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Mirra Chair Review

2010 October 10
by Joe

I recently threw down a nontrivial chunk of money to buy a chair, as much as would normally be spent on a proper gadget. This post is a quick review, justification to my self for spending that money, and an attempt at encouraging others to invest in an excellent chair.

Why the Mirra?

After much research and testing the chair I ended up with is the fully loaded Herman Miller Mirra. It retails for $600 – $900 depending on where you buy and what options you select. The prices on new chairs are about the same everywhere so it makes sense to optimize on tax and shipping.

You can find used chairs online and save several hundred dollars but keep in mind that the warranties are often bound to the original owner and not to the chair.

As for the Mirra, it’s a beautiful piece of furniture that is incredibly, utterly comfortable. Read the Amazon reviews for the Basic and Loaded versions if you want more perspective than this post can offer alone.

It feels like a solid product and weighs a ton. My hope is to keep this thing for a full 10+ years before having to consider a replacement.

My list of features that make this chair:

  • Mesh bottom and back keep things cool.
  • The hard back has just enough give to let you get positioned comfortably with little effort and your shoulders can push back fairly easily.
  • The forward tilt option is great as it lets your back stay fully supported even when leaning forward.
  • The lumbar support is exceptional and I found it better than any other chair I tried out.
  • The tilt tension adjustment works really well and is easy to adjust. The idea with these chairs is you don’t lock the tilt with crude pins but instead adjust the tilt tension until it feels natural and moves how you want.

Other Contenders

I looked at and sat in a bunch of the popular high end chairs from Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Humanscale before pulling the trigger on the Mirra. The others that I liked most included the following:

Steelcase Leap

This chair is also very comfortable and comes highly recommended online for programmers. This was the final contender and I almost went with it instead of the Mirra. I didn’t like the lumbar support quite as much.

Herman Miller Aeron

These are very comfortable and adjustable chairs that I sat in for 5+ years at my old office. I personally found the Mirra more comfortable and more supportive of my back but your mileage may vary. If you are looking at the Aeron be mindful that it comes in 3 frame sizes and picking the wrong one can noticeably degrade comfort.

Herman Miller Embody

The Embody is really amazing. I actually found this chair to be more comfortable than any of the above including the Mirra but the 2x multiplier on the price was too much for me to justify even with the tainted mindset apparent in this post. I don’t know how to explain how comfortable it was but the thin back and being able to flex your shoulders around the chair had a big impact.

Where to Try Them Out

If you are in the Atlanta area and want to try out a bunch of these chairs in one shot swing by the Sam Flax store on the west side. They have dozens of chairs, awesome staff, and prices competitive with what you would find online. Before spending the money it is definitely worth sitting in several and playing with the adjustments.

Another option is C-W-C near 285/85. They carry everything Herman Miller makes though are more optimized for selling larger batches. If buying for an office give them a call as they are one of a few certified Herman Miller dealers and can entertain significant haggling on price.

Worth It?

Yes.

Spending this sort of money on a chair seemed ridiculous at first but as I thought about it over several months I now believe it makes complete sense for the following reasons:

  • My back sucks, especially considering my age. If I don’t keep it happy I feel like an old man. I chalk this up to football growing up but am not fully certain of why.
  • The chairs at my current office are really terrible. My bad back doesn’t help.
  • I sit in my chair at the office for 10-12 hours on an average day. When it is crunch time the hours stack higher.
  • That is more time, by a comfortable margin, than I spend sleeping each 24 hour cycle. How much did you spend on your mattress?
  • If you are a computer/software person you probably spend a ton of money on gear – laptops, bags, phones, monitors, etc. Your chair should be in that list of things you are willing to pay more for given that it actually has an impact on your health.
  • These high end chairs allow you to sit literally for days (I pulled some wicked long hours in my old Aeron) without noticing any discomfort. You simply don’t think about your chair and can focus on your work.
  • High end chairs come with high end warranties. Parts and labor are covered on the Mirra for 10 years and the feedback online of people that had to contact warranty are exceedingly positive.
  • As a final personal reason I was diagnosed with a very mild case of Trigeminal Neuralgia and when I sit uncomfortable for long periods of time and start leaning forward the right side of my face begins to flare up. I really have a mild (and not painful) case and it isn’t a big deal but it is a factor for me.

One caveat on having a chair this comfortable is that you must remember to still stand up regularly and stretch things out a bit. My solution to this is to drink enormous amounts of water and coffee all day so I have to walk down the hall to the restroom every 45-60 minutes. While fairly annoying it does work.

Final Thoughts

These high end chairs are worth it. Sitting in one for just a moment feels great but once you have them tuned for your build and preferences they are really fantastic. This past week I have found myself looking forward to reaching the office so I can sit down in this thing as weird as that sounds.

If you sit all day every day and can afford the cost I would highly recommend doing some research and picking the chair that fits you best. Include the Mirra in the list of candidates as it stacks up pretty well.

2 Responses
  1. Brad permalink
    October 27, 2010

    I’m currently trying to find the right chair… I settled on a Haworth Zody, but after the first week, I’m noticing it gives me some pain in my tailbone. I’m in the process of exchanging for either a Leap or a Mirra… I can’t decide!

    Just out of curiosity, how tall/heavy are you? I’m 6’2″, about 215 lbs. Do you find the Mirra to be so firm it leaves your tailbone aching? Would you call it firm/supportive?

    Thanks for any help/direction!

  2. October 27, 2010

    Hey Brad, I am shorter and wider, about 5’10” and 225. The Mirra is definitely pretty firm and the lumbar support is essentially a band of hard plastic that you adjust the tightness of (the base model I believe is fixed in one place). I find it fairly comfortable but realize that may not be great for everyone or for people whose back is in better shape than mine.

    The Leap was much softer though still felt pretty supportive. My personal preference was for the more spartan back piece on the Mirra but it sounds like in your case the Leap might have an edge.

    Apologies for not being super helpful. I found both to be pretty darn comfortable. Any chance you have a store nearby where you can try them out? Sam Flax only has a couple locations but I’ve heard various back stores will stock these chairs as well.

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