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Herman Miller Sayl office chair review: I’ll Sayl away with you

The Herman Miller Sayl office chair is a masterwork of comfort and ergonomics. It costs a lot, but if you can afford it, there aren't many better options.

The Herman Miller Sayl chair in an office

Our Verdict

If you want an office chair that provides loads of options for easy adjustment, is comfortable, breezy, ergonomic, and supportive, then the Herman Miller Sayl is the one to go for. The advanced Elastomer mesh back means that you keep cool even when sitting on it for eight hours on a summer day and it’s so simple for you to perfectly match it to the unique shape of your body. It’s expensive, but with a build of this quality and a warranty that guarantees it’ll last 12 years, it’s easy to justify the price point.

Reasons to buy
  • Comfortable and ergonomic
  • No assembly required
  • Easily adjustable
Reasons to avoid
  • Expensive
  • Tension knob doesn’t do much

If you’re looking for something that can double as an office chair and a gaming chair, look no further than the Herman Miller Sayl. For me, it ticks every box: it’s comfortable, it has plenty of ergonomic features, it stays cool even on hot days, it wheels around nicely, and it’s not ugly.

It’s one of the best gaming and office chairs, easily the most comfortable chair I’ve ever sat on for eight hours. When released in 2010, the Sayl won the Product Design of the Year award at the International Design Awards. That it remains on the market in the same form well over a decade later is a testament to its quality. I bet there are even people who bought it then and are still happily using it now.

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At $1150 (£730) it’s an expensive chair, but each chair is made to order (with many options for customization as you make your choice). The iconic design has had so much thought put into it in terms of comfort and ergonomics, the difference between it and cheaper chairs is night and day. There are more expensive options from Herman Miller, such as the Cosm chairs, which have very advanced designs that mold themselves to the shape of your body, and actively adjust to support you in real-time, but barring things like that, this is one of the best on the market.


Herman Miller Sayl specs:

Maximum weight 159kg
Recline 45 degrees
Upholstery Glass-reinforced nylon, die-cast aluminum frame, and Polyurethane foam seat cushion
Warranty 12 years
Weight 18.1kg
Height 959 – 1035mm

A person sitting in the Herman Miller Sayl office chair


Created by esteemed industrial designer, Yves Béhar, the Herman Miller Sayl chair was inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (Béhar’s home). His goal was to take the engineering principles behind the concept of a suspension bridge and use them to create a chair that provided the most support in the areas where it was most needed with a soft mesh back. As far as I’m concerned, he succeeded, because this chair is extremely supportive.

But let’s look at the aesthetics (and you can even kind of see the Golden Gate Bridge inspiration here if you’re looking for it). For me, this isn’t a huge deciding factor, but you may feel differently. The Sayl is comprised mostly of white, black, and gray materials, giving it a mild and inoffensive look that should fit in well in most rooms. If you’re set on a particular color, you’ll be pleased to hear that Herman Miller offers some variety. You can choose between a black or a white frame/back, and then from a selection of pastel colors (including shades of blue, green, brown, and more).

If you’re looking for something with neon colors, designs based on the best PC games, or even RGB lighting, this chair isn’t going to be for you. That isn’t to say it looks bad by any means, but it doesn’t fall into a category that some gaming community members like to have for their game rooms. Still, the Herman Miller Sayl will fit seamlessly into more rooms than a neon green Minecraft Creeper RGB gaming chair would.

The back of the Herman Miller Sayl office chair

I’ve sat on many office chairs in my time, and you can tell the difference between a quality product and something manufactured as cheaply as possible. The Sayl office chair is the former. The frame is made from glass-reinforced nylon and aluminum and the fabric is 100% wool (unless you get the Remix 3 fabric, which is 90% wool, 10% nylon), while the cushion is polyurethane foam. It feels more durable than the flimsy plastics found in cheaper chairs.

My favorite thing about the design is the back though. It’s made of a rubbery mesh called Elastomer that keeps your back feeling cool even on hot summer days. If you’ve ever been working on a swelteringly hot day with your back slowly getting hotter and hotter as it’s pressed against the back of a leather office chair, you’ll know what a relief this kind of mesh can be. It always feels comfortably cool, but that doesn’t mean it’s too chilly in the winter either.

As an added flourish, the wheels on the bottom are perfectly agile. Have you ever tried to glide across to a colleague in your chair, only for the wheels to get caught, or not turn properly? Well, that’s not a problem with this one. It handles like a dream, with the wheels working smoothly across fine carpet and hard floor.

No time to build it? No need to worry – the Herman Miller Sayl comes pre-assembled, which is a relief considering its complicated design. However, this does present the major downside of making it harder to carry up or down stairs, or through awkward spaces. You have to measure more than just the space it’ll occupy to avoid any unpleasant surprises on the day.

The Herman Miller Sayl office chair up-close


I am a very tall person with a sensitive back. If I don’t have appropriate seating, my back can go stiff, start aching, or seize up. After three years of using the Herman Miller Sayl, this has never happened. I remember one day I had to sit in another chair and, gosh, my back ached for about three days afterward. Sayl doesn’t have this effect on me because of the chair’s wide selection of ergonomic adjustments.

The chair allows for a very deep recline (you’re practically lying down with it) but if you like to try and sit up straight while working or gaming (like I do), it has a handy feature called a tilt limiter. You turn a little lever on the underside and then the chair locks its current position as the furthest it will recline. It’s one of many ways to make the chair right for your unique body shop.

The side of the Herman Miller Sayl office chair

The arms can also easily be adjusted to be as high or low as you need. Too often, I find that office chairs don’t let you put the arms low enough to slide them under desks and while this is partially down to the height of desks too, I find that these arms go down low enough that a desk would have to be pretty low to stop them. The chair’s height is easy to adjust too, and ranges from 419 – 559mm.

If it ever feels like you’re not getting enough back support, you can change the depth of the seat by pulling on a lever. Likewise, if you want a more leisurely position, you can very easily have it shunted outward so that there is plenty of room for you to stretch out against the back. There’s also adjustable lumbar support behind the mesh. You can slide it up or down to sit in the right place.

All of the Herman Miller Sayl adjustment features are so intuitive that I figured them out without ever having to read instructions – except one thing. The chair features a tension knob which you can turn to increase or decrease the strength with which the backrest pushes back against you. In theory, this should affect the ease with which you can lean back and use the recline – will it fall easily, or go down slowly as you lean? Well, I didn’t notice much difference whenever I used the knob – maybe I have a forceful lean.

The back of the Herman Miller Sayl office chair


The specific chair that I am reviewing is over three years old. Despite this, from the looks of it, you wouldn’t know that it hadn’t been bought just a month or so ago. I find that office chairs tend not to age so gracefully, and if you’re tired of dealing with frayed fabrics and discolored materials, then the Sayl’s eternal youth is very appealing. This is especially impressive considering its back is a white mesh, and white is usually the first color to spoil.

The tilt limiter is one feature that performs especially well. I’ve had more than one chair give me the startling experience of suddenly reclining even though it was supposed to be locked to a specific degree. It’s pretty stressful, but the Sayl tilt limiter is reliable whenever I use it.

The height adjustment lever is pretty fantastic too. Do you ever pull the lever to lower your chair, and then feel yourself hurtling towards the Earth at what feels like a thousand miles an hour? Well, this one gives you a smooth and pleasant descent that makes it easy to stop at just the right height for you.

The lumbar support and the arm adjustments also work exactly as they should and stay in place until you choose to adjust them again. It all speaks to the overall quality of the chair. The only exception (which I mentioned above) is the tension knob, which is supposed to change the level of resistance you feel when leaning back, but barely feels like it makes any difference.

If the Sayl Office Chair isn’t for you

If you’re looking for something a little different, take a look at these recommendations:


If you can afford the Herman Miller Sayl office chair, I say go and get it, because the levels of comfort and support are unrivaled. It’s been a popular choice for home offices and workplaces for the last fourteen years and there’s no reason it can’t work just as well for a games room. Each chair is made to order, so you can make it your own, and then once it arrives, you can adjust it so that it matches your body shop. I love it and have never felt more supported by a chair.