Long-Term Review: Herman Miller Setu Chairs

We’ve had our Herman Miller Setu Office chairs for exactly 9 months today, so I thought that may be a good enough milestone to warrant a long-term review.

When we were in the spirit of redesigning our office we ordered a pair of Setu Chairs from Smartfurniture.com in the following configuration…

  • Studio White Frame
  • Lyris Slate Grey Upholstery
  • Ribbon Arms
  • Five-star Aluminum Base
  • Translucent Casters (we have hardwood floors in the office)
  • Standard Height (we’re both about 5’8″)
We ordered from Smartfurniture because they were competitive on price, offered free shipping, a fantastic return policy and I experienced great customer service in all my exchanges with them.  What more can you ask for?
Because the chairs are built to order, it took about 6 weeks from date of the order until the chairs showed up on our door step.  They arrived well-packed from Herman Miller, and assembly was just a one-step process of attaching the chair to the aluminum base.  It helped that Christy was there to guide me, but it could have easily been done by one person.
After they were locked and loaded we rolled them into our office and twisted, turned, and rocked.  Our immediate impression was that these chairs are high-quality.  No imperfections on the base or frame, and everything moved smoothly and responded with ease.  We’re thinking the Herman Miller firm runs some tight quality control.
The back of the chairs is made of a knitted mesh that is stretched tight and feels nice and reaffirming to the back.  Lean back in the chairs and you can feel the innovative molded spine do its work.  It really feels good, and provides a firm but relaxing stretch across your back.
9 months later and that material is just as firm and tight as it was brand new.  And close inspection of the mesh shows no sign of wear or stress (and keep in mind that we have a cat that loves to steal these when we walk away from our seat for a few moments).
When we ordered the chairs we debated getting the Ribbon Arms feature, but I’m glad we did because I often find myself resting my arms on them as I read blogs or talk on the phone. They aren’t very obtrusive either, and still allow Christy to sit cross-legged in the chair (a habit of hers).  The arms are removable as well, by loosening a screw on each side in case your tastes change.  As you might expect, getting the arms in Studio White like we did requires a bit more maintenance and I’ve noticed my chair begins showing dirt more quickly than Christy’s.  But a rigorous wipe with a damp cloth picks up all residue and they look brilliant again.
We have hardwood floors, so we ordered the casters option.  The casters have a softness to them as to not scuff up the floor they sit on and the wheels roll smooth and quietly.  No squeaks and no resistance or wobble.  Just really well-made and well-executed pieces.
To say the least, Christy and I are really satisfied with our splurge for some well-made, and ergonomic office chairs.  We get the feeling these will last through the years and serve as a necessary and functional design element to our office (they’re just cool to look at).  We also don’t have any qualms about the low-back variety Setu chairs being able to hold up to long work hours and extended use.  We sit in these about 8-9 hours a day, 5 days a week at a minimum and they don’t let us down.  These chairs won’t do miracles for your posture at the office (I still find myself forward leaning at the monitor to read things up close), but they will definitely offer some improvement, especially when you get in the habit of leaning back and letting the spine do it work.
If you are in the market for a new office chair, see if there is a local Herman Miller store in your area and try one out.  If you like what you feel and see there, I’m willing to bet you’ll love using them full-time in your space.  In fact, I’m tempted to recommend any Herman Miller piece because the quality of these chairs was so stellar.

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