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How Do Herman Miller Chairs Compare Against Steelcase Chairs?

If you are in the market for a high-end office chair, you have probably encountered the Herman Miller and Steelcase brands as two premium options. It can be hard to tell which manufacturer will offer you the best office chair, so we’ve reviewed both companies and their collection of office chairs to help you narrow it down for the ultimate Herman Miller vs Steelcase showdown.

We checked out chairs like the Herman Miller Mirra and Aeron and the Steelcase Leap and Gesture to determine the best parts and worst parts of each company’s design. So to learn the ins and outs of these two office chair companies, read our review that features pricing, warranty, comfort, adjustability, and more.

Build Quality

Both companies make high-end office chairs, so the quality of both is very high. Unlike cheaper chairs, the components of each chair are designed specifically for that model, rather than using generic parts. Steelcase and Herman Miller manufacture each chair with care and detail, so they will last a long time and provide optimal comfort.

Most Herman Miller chairs are steel, molded aluminum, and plastic components. When you sit in Herman Miller chairs it is obvious they are designed with integrity in mind. Their chairs move smoothly with the user, and there are never any loose or ill-fitting parts that may concern the user. Herman Miller chairs use the finest mesh on the market, so the chair is soft and comfortable as well as easy to clean and maintain.

Steelcase chairs are almost exclusively plastic parts. They don’t do this to save money or skimp in quality, but make the chair super lightweight and easy to move around. A light office chair is especially useful if you ever need to move offices or transport your chair elsewhere. Although they focus on plastic, the quality of Steelcase chairs is on par with the durability and flexibility of Herman Miller chairs.

Size Options

This is an important category because not every office worker is built the same, so a variety of sizes is imperative here.

Herman Miller knows this, and they offer most of their chairs in three sizes labeled A-C. Size A is for petite users, B is for average users, and C is for bigger users. Many people of above or below average size struggle to find comfortable, appropriately-sized office chairs. Herman Miller designs their chairs with this in mind to offer a wider demographic of people comfortable and high-quality office chairs.

Steelcase does not follow their lead, and most of their chairs only come in one size. Despite their excellent adjustability, this is still inconvenient for those with smaller or larger bodies than the average person. Neglecting to offer different sizes cuts a great deal of the population from their consumer base.

Upholstery Options

Herman Miller chooses to focus on their design rather than their appearance. Most of their chairs are available in the High-quality Pellicle mesh they use for many of their chairs. The color options are also very limited, with some chairs only available in gray or black, or even just black.

On the other side of things, Steelcase loves to offer its chairs in many colors and materials. Some chairs come in as many as eighty different upholstery options, including a handful of leather choices. If you want a more stylish, unique chair you’ll likely find it through Steelcase.

Ergonomic Properties

As people learn more and more about the importance of ergonomics, the type of chair we use in the office becomes a health decision. Herman Miller and Steelcase chairs are at the top of the list of ergoromic office chairs but have surprisingly different ergonomic properties.

Herman Miller chairs are less ergonomic than Steelcase chairs. Their chairs lack adjustability in arm width, seat depth, and back height adjustment, which are vital in fitting the chair to your body. However, they offer the best lumbar support on the market as well as 3D arms, seat height, and forward seat tilt adjustment.

The Steelcase chairs, on the other hand, are all about ergonomics. They include adjustable options on seat height, depth adjustment, adjustable lumbar, and 4D arms for one of the most customizable office chairs available. Because of this, you should be able to fine-tune the chair perfect for your body and comfort. The only feature missing from Steelcase chairs is the ability to adjust the height of the backrest.

Seat Comfort

Seat comfort is possibly the most subjective aspect of reviewing an office chair. It really depends on personal preferences, hip width, and so many more factors. But we’ll do our best to give you an idea of the seat comfort levels of these two manufacturers.

For Herman Miller, there seems to be more of a divide among users. Some people love the bouncy mesh seat that allows for some sinkage when you sit in it. It cushions you without being plush. The sides of the seat proved to be too narrow for many users; the seat pan has edges that apple pressure to your hips which can make you uncomfortable.

The Steelcase chairs receive more adoration for their seat comfort. The seat has an incredible amount of give compared to the Herman Miller chairs. The seat has a cushion that isn’t too thick or thin, so you don’t feel the seat frame underneath but you also don’t feel like your rolling around on top of a pillow. The seat also seems to be more flexible than the Herman Miller options; the front is soft and easily curves downward to prevent applying pressure to the back of your calves.

Back Comfort

Another subjective category, but we will describe the backrest as best we can so you have a feeling for what you’re getting into. Luckily, both of these manufacturers offer excellent return policies if you don’t love your chair.

The Herman Miller chairs have a lightweight backrest, usually outfitted with the same mesh used all over their chairs. The mesh allows for give as well as breathability so the user can feel cool and comfortable, not like they’re being hugged by their office chair.

The real pro of the Herman Miller backrests is that they focus on the importance of lumbar support. Many people, and office chair makers, don’t understand the severity of lumbar damage or discomfort. But Herman Miller chairs have some of the best lumbar support options out of any furniture.

The Steelcase chair backrests vary from the Herman Miller Backrests. The Steelcase backrests are similar to their seats in that they are lightweight, flexible, and have just the right amount of cushion.

Where the chairs lack weight in their frame, they make up for it in their padding because the Steelcase chairs look like they’d be heavier than the Herman Miller, but it is quite the opposite. The Steelcase backrests offer lower back tension relief and sensational lumbar support.

Armrests

When it comes to armrests on office chairs, there are two important things to note: how well the armrests fit the user’s arm and how comfortable the armrests themselves are.

The Herman Miller armrests are soft, squishy padding with the smooth feeling of leather. Herman Miller offers armrests that pivot in three different directions for maximum adjustability. Three-dimensional armrests check off our first box since almost any user can adjust the armrests to fit them perfectly.

They also offer chairs with static armrests or height-adjustable ones that only move up and down if you prefer that. Because the armrests are attached to the back of the chair, it makes for a comfortable recline if you enjoy doing that.

The Steelcase armrests are 4-dimensional adjustable rests, so you can customize the width, depth, height, and pivot to your preference. The pads are much harder than the Herman Miller armrests so if you like a squishy, padded armrest the Herman Miller would be better.

However, the Steelcase armrests are comfortable even though they seem less of a focus for the manufacturer.

Price

Everyone has their own budget for buying an office chair but assuming you’ve narrowed it down to these two manufacturers; you’re looking for a high-end option.

If you still want to factor in price, the Steelcase chairs undoubtedly win this round. Herman Miller chairs range widely in price, but an average office chair on their website is about $1,500, while the same quality chairs on Steelcase are around $1,000. That’s a significant price difference to factor in.

Warranty

Herman Miller and Steelcase offer two of the best warranties available for office chairs.

Herman Miller offers a 12-year warranty for every single component on the chair. So if any part of the chair breaks or malfunctions, they promise to take care of it for 12 years, which is about the average life of a chair anyway. They will even send a Herman Miller technician to look at your broken chair, or they’ll cover the cost of a different specialist to fix it.

The Herman Miller warranty applies to 24/7 use at a 300-350 pound weight capacity depending on the model you buy.

Steelcase has a similar warranty that lasts for 12 years. It covers most components, including upholstery, padding, frame, mechanism, casters, and more. Just like Herman Miller, they’ll send a technician to help with repairs if necessary.

The Steelcase warranty applies to 24/7 usage at 400-500 pound weight capacity depending on the model.

Return Policy

Both Steelcase and Herman Miller offer convenient return policies that make it easy for you to try the chair with no risks. If you don’t like the chair, you have a full 30 days to return it, and both companies will cover the cost of shipping. Major furniture companies like these ones want to guarantee you like your chair. So they make it easy for you to bring it back if it doesn’t satisfy you.

Bottom Line

herman miller vs steelcase
Source: Shutterstock

Both Herman Miller and Steelcase offer a collection of fantastic, high-quality office chairs with the users’ comfort in mind. But there is no denying the legacy of Herman Miller. They basically invented the mesh office chair, which revolutionized workplace comfort and ergonomics.

In the end, Herman Miller offers chairs made with top-of-the-line materials and excellent lumbar support. Despite the adjustability of the Steelcase and the plethora of color and fabric options, Herman Miller still shines as the top office furniture manufacturer in the US.

FAQs

Are they both US-based companies?

Herman Miller is a US-based company, with headquarters located in Ottawa, Michigan. Steelcase is a US-based company but has factories across all of North America, with a handful in Mexico.

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