An Ode to the Aeron
February 3, 2001 7:30 AM   Subscribe

An Ode to the Aeron -- Something good may come out of the dotcom collapse at last! As they all go belly up, having lavished lots of their venture capital on $2000 office chairs, will the rest of us finally be able to afford these marvels of office architecture, even if we do have to settle for them being used?
posted by crunchland (27 comments total)
If you really need a $2000 dollar office chair to do your job, than you might as well just stay in bed and not go to work.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 10:36 AM on February 3, 2001

You obviously haven't sat in one, skull...
posted by thebigpoop at 10:53 AM on February 3, 2001

whoa! that's what an aeron chair is? I'm sitting in one right now, in the library of my small (but wealthy) college. it's nice, but two thousand dollars? honestly if that's what dotcoms are spending their money on, how did they not expect to run out of it?
posted by rabi at 10:54 AM on February 3, 2001

Rabi, a standard model does not cost $2k.

I still lust after an Aeron, especially now that I've been layed off and have my crappy home desk chair to do all my freelance work from. I keep cruising ebay looking for those castoffs that I can afford. They truly are very comfortable and help your posture. It's worth it to keep from getting painful kinks in your back. 'Course, now that I'm freelance, I'm able to get up out of my chair and head outdoors anytime I want.
posted by amanda at 11:03 AM on February 3, 2001

Rabi, a standard model does not cost $2k.

True. They only cost $1000. Which is insane for a chair. Rabi is spot on about these Aerons being the main symbol of dotcom arrogance and greed.
posted by aaron at 11:24 AM on February 3, 2001

There are really two Aeron models. The Basic model retails for around $550-650. The Classic model, with more adjustable points, retails for around $750-850 (one retailer indicates the MSRP is $1150, though). In many cases you can find them discounted. The side chair (no casters, metal frame a bit like a lawn chair) has an MSRP of $799 and retails around $500.

I could find no Aeron chairs that retail for $2000.

Used Aerons on Ebay are still pretty steep. I think I would make sure it's the the model I think I'm getting first, though!

By the way, the Aeron is the official chair of office hockey. [warning: cheesy imitation Matrix photography]
posted by dhartung at 11:26 AM on February 3, 2001

funny. at my recently defunct startup, we were able to find a deal on aerons at $506 a piece - not $2000. if we paid for a good percentage of the chair, we were welcome to keep it upon departure from the firm. i believe the ceo's view was that he would either be paying for ergonomic furniture or rsi related physical therapy.
posted by wade at 11:31 AM on February 3, 2001

Here's a good article on the Aeron & other high-end chairs. If I had to pull 60 or 80 hrs. a week in a cubicle, I would not consider the Aeron an extravagance!
posted by gimli at 11:40 AM on February 3, 2001

yet more proof that west michigan is, as rolling stone says, the real center of geek culture. we've got the chairs, we've got slashdot, so pfft.
posted by dagnyscott at 11:55 AM on February 3, 2001

Them Aeron chairs are really swell. The mesh lets your ass and back breathe when you're on those all night coding trips to Australia (props to Microserfs for the literary reference).

There's nothing worse than peeling yourself off an office chair in the summertime - Aerons help prevent that most unpleasant of experiences.
posted by aladfar at 12:36 PM on February 3, 2001

I'm sitting in an Aeron right now, my personal desk chair, that I've had for over a year now. I sit at my desk 40+ hours a week and find having a chair like this indespensible. I have the fully loaded model which retails for $750, not $2000.

Once you use an Aeron or other high-end office chair, you won't want to go back. When I first got the chair I would sit in it for about a week, then sit in my dad's run of the mill office chair. The difference is amazing. The regular office chair felt like I was sitting on a concrete bench with cardboard for padding.

The damn chair is just smooth all around. It reacts to your every movement, as if you and it combined to form a whole peice. Hard to explain, but the balance on this chair is excellent. I sit in my old executive leather chair once in a while and my ass sweats like a gorilla. The mesh material is excellent for keeping your skin fresh and gently supporting your body.

Just wanted to let you guys know it's worth the $750 if you have the money. I luckily got mine free of charge, a perk of my job. I've also heard good things about steelcase's leap chair but have never tried one.
posted by physics at 12:38 PM on February 3, 2001

I really don't think buying a $1k chair qualifies "the main symbol of dot-com arrogance and greed." If a company is paying someone ~$100k/year or whatever to work there, spending an extra 1% of that to ensure that the person is actually comfortable is a pretty good deal. Trying to save a few hundred bucks on a chair would be like buying a Mercedes and skipping oil changes to save cash.

posted by mcguirk at 1:49 PM on February 3, 2001

i don't know who was paying $2k for an aeron, but they've always sold for under $800 at

i got mine slightly used from eBay about a year ago. i paid $600. i considered it an investment. after a year's use, i could probably still sell it for close to what i paid for it.

sure, it's a status symbol. but that's not why i bought it -- i bought it because i was tired of giving a substantial portion of my annual income to my chiropractor.

but be careful, guys ... i have a male friend who used to use a regular chair, and he swears the air-circulation from the mesh on his aeron made him more fertile. he has two kids now. ;-)
posted by shauna at 1:54 PM on February 3, 2001

If a company is paying someone ~$100k/year or whatever to work there...

And they're all out of business now, too. Hmmmm.
posted by aaron at 2:38 PM on February 3, 2001

So you're suggesting that a dot-com with the typical lack of viable business plan, but which paid everyone less than market rates and used cheaper chairs, would have survived? That's one theory, I guess.

posted by mcguirk at 5:56 PM on February 3, 2001

And they're all out of business now, too.

aaron, a comment like that makes me think you don't know the first thing about the current tech job market.
posted by Neb at 10:05 PM on February 3, 2001

$750 or even $1000 is not out of line to pay for a piece of furniture you sit in 2000 or more hours a year. You could easily pay that much for a chair you'd put in your living room, why not for your office?

Back when I was freelancing, I discovered that the length of time a chair would last was approximately proportional to the number of hundreds of dollars I spent on it. The $100 cheapie I got at Office Depot broke within a year, as did the next one. The next one cost $300 and lasted, you guessed it, about three years. I got anther $100 recently because I don't have the money for an Aeron right now but intend to by the time this one breaks. ;) Of course I'm only working at home part-time now since I took the day job.

Speaking of the day job, we have some pretty craptacular chairs at our new office, which we moved into last November. The chairs were new then and several of them are already broken.

A good chair that lasts ten years is easily worth $750. Since you'll pay that eventually, why not just pay it up front and get one that's maximally ergonomic, like the Aeron?
posted by kindall at 10:22 PM on February 3, 2001

Because I'm a prisoner of poor cash flow.
posted by rodii at 8:48 AM on February 4, 2001

kindall --

I'm sorry, but how do you break office chairs? Maybe too much office hockey (nod to dhartung, above)?

I've never broken an office chair ... even the cheap $50 office depot kind. But, hey, maybe I need to start trying ... that way I could justify an Aeron to my wife.

posted by aaronchristy at 10:56 AM on February 4, 2001

how do you break office chairs?

First, be 6'3" and 275 pounds... second, sit in it 16 hours a day. Things that broke include the reclining mechanism and the arms on the base.

OK, maybe my experience isn't typical. ;) But, I will say I haven't sat in any of the chairs at the office that are broken.
posted by kindall at 11:30 AM on February 4, 2001

"Rabi is spot on about these Aerons being the main symbol of dotcom arrogance and greed."

While I would agree with the underlying sentiment regarding dotcom arrogance and greed, I don't consider the purchase of an Aeron to be unreasonable.

I know people who spend most of their day, and some of the night, working on computers. The benefits of a good chair may not be that noticeable now, but will likely save you money eventually. Money spent on a good chair and bed may well save you and society thousands down the track, and that is not taking into account the effects on yourself and your family of the painful and sometimes intractable conditions that the body can fall prey to.

Has anyone ever tried an Aeron and found it didn't suit them? Iv never heard anything but good about the chair (which is unusual) so I’d be interested to hear if anyone has found them to be less than ideal.
posted by lucien at 9:31 PM on February 4, 2001 last job gave me a C-size Aeron. I'm 6'5", 215 pounds, and the extra seat length made a HUGE difference in my comfort.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:06 AM on February 5, 2001


I am currently accepting donations for a very worthy charity called "Let's get crunchland into an Aeron before St. Valentine's Day."
posted by crunchland at 7:21 AM on February 5, 2001

Sitting in my Aeron as I post, I note that there is no other way for an arthritic old critter like myself to spend hours in front of a computer. I forget that sitting for long periods hurts when I'm here -- and if I can have that pleasure, then why not for the techheads who really needed it?

Crunchland, why not put up Paypal donate buttons on your site, and start a campaign like (unnamed dotcom startup) did to raise funds to buy (unnamed dotcom equipment)?
posted by Dreama at 8:18 AM on February 5, 2001

Has anyone ever tried an Aeron and found it didn't suit them?

Yup. Maybe I just haven't figured out to adjust it correctly, but I've spent the last week in an Aeron chair, and each day my back ached terribly. I keep having problems with the edge of the seat putting pressure on my legs and making them go to sleep. (A footrest would probably help.) And, this office is kept rather cool, so I'm constantly cold, since the mesh does nothing to trap my body heat the way a padded chair would.

(Fyi- this isn't my home chair. It came with the new job)
posted by phichens at 9:24 AM on February 5, 2001

I keep having problems with the edge of the seat putting pressure on my legs and making them go to sleep.

It sounds like the one you have is too small for you -- they come in three sizes (A, B, C).

I typically am comfortable in a medium (B) and when I've sat in a large for any length of time, my back hurts because the seat's too deep, which puts the backrest too far away. "Sleeping legs" might mean your chair's too narrow.
posted by shauna at 12:35 PM on February 5, 2001

Ah, I'll have to look into that. Thanks, Shauna!
posted by phichens at 2:14 PM on February 6, 2001

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