January 17, 2021
It's not easy to get excited about a desk chair. After all, the last place most of us want to be for hours on end is tied to our desks, building spreadsheets and presentations. After over twenty years of that, I, for one, would certainly rather do something else with my time. If you do have to spend a significant amount of time at your desk, however, it's awfully nice, even imperative, to be comfortable. The Steelcase Gesture chair has made me more comfortable at my desk than I have ever been, and I only wish that I had bought it sooner. A little background - about a year and a half ago, I was at a movie/TV set surplus sale and picked up two gently used Steelcase Amia chairs for $50 each, which was a tremendous bargain. I figured I could use a good quality desk chair at home for the rare day that I didn't go to the office, and my wife took the second one to the school where she teaches, and it served as a huge upgrade over the ridiculously unsupportive chair that her district provides to all teachers. Fast-forward 9 months, and we both start working from home, due to the pandemic. She brought her chair home from school, and we both worked pretty comfortably in these Amia chairs for 9 months. In-person learning eventually resumed, and so she took her chair back to school, leaving us with one at home. Recently, however, she's been doing more and more work from home, and it didn't seem right to have her use a dining chair, so I figured it was time for a new chair for myself, as I am still working from home all the time, with my Amia chair going to her for the few hours per week that she might need it. While I have always found the Amia pretty comfortable, she's liked it even more than I have; though it's better than the chair I have at my office, I've always felt that it could catch me a bit better, particularly in the lumbar area. It does have an adjustable lumbar support, but that honestly doesn't do a whole lot, and it tends to slide down from whatever position I set it in pretty quickly. So, I decided that if I was going to get a new chair, I'd truly try a different model, and given my prior good experience with Steelcase and excellent online reviews both here and elsewhere, I'd give the Gesture a try. The Gesture is, for me, so much more comfortable than the Amia, and I am exceptionally glad to have bought it. I have always preferred seating with pretty aggressive, or firm, lumbar support, so I was initially a bit concerned about the Gesture's lack of an adjustable lumbar support (available as an option from Steelcase, but not on the chair that Amazon stocks), but now that I have the chair, I'm convinced that it is not necessary. The chair catches my entire back just right, with ample firm lumbar support which moves with me throughout the day. I love that I can recline just a few degrees from vertical and the chair holds me there, without my needing to exert continuous pressure or tense my core muscles. Basically, the chair virtually senses where you want to be, and it stays in that position. Deeper reclines are also quite comfortable and stable. The analog seat-depth adjustment (rather than just four or five fixed settings) is a really nice touch, particularly since it can be changed while you're sitting. And the adjustability of the armrests is second-to-none; the Amia already does this pretty well, but the Gesture does it quite a bit better. For years, I have had issues with pain in my left shoulder and lower neck that I know come from putting too much weight on my elbows, forearms and wrists while sitting at my desk. Those issues have disappeared almost entirely since I got the Gesture, which tells me that I have managed to dial in just the right armrest position, which, for me, means that they're pulled in pretty close to my body and as far away from the edge of the desk as possible, allowing me to tuck my legs deep under the desk and not reach very far for the keyboard, keeping my arms level with the desk, lightly supported by the armrests. The whole setup is just extremely comfortable. Some people have noted that the armrests slope to the outside to such a degree that their arms sometimes slide off, but I have not experienced that at all, nor have I found the armrest material is at all rough, which is another complaint I have seen. Perhaps Steelcase has changed the armrests slightly since those reviews were written. I've noticed that some people have complained that the cushioning is insufficient, but I have not found that to be the case. It's firm, but for me, at least, is in no way inadequate; quite the opposite, really, as it's very supportive, which is essential for good ergonomics. I wouldn't want living-room couch-style cushioning in a desk chair. Build quality is exceptional, and the chair weighs a ton. I have little doubt that it will last me for many years. The Graphite color is a bit lighter than it appears in Amazon's pictures, at least on my screen. When the chair arrived, I discovered that it's exactly the same fabric and color that we already have on our Amia chairs. Prior to ordering, I thought that Nickel might be the better match, but Graphite was a bit less expensive and could be delivered more quickly, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Graphite is indeed what we already had. At this point, the only outstanding question is what I will do if I eventually have to return to the office. I hope to continue working from home indefinitely, but if they call me back full-time, I will likely take this chair in with me, as it's much better than what have there. If I end up working a hybrid schedule, with a few days at home and a few at the office, I might even have to invest in another Gesture so I have one in both locations. It really is that good!
September 12, 2020
I have spent countless hours and months browsing for a new chair and have narrowed it down to what I see as the top in this market from the industry titans, Herman Miller and Steelcase. The Aeron, Embody, and Leap are what I and I'm sure many others see as the best of the best. However I eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted the Aeron over the others. Why? It is the most utilitarian of any other chair. It brings a sleek, modern, industrial design while seamlessly blending both form and function. It also has the best and accessible third party additions such as the Atlas headrest (which I STRONGLY suggest you purchase as well as it is easily the best headrest on the market and incredibly made.) This chair does away with features that are, in my honest opinion not needed on a chair that yourself will use at home such as seat depth and arm width. These are ergonomic features that are great but with the three sizes you can find the perfect sized chair for your height and weight. Think of it like buying a great pair of leather shoes. If they are the correct size, they are the best fitting and most comfortable thing you own. But because of this I once again STRONGLY suggest you find a nearby seller that carries this chair and specifically the remastered edition as the chair has some size differences from its previous model. This will allow you, just like you would try on clothes, to find the right size for you in person. You could always buy this chair directly from HM or a dealer as well but purchasing through amazon is by far the best option as the delivery is so fast. I had the chair withing a few days after ordering. If I ordered through HM themselves, I would potentially have to wait weeks or even a month. You should absolutely be getting all the features on this chair regardless and since the fully kitted model is all they sell on amazon its the best way to go. At this price range you want every possible feature and adjustment they offer. Now what should you expect if you do go through with this purchase? I will be sincere and brutally honest. It will be uncomfortable. You will most likely experience pain for the first week or two owning this chair. Now I know what you're thinking. Pain? Isn't that what you don't want? Of course but here's the deal. I would easily say 99% of people working from home or have any sort of office space in the homes at all have been sitting in fairly inexpensive chairs without the absolute best knowledge in ergonomics. Most chairs we sit in have regular padded seats or we seek comfort with big cozy armchairs or the classic large executive chair. Yea they are comfortable but they actually lack the right support for our bodies in the long run. For example, it is better we sat in firmer seats that can in turn properly support our pelvis and base of the spine. The classic padded arm chair, executive chair, or basic office chair causes us to sink more into the chair. This doesn't provide the support we need which can lead to back issues. Yes it's comfortable in the moment to veg out but it isn't great for our bodies. We aren't built to sit for extremely long periods of time so we need to have the most support we can get. When I first sat in this chair my butt hurt, it wasn't used to the firmer sit. But gradually over time it went away as my body adjusted and now it is extremely comfortable. I should add that one of the main reasons I was looking for a new chair was to fix the circulation of my legs being cut off from sitting in previous chairs. This fixed that right away. The back support was also uncomfortable at first and took a bit longer for my body to adjust to but it has gotten much better and fixed issues I wasn't even aware of. I thought my posture wasn't terrible for the most part. I consciously sat up straight and looked for proper support where I needed it. But I was actually doing it wrong. Lumbar support is supposed to be right around or above the belt line, not below it. I , for as long as I can remember was putting the lumbar in the small of my back which of course felt more comfortable but, instead it was pushing my lower spine further inward along with causing more tilt in my pelvis. This is called anterior pelvic tilt and actually it is extremely common in people without them actually knowing it. This chair corrected this issue. Now it wasn't an extreme condition of it, but none the less I can easily see that my posture and pelvic alignment has adjusted to a more neutral position within a few weeks of using it. It corrected an ongoing and potential growing issue that I was doing to myself over years of poor seating in just a couple weeks. I attribute this to the PostureFit SL system that provides both support to the mid-back/actual proper lumbar position as well as support to the sacrum providing proper natural tilt to the pelvis. This is something I truly didn't notice or understand till after I figured out what it was doing. The only chair I can honestly say that may do the same thing in some way is the Embody as it does provide that full on back support. But I don't thing it necessarily provides it as strongly which I think is what people actually need. The Leap doesn't have any sort of pelvic support as there is a gap between the back of the chair and the seat pan. There really is only the classic height adjustable lumbar support along with depth tension (which the PostureFit does provide). However as I finally figured out, if you don't know how to properly align your lumbar support and only put it where it "feels good", it could do more harm than good over time. Some things to note, I love the arms on this chair and find them to be the best arms ever made. Yes they are better than the Leap's and by far and away better than the Embody's. I actually think the Embody arms are the worst designed arms of any chair, especially for a chair of that caliber. The seat recline is also something to be experienced as it is unique to Herman Miller chairs and I believe even the Aeron's is even more special. I can honestly go on about this chair for more but the main take away is that, yes this chair is 100% worth the price just for the build quality and ergonomic prowess this thing brings let alone the massive 12 year warranty that covers everything on the chair. Herman Miller provides some of, if not the best customer service for their chairs in the business.