Is Herman Miller’s new $1,495 Embody Gaming Chair worth the price?

Is Herman Miller’s new $1,495 Embody Gaming Chair worth the price?

Herman Miller, the manufacturer of office chairs like the Aeron, Embody, and Sayl, is making a gaming chair. Aimed at gamers, streamers, and esports athletes, the Embody Gaming Chair is, according to the company, “the industry’s first truly ergonomic chair.”

Over the last few years, the gaming world has been inundated with brightly colored, often garish racing-style gaming chairs. The new Embody Gaming Chair — the result of a partnership between Herman Miller and Logitech — is decidedly low-key. Save for a splash of blue on the backside, it looks straight out of my old cubicle.

John Campbell, who leads the gaming business at Herman Miller, says that was a very intentional choice. In an interview with Polygon, I asked him why Herman Miller’s new Embody doesn’t have any snazzy red stitching or flashing LEDs.

“You would not be the first person to bring that up, especially internally in both of our organizations,” Campbell said with a laugh. “It’s an aesthetic desire […] to really push what’s normal and really lean into this premium gaming environment.”

Campbell is alluding to the fact that “normal” for gaming chairs right now is brightly colored fabrics or leather, with high backs and headrests that double as a billboard looming behind streamers broadcasting from homes all over the world. A recent example is the Secretlab Cyberpunk 2077 Edition, which may be the single most obnoxious piece of furniture that I’ve ever seen. It features a bright yellow leather seating surface and a stylized red Oni skull leering from its backside. That’s not something that you want to leave sitting out in your apartment on date night.

Campbell said he sees the tastes of modern gamers maturing faster every day.

“You go and look around on the battlestations subreddit,” Campbell said, “and you’re starting to see this really interesting shift to this really high-end, premium gaming setup. You start to see these adjacencies with sneaker culture and high-end fashion starting to collide into this world of gaming, especially as it becomes mainstream.”

It’s that fashion-forward philosophy that led to the look of the new Herman Miller Embody. But, Campbell said, it’s about catering to the human form as well. That’s why both Logitech and Herman Miller spent time with esports organizations, looking carefully at how athletes were seating themselves in their chairs during practice and competition. Some tucked their feet under them, while others were hunched over their keyboards; neither of those is a posture that’s good for the body.

Ergonomics is largely a problem that Herman Miller has already solved, Campbell said. It only took a few minor alterations to the existing Embody product line to bring it up to spec for gaming. The new chair features heat-dissipating, copper-infused fabric and a little more lift at the back of the seat. It keeps users cool, while putting them in a slightly more erect seating position so they can be closer to the screen.

The lumbar support on the Embody Gaming Chair.

Image: Herman Miller, Logitech

I’ve been test-driving the new seat for less than 24 hours myself, and I can already feel the impact that improved posture has on my body. It’s less about lumbar support and more about mirroring the natural curves of my back. In fact, I ended the day on Tuesday with less pain in my right hip, an issue brought on recently by extra long days spent in my new DIY flight simulator cockpit. My only complaint is that as a 6-foot-6 person with a long torso, the back isn’t quite as high as I’d like it.

The other sticking point for me is the price. At $1,495, the Embody Gaming Chair is less expensive than your run-of-the-mill Embody (around $1,700 or $1,800 through most suppliers). Campbell chalked up the lower price point to a new type of fabric, called Sync, which is just as luxurious but much easier for Herman Miller to produce. I’m just not entirely sure that most folks are willing to plunk down more for a new office chair than a new graphics card.

But, like a good salesman, Campbell has an answer to that objection as well.

“The Embody is designed to last up to 12 years, with 24-hour usage during that time,” Campbell said. “We’re not in the warranty business, so this isn’t a marketing claim. We want to ensure that our chairs actually last that long. So when you buy the Embody Gaming Chair, what you’re buying is the confidence that this chair is an investment. If anything were to go wrong with it, it’s covered at 100%.”

The Embody Gaming Chair is available to order right now, and will be complemented by an optional new monitor arm in short order.

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