Why Herman Miller’s Embody Chair Doesn’t Work for Me

The Herman Miller Embody chair is considered one of the most comfortable office chairs you can get. I seem to be the only person who isn’t totally obsessed with this chair.

So today I’m explaining why most people love the Embody chair, why it doesn’t work for me, and how to adjust it for your body.

Note: This article contains affiliate links. See my disclosures for details.


Herman Miller Embody Chair Review

There’s no doubt this is a beautiful chair. It was created by the people at Herman Miller to look and feel great. It has a perfectly curved spine, and it’s designed to relieve the pressure points on your back.

When this chair is working well, you’re going to see that “S” curve providing support all along the spine.

Side view of the "S" curve back support on the Embody chair

That’s what everyone loves about this chair. The ergonomic shape will fit to your back, support you, help align your spine and allow for comfortable movement.

And that is all brilliant! But there’s one main thing about the chair that doesn’t work for me.


My Problem With the Embody Chair

Most bodies are made of mostly water, but my body is made of mostly bones. So while this relatively thin seat cushion seems to work for most of the users of this chair, it is not soft enough for me.

Thin seat cushion on Herman Miller's Embody chair

The thin cushion is nestled between a layer of fabric and coils. A lot of people like that it is breathable compared to a thicker foam cushion you’d usually see.

It’s just too thin for me, so I’ve been adding a Purple seat cushion on top to make the seat more comfortable.

As you can imagine, that sort of defeats the beauty of this chair. The lumbar support is limited when you raise yourself by two or three inches, losing the “S” curve alignment of the back of the chair.

Using a Purple seat cushion on the Embody office chair

Also, to benefit from Embody’s back support you need to lean back at least a little, and I can’t seem to train myself to do that.

I usually sit up straight or lean slightly forward when I work. So I’m only mostly contacting the seat cushion, and that is the part of the chair that just doesn’t work for me.

But this chair does work for the majority of the people out there, based on the glowing reviews.

If you don’t want a thick seat cushion and you are looking for ergonomic spine support, this chair might be perfect for you. My husband, for instance, is a leaner-backer who absolutely loves his Embody chair.


Where to Get an Embody Chair

You can get an Embody chair on the Herman Miller website or through a reseller. Depending on where you buy your chair, you may be able to customize the casters, frame and upholstery fabric.

The current sticker price is $1,845 as of this writing. A lot of doctors spent a lot of time designing this chair to support your spine, and that’s reflected in the price.

Intricate design and ergonomic back support on Herman Miller's Embody chair

But, no, I did not pay anywhere near $1,845. We were lucky to find my Embody chair pre-owned on Craigslist, and Eric rolled it up the hills of Seattle after tracking it down a few years back.

You might also be able to find a pre-owned deal in your area or from an online marketplace like eBay.


Adjusting the Herman Miller Embody Chair

If you do get an Embody chair, it’s important to adjust it to get the most benefit from the ergonomic design.

And this chair has a lot of convenient adjustment options! You can adjust the seat height, seat depth, tilt tension, tilt limiter, BackFit and armrests.

Seat Height

Raising the Embody chair seat height

Pull the clear knob on the right side of the chair to raise or lower the seat until your knees are bent at a roughly 90-degree angle.

Seat Depth

Changing the Embody chair seat depth

Yes, you can adjust how long or short the seat is! Pull the handles at the edge of the seat forward or backward.

This unique feature could be one of the reasons the seat cushion is so thin, so it’s a trade-off that might be worth it for some people.

Tilt Tension

Herman Miller's Embody chair back tension adjuster

The black knob on the right allows you to adjust the tension of the back tilt. You can twist it clockwise to make it more tense, or counterclockwise to make it easier to lean back.

Tilt Limiter

Lowering the tilt limiter on the Embody office chair

The lever on the back left of the chair allows you to limit the tilt. If you pull it up, you won’t be able to lean back very far. Or if you push it down, you’ll be able to lean back as far as the chair allows.

BackFit

Adjusting the BackFit seat angle on Herman Miller's Embody chair

The knob on the back right of the chair lets you raise or lower the angle of the back. If you want to sit up very straight, you can twist the knob clockwise. The Herman Miller site says this adjustment lets you align your head to your monitor.

Note: If you’re like me and forgetting to lean back while you work, then adjusting the BackFit straight up and limiting the tilt could help you use that spine support.

Armrests (Vertical and Horizontal)

Adjusting the armrests on Herman Miller's Embody chair

The armrests adjust in two directions. Press underneath the armrests to raise or lower the height until your arms rest on them with a roughly 90-degree angle at the elbow.

Then you can adjust them horizontally if you want to pull them closer to your body or push them away for more wiggle room.


Modern Furniture Problems

Of course, as a mid-century modern fan, I adore Herman Miller’s designs and I love the look of the Embody chair.

I just might not be built for the clean, sleek lines of modern furniture. I really need more of a puffy leather recliner with extra thick cushions and built-in cup holders. 😉


Herman Miller Embody Chair Review
How to Adjust Herman Miller's Embody Chair
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2 thoughts on “Why Herman Miller’s Embody Chair Doesn’t Work for Me”

  1. Yes, it is a nice looking chair and has lots of bells and whistles but with that kind of a price tag you would want to be able to use it and be comfortable in it. I would probably be like you and it wouldn’t work for me. It’s great that it works for Eric! (We were at your house when his arrived that summer! 😉 . I remember how excited he was! ) I am with you. When I am at the computer I sit in a kitchen chair and put a pillow behind my back because I can’t lean back far with my back. I otherwise enjoy my recliner! A great chair for those that it does work for!!

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