I'm a bit of a snob. I don't just like nice things, I like the best things. That's not to say I spend extravagantly or throw my money around, it's just that when presented with buying a good product or saving my money a little longer and buying a better constructed, great product, I'll usually pick the great product. It's why I bought an iPad rather than a Kindle Fire, it's why I shop at Seven rather than Gap, and it's why I use proper noise-canceling headphones rather than Apple earbuds. My point is that I generally take my time to suss out and spend my money on quality products that last.
So, four years ago, when it came time to buy a new office chair, I knew I had to do my research. I spend eight to sixteen hours a day in front of my Mac and my body starts to ache near the end no matter how many breaks I take. Over the years I've used everything from an art stool, to a $150 Office Depot chair, to whatever IKEA happened to be selling that month. I even picked up a $600 task chair from Relax The Back. They were all crap. The back support was non-existent. The seat cushion grew flat over time. And, in almost every case, the chair would wobble and lose height throughout the day. I knew there had to be something better available.
Honestly, I'm writing this review four years too late. Back in the Summer of 2010, while I was working full-time from home, I really did my research. I read countless reviews, inspected warranties, participated in online groups, and bought and returned a few models. The one chair that kept getting the highest marks, and, coincidentally, the only one I could never find in a store to try sitting in, was Herman Miller's Embody series.
They don't come cheap, running anywhere from $1,100 to $1,600 depending on the model, but after much back and forth, I finally placed an order for one sight-unseen.
I couldn't be happier.
It has by far the best back support of any chair I've used. The back of the chair extends up to shoulder height and is modeled after the human spine. You can lean back into it and the material will move and bend with you as your turn or arch your back. The arms are made of squishy plastic that support your elbows without digging in. The seat cushion and the back are made of a mesh material that breathes and stays cool even after hours of use. And, best of all, the base is extremely sturdy. It doesn't wobble. And it doesn't lose height after extended use.
My only complaint is that it's very noisy. Nearly every movement of your body causes some piece of the chair to groan. I've never for a moment thought the chair was falling apart or anything - nothing feels cheaply made - it's just a side effect of how the base and back are constructed. They simply make noise as you move. It's annoying at first, but not a deal breaker.
The chair also comes with a twelve year warranty. In the past I've had to replace cheap office store chairs every eighteen months or so. At $200 a pop, the Embody's $1,100 up front price tag isn't too far out of line if it lasts the full 10+ years.
Anyway, I've been using the chair in my home office for going on four years now and love it. So much so, that I bought a second one I bring with me any time I get an office job.
Money well spent.