What Recession? Herman Miller Launches a $1,600 Chair

embodyHerman Miller, the creator of the wildly popular Aeron chair, have built a high-end chair that will make you all the more comfortable as you sit for eight hours staring in disbelief at your plummeting stock portfolio. At $1,600 the Embody chair doesn’t come cheap, but you’ll be shelling out for nostalgia — hearkening back to the boom times of 2007 when stocks were soaring and people spent $5 on a cup of coffee and $60,000 on an all-natural horsehair mattress from Sweden.
In fact, the Embody chair makes claims quite similar to those made by luxury mattress manufacturers about improving your health. The promotional copy on Herman Miller’s web site aims to emphasize the health benefits of this chair and the four different layers of seating materials used to create such bliss:

Designed specifically for people who sit at computers, Embody makes you feel like you’re floating. It promotes health-positive sitting, creating harmony between you and your computer to help you focus on your work and think more clearly … A matrix of pixels creates dynamic seat-and-back surfaces that automatically conform to your every movement and distribute your weight evenly.

Compare that with the promotional copy for the $60,000 Vividus mattress from Hästen that also focuses on wellness and the magic mix of materials:

Hästens’ master craftsmen and product developers have spent two years experimenting with different combinations of horsehair, cotton, flax and wool to find the perfect balance. The result is a bed which lifts your body and provides support, while allowing you to sink deep down and relax … Vividus represents an investment in a better quality of life.

If you spend a third of your life at your desk, just like you spend a third of your life asleep, then it’s almost inhumane to spend that time in something that doesn’t have health benefits or “a matrix of pixels.”
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So, as the market falls, it’s possible that status health conscious office workers will seek to make their misery less all-encompassing with the purchase of this chair. I know venture firms will. After all, the Aeron (retails for $949), which launched in 1994 far surpasses sales of the cheaper Mira ($849) and Celle ($749) models, according to Herman Miller. Perhaps when Embody chairs hit the market in mid January, I’ll drag my butt from my current chair (Office Depot, $69) to a Herman Miller distributor and see what the fuss is about. Or maybe I can pick up a used Aeron at a discount.