Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody – Which One Is Better?

by: Scott Pierce (founder, blogger & ergonomic consultant)

Herman Miller Aeron vs Herman Miller Embody

The Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody is a debate that won’t end anytime soon. These are premium ergonomics with pretty much all the versatilities that one would ask for in a great chair. Both of them also have a solid backing in terms of positive reviews from thousands of happy users.

So, here’s the million-dollar question: What is the best Herman Miller chair between Embody and Aeron?

Well, it’s a challenge to pick either of these and crown it as the best. So, what I’ll do is to take you through the features, design and functionalities of each chair, and then let you decide what works for you.

Let’s get this Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody comparison started!

Herman Miller Aeron Review

The Herman Aeron is one of the most popular ergonomic chairs today. This chair was first launched in 1994, and it became an instant hit. Perhaps what might surprise you is that the original Aeron remained a status symbol for 12 good years without receiving a single update on its design. That should tell you something about the level of quality that goes into these chairs.

Herman Miller Aeron with PostureFit SL
Herman Miller Aeron Chair

The model that I’m reviewing here and probably what you are going to get if you buy this chair is the Aeron Remastered of 2016.  

So, what makes Aeron the best Herman Miller chair? First things first, this model comes in 3 sizes:

  • Size A – this is the smallest of the 3 chairs. It’s most comfortable petite people with a height of 5’4″ and below, and who weigh less than 150 lbs.
  • Size B – this is a mid-size office chair. The sweet spot is: 150-230 lbs and height of between 5’5″ and 6’2″.
  • Size C – this is the biggest of the 3 chairs, and it’s meant for individuals who weigh 230-350 lbs and have a height of 6’2″ – 6’6″.

Compare Prices Of Herman Miller Aeron A, B & C On Amazon 

Whichever model that you opt to go with, there’s an option to get this chair in its most basic form or with some upgrades. Of course the standard version is most inexpensive one. However, you’ll get a chair with a basic back support (non-adjustable lumbar support), stationary arms, standard tilt and standard arm pads.

If you have a flexible budget, I’d highly recommend you to throw in a few facelifts on your chair, including adjustable armrests, a tilt limiter with forward tilt, and a backrest called PostureFit SL with adjustable lumbar support (you can change its height and depth). These are fundamental features that prevent slouching. You could also go for hard floor casters and leather arm pads, if these features are important to you.

Herman Miller Aeron PostureFit SL back
This is the PostureFit SL back – the backrest is not only S-shaped, but allows you to adjust lumbar support height and depth (firmness) as well

Also, there is an option to get your chair in a few color settings. Although colors have nothing to do with the comfort level of the chair, they tend to blend in well in most modern office designs.

Away with the upgrades, the Aeron features a sturdy metallic frame all around. But perhaps what makes it the best Herman Miller office chair to buy today is the mesh that it uses for its seat and back upholstery. This is a tightly woven membrane with an incredible balance of firmness and give for optimum support and comfort.

The biggest pro of this mesh is how it cradles you while allowing maximum air circulation. So, if you tend to sweat a lot, this feature alone might make Aeron the best office chair for your needs.

PostureFit SL backrest - Herman Miller
In this picture you can see the PostureFit SL back, as well as the suspension woven fabric that Aeron seat is made of

Another great feature of the Herman Miller Aeron is the nicely contoured fall that aims at improving blood flow and oxygen circulation. The top of the backrest also contours outside. This ensures that your shoulders and back remain in a healthy posture.

I should also mention the S-shaped lumbar support of this chair. This is an indispensable feature that comes in handy in maintaining your spine’s natural s-shape when seated.

Herman Miller Embody Review

The Embody is a trendy office chair, too. Actually, in most reviews of the best Herman Miller office chairs, the Embody tends to appear first and then the Aeron.

Now, the Embody is sold in only one size that is meant to fit all. On this note, I have to admit that the Embody is super accommodative.

Herman Miller Embody
Herman Miller Embody

The first aspect that gives this model the upper hand in any Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody debate is that it comes almost fully loaded with most of the functions, including 2D adjustable arms and fully adjustable backrest. However, there’s also an option to upgrade the casters by getting hard floor casters or translucent casters. You can also choose one of many upholstery fabric, some of them are a bit cheaper.

One thing that is easy to notice with the Embody is that it has no hard frame edges both on the seat and the back support. This feature, coupled with the large seat, makes the Embody a chair that most people can use without experiencing pressure points.

What I find even more interesting, though, is the option to adjust the seat depth to fit your profile perfectly.

This chair’s seat and back have what the manufacturer calls the pixelated support. Let not the terminology confuse you. This is just a fancy way of saying that the seat and back are designed to conform to your body shape.

The seat is made up of 4 support layers. According to Herman Miller, each of these layers has its distinct properties. However, they all work together to conform to your shape and to give you a sense of floating. I can only tell you that the seat feels both soft and supportive and does not get hot.

The back of the Herman Miller Embody is where all the magic happens, though. This back is super flexible and has pixels that align with the natural curve of your spine to maintain a neutral, balanced posture. Interestingly, the backrest adjust automatically as you move within the chair to ensure constant support.

Herman Miller Embody - backrest BackFit
Herman Miller Embody has very unique backrest that has skeletal design – it follows user’s movements and adjusts to his body

The back is covered by the same upholstery that is used on the seat so you won’t feel them directly. Speaking of upholstery, you can get your Embody chair with different types of fabric. Each is made of 100% polyester and has excellent durability. However, some fabrics and colors will get your chair much pricier.

Visit Amazon To See Available Colors & Compare Prices

Regarding adjustability, you can set how far the backrest leans from pretty far to an upright position and how easy it is to lean back. This seat also comes with the standard height adjustment feature that will enable you to set how low or high from the ground you want to sit.

However, the best adjustment is the backrest curviness – you can make it more flat or rounded so it could align with your spine natural curves.

The basic version of Herman Miller Embody allows you to adjust the seat depth, backrest curviness, recline, and armrest height and width
The basic version of Herman Miller Embody allows you to adjust the backrest curviness – you can make it more flat or rounded, depending on your body shape and preferences

Last thing – the armrests. I like that they can move up and down and even inwards and outwards to accommodate petite and more chubby individuals.

The only small complaint that I have about them is that they don’t move forward and backward. This might be a problem if you have a lower desk that won’t allow the Embody to go under.

Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody – Similarities

Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody - Comparison

Built for excellent ergonomic support

This is yet another aspect that intensifies the Herman Miller Embody vs Aeron debate. While they use different technologies, these two chairs are among the best in maintaining a healthy sitting posture. The exoskeleton back of the Embody, for instance, ensure constant support even when you’re leaning forward or reclining backward.

On the other hand, when complemented with the PostureFit SL, the s-shaped lumbar support of the Aeron ensures that you never lack support. Also, I like Embody’s and Aeron’s contoured seat edge. These two chairs provide adequate support without cutting the circulation of blood.

Top quality

Whether you’ll end up going for Embody or Aeron, you can be sure you’ll get top quality chair made of finest materials. Lots of previous buyers raves about Herman Miller chairs quality and durability. Some users have been using their chair for 10 years and it’s still giving them excellent support.

Industry-leading Return Policy and Warranty

Each of these chairs come with a 30-day trial period. This window allows you to try the chair at home for a full month and decide whether to keep it or not. If it doesn’t work for you, just contact Herman Miller, and you’ll get a full refund with no restocking fees or shipping charges.

What I find even more appealing is that both of these seats come with an unbeatable warranty of 12 years that covers all parts. Most run-of-the-mill office chairs never come any close to this.

Visit Herman Miller website to read more about term and conditions that may apply to this.

Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody – Differences

Customization / Ergonomic Adjustments

Of course, there’s no way we can compare Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody without touching on their ergonomic adjustments. In addition to height, seat depth, and armrests adjustment, the Embody also ships standard with tension control and 4 lockable tilt positions.

On the other hand, if you are going with the basic Aeron version, you’ll be treated to a chair with tilt and tension controls only in addition to the standard chair height adjustments. Fortunately, there’s an option to add a tilt limiter that adds 3 lockable tilt positions plus a forward tilt option, adjustable lumbar support and adjustable armrests. You just need more flexible budget for it!

But what’s important the most advanced and fully adjustable version of Herman Miller Aeron is still cheaper than the Herman Miller Embody! If you’re on a smaller budget but want to have Herman Miller chair, you can always go for the most basic version of Aeron – it’s still a fantastic supportive chair!

Back support

Both of these chairs do a great job in this department, although there are several possible sources of complaints on either chair.
To begin with, I really value the tall back support of the Embody. I believe this is going to offer full back support for most people, especially considering the way its pixelating technology works. Moreover even the basic version of Embody comes with adjustable backrest which allows you to change its curviness.

Herman Miller Embody has unique backrest
All models of Herman Miller Embody have adjustable backrest – you can change its curviness

On the other hand, the back rest of the Herman Miller Aeron is slightly shorter but much wider. This support is very breathable and comfortable since the membrane contours to your body shape. But keep in mind that, in contrast to Embody, the basic version of Aeron comes with stationary lumbar support and non-adjustable backrest. You need to pay extra for the adjustable lower back support or PostureFit SL backrest (which is the best option). The basic Aeron comes with fixed S-shaped backrest which provides good back support, but you can’t adjust it to your spine curves.

Herman Miller Aeron with basic back
Herman Miller Aeron allows you to choose 1 of 3 different back types. In this picture you can see the basic back. The lower part is rounded (to give you lumbar support), but it’s non-adjustable. If you decide to pay a bit extra you can upgrade the backrest and get the one with height-adjustable lumbar support. You can also choose even more expensive PostureFit SL backrest that has height- and depth-adjustable lumbar support

Armrests 

Another essential consideration in this Herman Miller Aeron vs Embody comparison is the type of armrests that you get with each seat.

The Embody comes already fitted with adjustable armrests right out of the box. You can adjust these armrests up and down, and inwards and outwards, which is really good in getting personalized comfort. There is one issue, though. The armrests of the Embody don’t have front-back adjustment. What’s more, there’s no option to upgrade the armrests on the Embody, at least not for now.

Switching gear to the Aeron, the basic version of this chair comes with stationary armrests. However, you can have these basic armrests upgraded into 3D adjustable armrests if you decide to pay extra.

Size and User compatibility

One of the key differences between these chairs is that while the Aeron is available in 3 sizes, the Embody comes in only one size. This can be either a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it.

Starting with the Aeron, the 3 sizes make it possible to get a chair that is going to fit your body profile, and seat needs perfectly. However, if the chair will be used by a number of people with different builds, one size may not fit all. Keep in mind that you can’t adjust the seat depth or arm width of the Aeron, even if you purchase the most advanced (and most expensive) version.

On the other hand, the Embody comes in one size and is designed to fit different people, hence the adjustable seat depth. You can also adjust its arms height and width for a perfect fit.

Now, if you rarely share the chair with another person, I bet the Aeron may suit you. Choose the size accordingly to your height and body shape (A is for short and skinny user, B is for an average in height person, C is for tall and/or chubby guy). However, if you are not exactly sure what size to get and if several people will use the chair, the Embody may be a better choice.

Overall seat comfort

Both of these chairs use different technologies for the seat, and they seem to work just as intended. It’s easy to think that the woven membrane of the Herman Miller Aeron does make it firm in an uncomfortable way.

However, while it’s true that this seat has a notable firmness to it, it is flexible and contours to your body to create a feeling of floating in the air. Importantly, this mesh means that heat retention will never be an issue for you.

The only issue that I have against the Aeron on this aspect is its metallic bolsters (wings). Although these are meant to hold you comfortably within the sitting surface, some people may find it inconveniencing if it keeps rubbing against their thighs and hips.

Herman Miller Aeron seat has high wings on both sides which may be less comfortable for people with wide hips and thighs
Herman Miller Aeron seat has high wings on both sides which may rub your thighs is you have very wide hips. On the other hand the seat has awesome waterfall edge that doesn’t put any pressure on the back of your legs

If you’re anything like me and prefer the feeling of sinking into a padding, the Embody has it. This chair’s 4-layer seat is breathable, flexible, and also has a good amount of support. However, I believe users on the lower side of the weight spectrum may find the seat padding a bit too stiff.

Which One Is Better: Herman Miller Embody vs. Aeron – My Verdict

So, which is the best Herman Miller office chair between Aeron and Embody? I would say this boils down to what you want. Both of these are great chairs. Otherwise, they’d not be so popular in reviews of the best office chairs in 2020.

Overall, I like that the Herman Miller Embody comes in one size and has many adjustments. This means that it can be used by different people with ease.

But keep in mind that if you are short, this chair may feel less comfortable for you. And again, the most basic version of Embody is pricier than the the most advanced version of Aeron!

On the other hand, you can go for the Herman Miller Aeron and get the upgrades that you really need (and that you can afford). If you’ve been dreaming about Herman Miller Aeron Chair but don’t want to spend a fortune on an office chair, stick to the basic version of Aeron.

If you have more flexible budget add the PostureFit SL backrest and adjustable armrest to your Aeron. It will still be less expensive than Embody! Only remember to be sure you’re getting the right size.

No matter if you choose Herman Miller Aeron or Embody, these are the chairs that could last upwards of 10 years. And you’ll finally forget about the back pain.

I’m aware that Herman Miller Aeron and Embody are one of the most expensive office chairs on the market. That’s why it’s good to check different online stores to find the best offer, as well as read customer reviews. I recommend you to check these chairs for example on Amazon: you can see here all 3 sizes of Herman Miller Aeron, and here is the Embody chair available in multiple color versions. 

However, if you can’t afford none of these chairs after all, I recommend you reading our article about fantastic & inexpensive Herman Miller alternatives! There you’ll find an office chair that suits smaller budget.

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