your posture and muscles.

Fortunately, the answer is pretty simple to fix because just as certain manufacturers realized the need to make below average seat sizes for petite users, a number also produce larger than average sizes.

Frequently these are referred to as Big and Tall chairs which is a good thing as it alerts potential buyers who they are best suited for.

A word of caution though, just because a chair is referred to as big and tall by no means makes it a good chair, it's just a name with no guaranteed level of quality.

Here are some ideas for quality built big and tall chairs from specialist manufacturers.

First, Neutral Posture really understands the sort of chair needed by well built and or tall users and its NP6000 and NP8000 ranges are well worth a look. You could also consider an Aeron it comes in 3 sizes and likely a size C will be best, you can check here on the size chart, the new Embody is another potential answer. BodyBilt is yet another manufacturer to check out

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Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 3 Herman Miller

For day 3 of replace the office chair turkey it's time to call on the other office seating giant Herman Miller which has the distinction of producing what has become the best known chair brand in the world, the Aeron®.

Since launch in 1994 the chair has been hugely successful and features on many peoples' wish list of their ideal chair.

It is a great chair for those preferring a firm seating position and like the idea of good air circulation on those hot summer days.

Miller actually has many models in its different ranges and one which has been creating quite a buzz is the Embody, launched a year ago and already proving highly popular with office workers and some users report it feels like they are floating when sitting in it.

You can read more about these 2 highly popular models in these reviews.

 

Tomorrow I'll be looking at Neutral Posture which has quietly built an enviable reputation for producing some excellent office seating solutions over the past 20 years.

Links to earlier articles in this series
Gobble Up The Office Chair Turkey This Thanksgiving
Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 1 HÅG Seating
Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 2 Steelcase

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