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A Chair Makes A Hell Of A Difference


People like Joel Spolsky have been going on for years about how paying a bit more money to get a better quality chair up front can make a massive long-term saving, combined with increased productivity and “cool” appeal (there’s a lovely comparison of the cost of a quality chair compared to toilet paper Joel wrote here). The sort of chair that the hip start-ups in the Valley choose to show how cool they are and how valued the employees are has always been the Herman Miller Aeron Chair.

Unfortunately I’ve never worked anywhere that values me enough to buy me an Aeron chair, so instead of shelling out Β£700 for an office chair they’ve preferred to shell out a tenth of that. And that’s been OK. However, since I started working from home it’s meant sitting in my 10 year old cheapo office chair for up to 10 hours a day. And it’s been painful.

Since it offers no back support, lumbar support, buttock support or any other kind of support that a chair should provide I’ve had more than my fair share of aches and pains. My good lady has had to give me numerous back massages to get rid of the searing pain in my shoulders. I soon decided this couldn’t go on and it was time to splash out on a new chair. At the back of my mind the Aeron chair was always there and no matter where I looked I couldn’t find anything good enough (even the top-of-the-range IKEA chairs wouldn’t cut it). So I decided, if it’s good enough for John Topley (who has one), it’s good enough for me – I’m buying an Aeron chair. And then, while about to shell out the requisite Β£700 I came across the Mirra chair, also by Herman Miller.

The Mirra chair, while Β£200 cheaper than an Aeron, is really the new Aeron chair. It’s more adjustable than an Aeron, more recyclable, looks cooler (IMHO) and has myriad colour options (unlike the Aeron). Since the thought of a black chair in my home office wouldn’t go down too well with my good lady (it just wouldn’t match the decor), I realised that we could customise the Mirra to perfectly match its surroundings. So with a deep breath and credit card in hand I ordered the most expensive chair I’ll ever buy. And a couple of days ago it arrived!

My Mirra Chair

So, was it worth the money? Well, to be completely honest I’d have to say yes. It’s worth every penny. As soon as I sat down in it, without even making any adjustments, I found I was sat in a position that was really good for my posture (my posture is usually terrible) and I was completely supported in all the places I should be. I could sit literally all day and know I wouldn’t get the slightest bit of back or shoulder ache. Some tweaking later and the armrests are the perfect height so I can use the keyboard with no effort or strain. It is without doubt the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat in and really, all office chairs should be like this.

So since I’m not knackered after a full day’s working it means the quality of my work will increase as I won’t be battling fatigue and pain. Instead I can concentrate on what I’m doing. If you too spend your working life stuck at a desk in front of a computer screen you owe it to yourself to get your boss to buy you one of these chairs. And if they say “no”, then sounds like you need to change jobs – it certainly worked for me, kinda! I just know that in 20 years time my older self will thank me for spending a bit of cash on a chair now to save the medical bills later.

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

15 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Congratulations on buying a quality chair, John.

    However, I must take issue with one point. Saying the Mirra is the new Aeron is a bit like a Porsche Boxster driver telling themselves that the Boxster is the new 911! πŸ˜‰

    From your left photo it looks like the Mirra doesn’t have a pellicle mesh squab. Maybe that’s where the Β£200 was cut. I’d be worried about my well-supported buttocks getting sweaty if I were you…

    And what is that thing on your desk?! A…PC?


  2. No need to worry about my well-supported buttocks, the bottom of the chair uses a fine, super-advanced mesh material to let them breathe!

    Maybe we should have a chair-off some time. Aeron vs. Mirra. Get some random people to try both and see which they prefer. Might give us some surprises!

    And while I’d love a Mac on my desk – I’m afraid it’s PC’s all the way for work. πŸ™ Macbook for play though! πŸ™‚


  3. A chair-off? Ha ha, I like that! And at least you’ll be comfortable now whilst you’re doing all those spreadsheets and pie-charts on your work PC πŸ˜‰


  4. I recently got the Mirra chair, too. It really is supportive, especially more so than my previous chair, as well as my parents. I used to sit in a wooden chair at work and my left leg would always fall alseep and cause me to fall once I stood up. Now I dont fall anymore. I got free shipping on mine, which was wicked awesome.


  5. A wooden chair? That can’t have been good for you! Only problem I can see with the Mirra chair is I don’t think I’ll ever be able to work in an office with ‘normal’ chairs again!


  6. I guess I’ve been lucky. Most of the companies I worked for have Aeron chairs. Now that I’m back in my old seat at home while looking for the next gig, I do miss it. Speaking of that, I love your new chair and agree with your good lady. The color and bulk of the Aeron chair is the one thing that kept me from buying it when I had the means to do it. When all the dot coms were falling, companies were selling used Aeron chairs really cheap. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy something full of someone’s office farts that they sneaked while praying that the person in the next cube didn’t hear.


  7. Ha ha! That’s the main reason I didn’t look into second-hand chairs too – it’s just not the sort of mental picture I want when sitting down on one! The Aerons do seem rather large and unwieldy but this one looks right at home, eh, at home! πŸ™‚


  8. No, I like your chair a TON. The ones I was talking about are the bigger Aerons that were bulky. I didn’t realize that one was also at Aeron. However, for the above stated reasons, neither would I buy used! πŸ˜‰


  9. I just realised I phrased that badly – it’s not an actual Aeron, I meant that compared to an Aeron it’s a lot less bulky. Maybe I need to get an editor for my commenting! πŸ™‚


  10. i have a Mirra in my office and it really is the best chair in the world!! is more confortable than my bed!! πŸ˜‰


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