My Aeron chair is borked. Now what?
November 28, 2021 10:02 AM   Subscribe

After 24 years of multiple hours of daily use, my Aeron chair is finally borked. Do I replace it with a new Aeron chair, or something else? Specifications inside.

The major restriction is that I am short; like, 5 feet tall on a good day. Wheels are important to me and I don't want a headrest. I'm willing to spend up to about $2K if necessary to get a comfortable and durable chair. I haven't shopped for a desk chair in 24 years, and haven't kept up with developments. Which chairs should I check out? Or is there a store in the Chicago or Milwaukee area that carries most if not all of the top contenders so I can see and test them?
posted by DrGail to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I mostly hear Steelcase Leap as an alternative, but I have an Aeron and I bought my wife another for her home office last year, and we have been entirely satisfied. Do take a look at used/refurbished options! I believe I paid about $550 for a B with the fancy lumbar support and forward tilt. Granted, we're in the SF bay area so there may be more startup-went-bust surplus Aerons floating around, but I got my chair (C, basic lumbar and forward tilt) in LA for <$400 refurb, so it's not only a Bay Area thing.
posted by Alterscape at 10:12 AM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

How borked is it? They can often be repaired, and parts are plentiful for them due to their long life and name brand recognition.
posted by kschang at 10:37 AM on November 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry that I don't have any specific Chicago/ Milwaukee specific recs, but I second going in person to a used office furniture store.

For what it's worth, the sales person gave me the following advice a) everyone is different. Try out a bunch of chairs and see what is comfortable. b) don't focus on brand names. Some of the "best" office chair brands aren't household names, because they only sell directly to businesses.
posted by oceano at 10:45 AM on November 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have a Steelcase Leap that's lasted for fifteen years so far. I've used it for my 40-hour-a-week office job during that whole time (fortunately, the company let me take it when I switched to work from home). The armrests did crack and have been replaced, but otherwise, there have been no problems. I'm 5'6", so I don't know how your height would figure into it. But it's a great chair, and I'm very happy with it.
posted by FencingGal at 11:10 AM on November 28, 2021

Honestly, if I were in your shoes, I would just get another Aeron, it works for you. It seems that most chairs are sized for taller/bigger people which is quickly going to eliminate a lot of options except for the Aeron which has three sizes.

The only places I've found to have more than one brand of chair are from furniture resellers, but they're going to be used and have a widely varying selection. If you buy used, you may not have a warranty or return policy. If you just want to see what else Herman Miller has now, they are showroomed in Design Within Reach stores - Chicago, IL studio and they also have one in Milwaukee. People say good things about the Embody. Note that there is currently a 15% off Herman Miller sale, but it ends Nov 30.

I'm sitting in a refurbished Leap v2 from Crandall Office Furniture - they have a seven day return policy, but I believe the official Steelcase store also has a 14 day return policy. Crandall also sells replacement Aeron parts.
posted by meowzilla at 11:27 AM on November 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I am about your height with short legs. I find office chairs impossible, with none I try having a low enough seat height. If the Aeron worked for you and you can afford a replacement I would just get one.
posted by plonkee at 11:47 AM on November 28, 2021

I've had a Mirra 2 (another Herman Miller chair) for about 15 years now and it's still going strong. It's similar in a lot of respects to the Aeron, but it's about 25% cheaper. I also have quite short legs and it suits me well.
posted by pipeski at 1:56 PM on November 28, 2021

Wirecutter likes the Steelcase Gesture. "Anyone can make the Gesture comfortable, regardless of their height or size." Cheaper than Aeron but still over $1000.
posted by wryly at 3:17 PM on November 28, 2021

With that budget you could buy a new Aeron, but you might be able to get the one you have repaired for much less. If the only thing wrong is the hydraulic center column you can order one off the internet and replace it yourself if you’re handy and have a mallet.

Used office furniture warehouses have a constant supply of Aeron chairs but in my experience they’ll mostly have the bigger sizes and not the small one you need. The place we recently went (which posted daily on Craigslist, it seemed) had more Aeron chairs than anything else, and I believe that’s a universal truth. I love my Leap and because my wife is now WFH into the foreseeable future we recently picked up a second one. My wife tried everything they had and decided on another Leap, but if you know you like the Aeron, you probably want another one if you can’t fix yours. The guy where we went seemed willing to swap parts around if necessary to make a sale so it’s possible they could even help repair the one you have. The chair we got was really dusty (like it came from a warehouse and not an office) but it was mechanically sound. As the saying goes, it cleaned up real nice.
posted by fedward at 4:13 PM on November 28, 2021

I have a Steelcase Gesture and I love it. I'm 5'2". I absolutely love it. I've only had it 6 months, so can't speak to longevity, though I've used Steelcase chairs at my job that were a decade plus and still happily chugging along. It's basically the best chair I've ever sat in, by far.

With that being said, the aeron doesn't work for me, but if it's worked for you, may be best just to stick with that. But if you decide to branch out, definitely consider the Gesture. (I'd vote for Gesture over Leap because of the adjustability. Although it does claim to be a chair for a range of heights/sizes, I honestly feel like it's best fit for somewhat on the smaller side, which is perfect for me, and it sounds like for you as well.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:19 PM on November 28, 2021

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