This is one of the biggest questions we get from readers. If they are going to get a Herman Miller office chair, should it be the Herman Miller Aeron VS Embody? We’re going to analyze each chair and give you a sense of who should consider each of these chairs based on ergonomics, features, and price.
In the battle of the Herman Miller office chair it is really a case of nitpicking more than anything. Each of these chairs is an absolute champ and both are consistently rated in the top four chairs for a reason. Ultimately the choice comes down to your specific application (office work vs gaming for example) as well as budget.
The Herman Miller Aeron is a tried and true design that comes in 3 different sizes. The Embody features a more advanced back adjustment system that fits any user since the chair comes in one size only. For those users that prefer a more typical fabric seat, the Embody is the right choice as it foregoes the mesh Pellicle 8Z of the Aeron. The fabric on the Embody is also incredibly customizable, coming in at least 42 different colors, whereas the Aeron is more limited in customizability. Both chairs come with Herman Miller’s excellent 12-year warranty and have some of the best resale value on the market. Ultimately, the decision may come down to price, as the Embody will generally cost you a couple hundred dollars more than the Aeron.
If we had to choose between the Aeron and the Embody with a gun to our head we would choose the Embody (again, if budget was no consideration). The very fact that the Embody is a little more adjustable and can fit many different family members’ body sizes make the Embody an amazing pick.
Best office chair: Herman Miller Embody
A more versatile solution that will fit many users with amazing ergonomic features. If budget is truly no consideration, the Herman Miller Embody is an absolutely amazing chair that arguably bests the Aeron in terms of adjustability.
Save a few bucks: Herman Miller Aeron
Top of the line comfort and amazing value. The Herman Miller Aeron is likely the best office chair for most people due to its unparalleled ergonomics, bomb-proof build quality, and great value for money. There’s a reason why the Aeron is talked about so much.
Specifications: Herman Miller Aeron VS Embody
|Herman Miller Aeron||Herman Miller Embody|
|Height||41″ (size B)||42-45”|
|Seat height||16-20.5″ (size B)||16–20.5”|
|Width||27″ (size B)||29.5”|
|Depth||16.75″ (size B)||26.5”|
|Seat depth||16.75″ (size B)||15-18”|
|Weight||41 lb (size B)||51 lb|
|Maximum weight||350 lb||300 lb|
|Seat material||Pellicle 8Z mesh||Fabric/upholstery|
|Head rest available||Yes (modular)||Yes (part of back)|
|Size(s)||A, B, C||One size|
|Lumbar support||Normal, PostureFit SL||Yes, Backfit|
|Adjustable seat depth||No||Yes|
|Back height adjustment||No||Yes|
|Arm rest height adjustment||Yes||Yes|
|Arm pivot adjustment||Yes||Yes|
|Arm width adjustment||No||Yes|
|Recline back stop||Yes||Yes|
|Recline tension adjustment||Yes||Yes|
|Forward seat tilt||Yes||No|
|Casters available||Normal, carpet||Normal, carpet|
|Warranty||12 years||12 years|
|Environmental rating(s)||Level 3 ANSI/BIFMA||Level 3 ANSI/BIFMA|
The Herman Miller Embody comes in one size only. This is because it has extensive customization options, including adjustable seat depth. This one size fits all approach is only possible because of the unique Backfit system which adapts to your movement and back shape. We would argue that this is one of, if not the best, office chair back adjustment systems on the market.
The Herman Miller Aeron on the other hand comes in three different sizes in order to properly fit the user. Size B tends to be the most appropriate size for most users and can allow for multi-users. We outline exactly how to choose the correct Aeron for your body size in this article.
Weight & weight capacity
The Herman Miller Aeron can handle 50 pounds more than the Embody at 350 lb. This could be a consideration if you are approaching these numbers. In terms of the weight of the actual chair, the Embody is actually 10 pounds heavier at 51 lb.
The frames on both the Aeron and the Embody are made out of very similar aluminum. But when you look at the chairs they are completely different looking in terms of design. The Aeron’s back is made of a rubbery Pellicle 8Z mesh that has become iconic in the office chair industry. The Embody, on the other hand, features a very unique back design that Herman Miller calls their “pixelated support.” This is essentially a series of plastic supports that react independently when you sit down. The result is the feeling of almost weightlessness which is really quite pleasant.
The actual finish on the chair back of the Embody is a more typical fabric design that some users prefer over the pellicle of the Aeron. The fabric of the Embody also lends itself to more customization as you will see in the next section.
The Herman Miller Aeron comes in 4 different color combinations that are failry typical:
- Graphite frame / graphite base
- Mineral (grey) frame / polished aluminum base
- Mineral (grey) frame / satin aluminum base
- Graphite frame / polished aluminum base
The Herman Miller Embody is much more customizable when you buy through dealers such as Office Designs (surprisingly they actually have more color combinations than the official Herman Miller website). In fact, there are around 42 different colors for the upholstery on the Embody!
For the Embody’s frame, there are 4 combos:
- White / Titanium
- Graphite / Titanium
- Graphite / Graphite (all black)
- White / Graphite
Both the Aeron and Embody also come in a limited edition X Logitech gaming editions which feature a very nice black aesthetic with upgraded seat foam. Just be ready to shell out some cash for these limited-edition versions.
This is the real reason why you are considering either of these chairs right? The ergonomics!
The Aeron comes in two main flavors. One with just simple back support via a rubber slider that fits in the back of the chair. Or you can upgrade to the Aeron PostureFit SL back support which is quite a bit more advanced and provides lumbar and sacral spine support which can be adjusted separately. If you’re considering the Aeron, we highly recommend opting for the latter.
The Herman Miller Embody is a completely different beast. This chair features PostureFit spinal support directly into the chair’s back itself. Essentially the back is broken up into several “pixels” that can adjust independently to support different segments of the spine. Combine this with the Embody’s BackFit adjustment knob, and you have probably the most advanced back support system on the market. And, to be honest, it looks awesome too. Herman Miller has decided to show off the unique look of this system on the actual outside of the chair.
Back height adjustment
The Aeron does not have a back height adjustment at all. In fact, height is probably one of its only weakness since the chair is designed to sit low. You can buy a separate headrest if you prefer.
The Embody is simply a taller chair to start out, providing built-in neck support. On top of that, the chair offers real back height adjustment as well, showcasing just how customizable the Embody really is. This is why this chair can get away with being offered in only one size. If this is going to be a multi-user chair, then go with the Embody.
Seat depth adjustment
This is a similar story. The Embody features proper seat depth adjustment so you can tune the chair to your specific femur length and body type. The Aeron simply does not offer a seat depth adjustment. The one area where the Aeron sometimes gets complaints is how the plastic at the edge of the seat can sometimes dig into the back of thighs.
Both the Embody and the top end Aeron have fully adjustable arms that can move up and down as well as side to side and in and out. However, the entry-level Aeron only comes with basic height adjustable arms. The fully adjustable arms are a must if you ask us. So factor in this upgrade when you are comparing the price of the Embody vs Aeron.
In the wheel category, these chairs are equals. Both offer a standard set of casters (that are actually really great) as well as multi-surface casters that works great on hard floors or carpet. The Embody also gives the option for a translucent caster which just adds a cool look to the chair as well as options for “braking” casters.
As mentioned above, the Aeron only has a headrest if you add on the optional headrest (which can be expensive). The Embody has a taller back and full seat height adjustment so you have a built-in headrest function. For gamers, the Embody’s headrest function is a must.
These are both Herman Miller chairs so their durability is amazing. They both offer a 12-year warranty because they so rarely ever get damaged. You can easily find 20-year-old chairs for sale online that are basically in mint condition. It’s amazing the level of quality that Herman Miller builds into these chairs. The Aeron’s pellicle mesh will hypothetically last longer than the more typical fabric on the Embody since it is not susceptible to stains. Build-quality wise we’d have to say that the Aeron feels just a little more “tank-like” when compared to the Embody.
As mentioned above, the market for pre-owned Herman Miller Aeron chairs is amazing. These things retain their value like crazy. You won’t see as many Embody’s simply because it is a much newer chair.
Price is probably where you will make your decision between the Aeron vs Embody. If you completely deck out an Aeron, it is still a bit cheaper than the Embody. The Embody is the newest chair from Herman Miller and the price reflects that.
Both the Aeron and the Embody have a 12-year warranty and are built in the USA. These are chairs that will rarely experience any issues and Herman Miller knows this.
Unique features on the Herman Miller Embody
The uniqueness of the Embody is in its overall back design. It doesn’t feel quite like anything else on the market, making the chair an absolute joy to use for long work or gaming sessions. The seat height adjustment, arm width adjustment, and built-in headrest are things that make the Embody stand out in this comparison. Essentially, if you need max adjustment, consider the Embody.
Criticisms of the Embody
Some users have complained that they can actually feel the individual pixels on the Embody. We didn’t experience this in our tests, but it is worth noting. For some body types the way that the seatback on the Embody curves forward can sometimes push their shoulders forward. The arms on the Embody stay put when the chair is reclined. Some people like this, but we would argue that having the armrests move with you is a better design.
Unique features on the Herman Miller Aeron
Without question, the star of the show with the Aeron is its pellicle mesh back design. There’s a reason why so many manufacturers have tried to rip-off this design (and failed) for decades. The mesh gives a great cradling effect to your body that simply isn’t possible with a more typical fabric back. Because the seat is made of mesh, airflow is increased, leading to a much cooler and ventilated experience (you know what we mean). Another big plus with the Aeron is how the armrests work. They are large and padded and tend to lend themselves to being used while typing.
A very cool feature with the Aeron that is completely missing from the Embody is the ability to “forward tilt” the chair. This is a very popular feature among gamers who like to bring themselves closer to their monitors.
Criticisms of the Herman Miller Aeron
The critiques of the Aeron are generally about the plastic frame on the chair. For some users, they can really feel the border of the seat around the back of their thighs. This is especially an issue if you have larger or muscular thighs.
Conclusion: The best Herman Miller chair
As you can see above, there are totally legitimate reasons to go with the Aeron over the Embody and vice versa. First, you can save a bit of money by going with the Aeron. Second, if you are in a multi-user household the Embody is a better option due to its extensive tuning and adjustment. If you tend to “run hot” the Aeron is a bit better ventilated than the more typical fabric on the Embody. For 95% of users, the Embody offers more useful adjustments that will be used regularly. Because of this, we think the Embody deserves a slight edge for most potential buyers.
Full disclosure, I’m writing this comparison while sitting on a Herman Miller Aeron. And I love it! 🤷