If you've found this article through a Google search I expect like me you've read a plethora of articles and blog posts that vary from saying how amazing the Aeron is, to how the Aeron is an over-priced relic of the burst dot com bubble of the 90s. Well this one is my take on Herman Miller's Aeron.
Before buying my Aeron I decided to make use of Herman Miller's trial Aeron, this isn't something they make you overly aware of so if you're thinking about getting a new office chair, contact your local representative (or the Herman Miller website) and ask if you can hire one for a month. It'll cost you somewhere around £40 but it'll at least allow you to see what you're getting before outlaying £400+. The trial Aeron took a little getting used to which I've put down to the fact that my posture in the old chair was seriously bad but after a week or so I was sitting very comfortably indeed.
One of the simpler things I liked about the Aeron was the fact you can raise it up higher than many other chairs, this is important for me as my desk is 4-5 inches too high which means I'm always sitting incorrectly. By raising the Aeron up a little more I was able to sit with my arms flat on the desk reducing shoulder and back ache considerably. Another aspect of Herman Miller's Aeron chair that I liked was the fact you could adjust the resistance of the back, again a simple; but important feature, it takes a little trial and error but you can get the balance just right so it lifts you up into your position but doesn't stop you from leaning back to relax (or in my case kick back when you do something right).
Rather than having a cushioned fabric seat, the Aeron has a mesh that stretches a little to offer the same comfort padding does but without the worry that in 2 years time, the padding turns to something more like cardboard (which is one of the factors that prompted my search for a new office chair). The downside I've found with this mesh is it overly aerated which in my case means my bum is kept very cool (and back which is a good thing as sweatiness is reduced to a minimum) -great in the summer but in the winter brrrr!
The main downside to having the Aeron is the price, as I wanted a grey one, I had mine imported from the States and paid a premium but you can pick up the basic spec chair for around £400 (and probably less if you do a little bargaining), baring in mind the 12 year warranty these chairs carry it should in theory outlast 3-4 £99 type office chairs and look after your back in the meantime. Being somewhat of a scrooge, I looked at it from the POV that the difference between what I would spend on new £99 chairs in the warranty period of the Aeron would only be a matter of £200 or so which equates to around 5p per day. That's got to be worth it :)
On the whole though I really like my Herman Miller Aeron, I feel it has really helped my posture and although I didn't really suffer from back ache after a long day (probably down to my canoeing) I feel that the small investment short-term will pay off in the longer term. I consider the chair a luxury and so wouldn't splash out on it if I were a start-up as there are far more important things to get sorted first! That said, if you're planning on spending long hours in your chair from the outset maybe it is worth the expense from the start.
It's worth stating at this point that in addition to trying out the Aeron, I also tried out Herman Miller's alternative offerings and a number of alternative office chairs but I didn't find I got the same comfort.
I did a lot of shopping around for a suitably cheap(er) supplier and was surprised to find out that the supplier just down the road from me was able to offer the cheapest price by far (ignoring delivery etc) so check out Creative Box in Birmingham, Kate from Creative Box in Birmingham was more than helpful and patient in answering my 101 questions so I'm sure she'll be able to help you out too.