Herman Miller Setu Review: Should You Buy It for Your Home Office?

Herman Miller is known for making some of the most popular and cherished office chairs you can buy.

Certain models, like the Aeron, have legions of devoted fans and passionate owners.

Just take a look on Reddit and you’ll see dozens of threads that mention this iconic office chair.

The Herman Miller Setu, graphite, via SmartFurniture

But there are some lesser known models out there that might be worth of look as well. For example, in this post we’ll take a look at the Herman Miller Setu.

If you’ve been researching Herman Miller chairs, you know that these products aren’t cheap. With all the style, brand recognition, comfort and ergonomics comes a higher-price tag. And the Setu is no exception.

But despite its cost, this chair is unique. This is a comfortable chair that’s minimal, stylish and lightweight.

Let’s take a closer look at the Setu to see if it’s right for you.

What is the Setu?

The Setu, via SmartFurntiture

The  Setu is part of a collection of stylish and modern office furniture from Herman Miller, including office task chairs, stools, lounge chairs, and tables.

Designed at Studio 7.5 Berlin, the same studio where other popular models like the Mirra and Mira II are created, the Setu line is all about blending comfort with collaboration.

These pieces are meant to be visually minimal and physically lightweight, so you don’t end up with cluttered spaces and you’re free to shift things around in collaborative work environments.

For home office workers, the Setu office chair comes in a variety of colors and materials, with fixed arm or armless versions, fixed or rolling bases (4 and 5 leg options), and a 12-year warranty.

This gives you plenty of options to find a model that fits your needs, works in your space, and will be with you for the long term.

But what about the important stuff, like the comfort and ergonomics? Well, that’s the point of this review, so let’s jump into the comfort and specs.

Is the Setu Comfortable?

If you’re spending more than a couple hundred bucks on an office chair, you want to make sure it’s going to be comfortable (at the very least).

We spend a lot of time sitting in these chairs (now more than ever) so the comfort aspect is crucial. The Setu delivers on the comfort factor for most users. Let me clarify.

The Setu is relatively small and lightweight. The chair width is 25.125″ and the depth is 17.25″. And the Setu weighs only 17 lbs! That’s a 4-5 lb difference when compared to popular models in this size range.

And, amazingly, this 17 lb chair can support a person that weighs up to 300lbs. That’s impressive. And it would indicate that the Setu is designed to comfortably accommodate a broad range of users.

But it’s just too narrow for some.

For example, by contrast, the Aeron medium model is 27″ wide, almost two whole inches wider than the Setu. And that’s just the medium. That might not sound like a lot, but 2 inches can make or break the comfort level on an office chair seat.

Plus, the armrests in the Setu are fixed, unlike many ergonomic office chairs that come with 2D or 3D adjustable armrests.

But if the width isn’t a problem for you, and you appreciate the curvature and sleek design of the armrests, then overall the Setu is a comfortable office chair.

And a lot of that comes down to the materials.

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Overview of Materials and Construction

With the Setu you get two primary choices for seating materials: Lyris 2 mesh textile or Fabric upholstery

Lyris 2

The high-performance option is the Lyris 2® textile. This is an elastomeric mesh material that stretches over the entire frame of the chair, from the seat to the backrest.

You can get the Lyris version in at least 7 different color options, including the sleek graphite look shown above.

Also, the Lyris is breathable and flexible – providing firm but comfortable support.

Fabric Upholstery

The other option with the Sertu is fabric upholstery, with additional suspension and structural support built in to a multi-layered fabric. The upholstered model comes in over 10 different color options.

Between the two material options, we would go with the Lyris.

It’s a lightweight, transparent mesh that adds to the overall design aesthetic. Plus, it is designed specifically to respond to the natural movement of the frame, also known as the “kinematic spine”.

Setu Frame – The “Kinematic Spine”

The Setu does not come with a bunch of adjustability options to let you change the tilt position, tilt tension, seat depth, etc. It only comes with a height adjustment control.

This may be a downside for some users who like to tweak and adjust their chair into their exact preferred position.

But, the reality is that most of us are constantly moving around and changing positions during the workday, so what we really need is a chair that responds to these movements and adapts to our natural position changes.

That’s how the Setu is designed and where the concept of the “kinematic spine” comes into play.

So, instead of a recline lock option with tension control, you get a frame made from 2 layers of polypropylene that automatically supports you and controls resistance as you recline.

It takes away the manual aspect of adjusting your chair, and keeps things active, light and ergonomic.

This skeletal frame sits on a sturdy aluminum base, so although you can move around and recline freely, you don’t lose out on stability.

The base is easy to move and swivel, sitting on 2.5″ diameter nylon casters with a soft tread that works well on hard flooring.

These are hallmarks of smart chair design, which (as we all know) is something that Herman Miller excels in.

Ribbon Style Armrests

While you can get this chair as a multi-use office chair or side chair without the armrests, we think the armrests are pretty unique and worth a look.

First, as mentioned, the armrests are fixed. You cannot move them up or down, side to side, or change the angle like in some modern ergo chairs.

Instead, the Setu features a “ribbon” style armrest design.

This means the arms twist like a flat ribbon, beginning on the backrest and extending down t0 the base of the seat. It’s a light and comfortable place to rest your arms, and it adds a funky and modern look to make the chair standout.

However, if you prefer a big padded armrest, or something that can be lowered or raised up, you might be disappointed with this design.

Overall Thoughts

In this review of the Setu from Herman Miller, we’ve pointed out many of the good things about this chair.

In summary:

  • A modern, lightweight and comfortable side chair or primary office chair
  • Innovative design with kinematic spine frame for natural recline movement and resistance
  • Available with high-performance Lyris 2 mesh textile
  • Ergonomic “ribbon” style armrests
  • Supports up to 300 lbs but still highly portable and perfect for collaborative work environments
  • Sturdy and stable alloy base with multi-surface casters

While we appreciate all of the above factors, the Setu might not be for everyone.

Here’s why:

  • The only adjustment is to change the height of the chair (adjustment range is 15.7 to 20.4 inches)
  • While the chair has a high weight capacity, in reality, it is just too narrow and not roomy enough for larger or heavier users
  • It lacks the comfort and cushioning that some customers prefer for long hours at the desk
  • The armrests are fixed (you can get it without armrests as well)

For a task chair that you can use either as a primary office chair or as part of a group of working chairs in a more collaborative work environment – this chair is great.

You can even match it with other products in the Setu line-up for a very modern, cohesive and clean office look.

Or keep it at your desk in a minimal and modern home office.

If you need something with more width, cushioning and adjustability options, check out some more office chair options featured on this site.