Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Melanie Meets Mirra: Day 7

I was coerced into doing a photo shoot today so you can look at pretty pictures of me and the Mirra Chair. Fortunately, they let me pick the spot and I chose the ,Chattanooga Nature Center - way cool! I saw a rescued hawk with one wing and heard the red wolves howling. And that was just in the parking lot. Note to self: plan an excursion to the CNC.

Gripes vs. Likes

My Mirra gripes: 1) when I plop down on the chair there is no bounce. Its like plopping down on a dining chair. Well ...a dining chair with a really comfy seat made of a suspended elastomeric material. No matter what position the pneumatic cylinder is in, high or low, the chair is not designed to spring up and down when you sit. 2) the arms could adjust a little higher for peeps like me who use them as a pseudo keyboard tray. 3) You can't pimp out the chair with leather armpads and a shiny polished aluminum or titanium base. But, the base is as least made of metal and not plastic.

Melanie and her Mirra Chair
Melanie and Mirra leave the office

My Mirra likes: 1) Mirra was green way before green was cool. Made of 42% recycled content and being 96% recyclable won Mirra a top 10 spot on BuildingGreen's best green products of 2003 list. It was the first office chair made "eco-effectively," an early approach that ensured that everything about a product was earth-friendly. 2) Not only does Mirra ease my Eco conscience, but it's pretty too. The color options are numerous and can be combined to create something boring (for those afraid to venture outside the "must buy black office chair" box) or sexy. Close your eyes and imagine: graphite frame, shadow back, citron fabric, and graphite seat. Now open them and check out our Mirra SmartDesigner to visually see the potential you can create. 3) This chair just works for me. The features like adjustable lumbar support, fully adjustable arms, tilt tension, and upholstered back provide all the benefits I would hope for in a work chair.

Melanie meets Mirra. Melanie likes Mirra. Melanie keeps Mirra (crosses fingers).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Melanie Meets Mirra: Day 6

As promised, today I talk about backs. I really like how Mirra has a wide back. The new Embody has a narrow back, designed to give you better range of motion when reclined. When you are leaned back and decide to reach for something behind you, Embody is supposed to allow you to reach and turn more easily because of the slim back. My collection of fabric swatches, product literature binders, and organic lollipops are supposed to be that much easier to reach. I find this is not the case with Embody.

The Herman Miller Mirra Chair

I like Mirra better. I really don't ever wish for a narrower back, I simply swivel in my chair. It makes the chair more like a ride at an amusement park. Why would anyone want to forego this? Swivel away! Besides, the wider back helps take pressure off your lower back. It really works. My shoulder blades "grab" the back and reclining is much more comfortable. Aeron has the wide back too, but it has hard edges. Mirra, with its TriFlex Polymer back, bends and gives freely when I go to grab that Google SketchUp for Dummies book.

The best feature that contributes to my happy back, in my humble opinion, is the tilt tension. All the high end chairs we sell (Mirra, Embody, Aeron, Leap, Think) have it. You can adjust the tension of your recline. This is huge, folks. It takes all the stress off your back when reclining and declining (a word I made up to refer to sitting back up after you finish reclining) if you have this at just the right setting for your weight and level of strength. When I get mine adjusted to my liking, reclining is like leaning back into a jacuzzi. Maybe not quite that luxurious, but there is not any resistance - like being in a swimming pool and - where your body movement is assisted by water. Declining is just as easy, and with all this stress removed from your workday, it'd be like you just got a raise. Enjoy.

Melanie hugs a cactus
The humble author... hugging a cactus

Monday, September 28, 2009

Melanie Meets Mirra: Day 5

Today we shall discuss the Mirra Chair and its effect on your butt. How your butt feels in your chair is the cornerstone of office chair comfort. Sure, there's your back, but that's tomorrow.

Mine happens to require some space. Its not enormous but it's ... grand. Mirra seems to have the perfect size seat pan for me. Not too big, not too small. The 19.5" width is just enough to house me comfortably. The 17" seat depth (without adjusting the FlexFront Seat Edge out) is right where I would want it. I am 5' 5" tall but have longer legs than than I do torso and a big hind end.

Something interesting I discovered and then came to a conclusion about: I'll start with my conclusion and work backwards. Even though all the high-end Steelcase and Herman Miller office chairs we sell are rated and warrantied to support persons 300 pounds or less, I think Herman Miller chairs (Embody, Mirra, and Aeron) are better suited for bigger and taller people. Allow me present this information. Aeron fits this bill as it can be ordered in sizes, A B or C, with C being for taller and/or larger people. Now we compare Mirra/Embody with Leap/Think. Put on your boxing gloves.

Mirra has a seat that is 19.5" wide and 17"-19" deep and Embody has a seat that is 21.5" wide and 15"-18" deep. Compare those dimensions to Steelcase Leap which has a 19.25" width and a depth that adjusts from 15.75" to 18.75". Think has a seat pan that is 19.75" wide and 15"-17" deep. The average Herman Miller chair is 20.5" wide and 16"-18.5" deep, whereas the average Steelcase chair is 19.5" wide and 15.5"-17.88" deep. On average, Herman Miller chairs are deeper and wider for your butt.

Since I have a sizable rear, I must tell you that Mirra has been rear end friendly. I do not get that numb feeling in my butt at any point during the day. Whether sitting forward, straight up, or reclined, Mirra is good to me. Thanks for sticking with me through all the technical mumbo jumbo.

But enough about butts. Tomorrow, I discuss backs.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lucky Cobi Contest Winner Writes...

Below is basically step by step action photos of a miracle. In one day of owning the Cobi chair, I have taught my human pet Trevor to finally sit after years of frustrated efforts and countless ridiculous rodeo ride reenactments. The seductive beauty, stylish lines, and lush comfort of the chair drew Trevor in like a bee to the honey! How can I ever thank you enough. To dogs everywhere with untrainable human pets, I can not recommend enough the Cobi Chair from Steelcase available from the creative genius marketing gurus of Smart Furniture. It will change your life.
-Sabre Haines, Yellow lab and writer.
(Forgive the amateur nature of the photos. Very difficult to stabilize a camera without opposable thumbs. Sabre.)
1. Not since the apple in the Garden of Eden was man so tempted...
2. Trevor circles, swivels the chair, admiring its perfect lines of design.
3. Mission Impossible now mission accomplished. He sits, in comfort, and now I Sabre am free to relax and sleep on rug without interruption.

Melanie Meets Mirra: Day 4

I had to jump through some hoops but got my fully loaded Mirra back. Can I tell you about the weight of the Mirra? 50 pounds is not light. If you are a woman (or just a wussy) and need to carry it up a flight of stairs like I did, play the chick card and ask for help. Don't hurt yourself. By the way, the Aeron is also 50 pounds and the Embody tips the scales at 62 pounds. Good chairs weigh more.

The two imperative features I sadly missed were the fully adjustable arms and lumbar support. First I tweaked those. The process of adjusting it came naturally, as though I were being reacquainted with an old friend. The arms quickly went to the highest position and I adjusted the arm pads towards my body with a one inch clearance on either side. The arm pads also pivot from the back and I adjusted those as close to me as I could, while still leaving enough clearance for the caboose when sitting down. Then for the lumbar support. I reached back and lifted up the lever on each side of the support, slid it to fit in the small of my back, and turned the tightening levers to wedge it into the small of my back.

Melanie sits
Melanie's seating situation was greatly enhanced by the addition of the Mirra Chair

Something I noticed today. Mirra is a good chair to have if you recline and task an equal amount of time. Let me explain. Reclining means ... you know what reclining means. Tasking means you are sitting straight up in the chair, not leaning back. The Aeron chair is an icon. It is great for tasking with the PostureFit Lumbar support and the pellicle suspended seat pan. It is comfortable to lean back in, but does not have the best flexibility when you are reclined. It has a hard edge that spans the perimeter of the back and does not allow for seamless flexing and twisting when reclined. Contrasting the Aeron is the Embody, the most recent addition to the Herman Miller family of chairs. Embody is designed to support you when you are reclined. Without a suspended seat pan, tasking in the Embody is less than desirable. Embody does an excellent job when you are reclined but you really need to be reclined at least 75% of the time to reap the ergonomic rewards.

In the geography of tasking and reclining, Mirra is Switzerland. It gives you the suspended Airweave seat pan and the active lumbar support (that, in my humblest unsolicited opinion, functions just like the Aeron's PostureFit support) to make tasking painless. But it also has a flexible back to allow for a better range of movement when reclined. Mirra is also a OSFA (one size fits all) chair. If you share this chair with a spouse or office mate it has the best ability to meet every one's needs. Hint: Get the FlexFront seat adjustment (which allows the seat pan to adjust from 17"-19" as opposed to a 17" fixed depth seat) if you or one of the people using the chair is over 6' tall. FYI - the Steelcase Leap chair comes standard with a 3" adjustable seat depth (15 3⁄4"–18 3⁄4") and flexible seat edge and the Steelcase Think chair comes with a 2" adjustable seat depth (15"–17") and flexible seat edge.

Ciao until tomorrow.

Mirra Chairs come in many pretty colors

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Melanie Meets Mirra: Day 3

(Looks at watch, then calendar, in anticipation of the return of the fully loaded Mirra.)

But I still have the basic model at my desk. (Fights back the tantrum.) Oh well, since I can't really talk to you about the adjustments I made, or would like to make, I thought I would take the opportunity to discuss an overlooked aspect of the Mirra chair. The color options.

This chair has the widest array of color combinations - more than those of any other chair we sell - and very few people take advantage of its vast potential. OK, so the base and frame come in graphite and shadow, a dark gray and a light gray. Nice start. The arm pad finish is either black or shadow gray, the black corresponding with the graphite frame and the shadow with the shadow frame. You could put either pad on either frame though. This chair doesn't make you stay in the box; in fact it encourages you to think outside of it.

The TriFlex back color can be selected from 8 choices, including the matching frame and base colors (graphite and shadow), or fun options like citron and felt green. Then we have the option to select the Airweave Suspension seat material. You have 8 colors all matching the back options. My recommendation would be a darker color that either matches the frame or a darker shade of the back finish. The seat of the chair will accumulate the most wear and tear when it comes to stains and general use. Getting a darker color will help to mask some of that.

Now we come to the fun part. There are 17 color options for the Latitude Fabric backs. Wow! And you don't have to match the TriFlex back if you don't want to. In fact, a contrasting selection will really set off the chair from the back. Imagine you have an alpine back with a midnight blue fabric on it. From the front all you see is the midnight blue upholstery. Swing it around and you see an alpine back with blue coming through the holes in the polymer back. Very sexy. Now imagine you have the graphite back with the citron upholstery. What is my employee discount to buy this chair? Sorry, I was falling in love with the possibilities. Oh Mirra, how colorful and beautiful you are. And you're 96% recyclable. We are a match made in heaven: smart and beautiful.

Melanie and Kona
Melanie and Kona, who also works at Smart Furniture

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Melanie Meets Mirra: Day 2

So I have bad news folks, they took my fully loaded Mirra chair. By "they" I mean our illustrious Studio staff here in Chattanooga, TN. I'm like a kid who has just been told Christmas will not happen this year. Its not pretty for a grown woman to pout. The Mirra chair I described in day 1 has been replaced with a basic $599 version. Let me take this opportunity (grrrr) to share some of the differences between the $876 version and this $599 version.

So when I initially sit in the chair the first thing I notice is that the arms are in an extremely low position. And I usually like my arms in the highest position, as I rest my arms on them in lieu of a keyboard tray when typing and mousing. I can no longer accomplish this.

Of course I can still adjust the height of the chair; it has the same pneumatic cylinder as the first chair. The Airweave suspension seat pan evenly distributes my weight across the seat pan just as the first did. Since I didn't really use the flex front seat edge adjustment the fact that its missing does not really add to my poutiness. But I probably would have missed it were I extra tall. Also, I like the chair to tilt all the way back so not having a tilt limiter didn't really affect me either. This chair still has a tilt tension knob so I am able to adjust the recline tension.

Mirra Chairs

The non-upholstered back, however, brings two things to mind. First, the Triflex polymer back feels cool on your back when you recline, which is nice in the summer but I bet not so nice in the winter. Second, having that fabric on the back adds just that little bit of cushion when reclining. I liked having it but it's not imperative.

Call the Police! Someone has stolen my lumbar support. This new chair has what they call passive PostureFit. It looks similar to the Lumbar support but does not adjust up/down or in/out to actually do much. It is supposed to "help achieve healthier posture and improved lower back comfort." I really can't see that it does anything. I'm filing a Police report for my lumbar support. I want it back.

Lesson learned: imperative options include fully adjustable arms and lumbar support. I just built the chair that would suffice for me on our Mirra SmartDesigner and it is priced at $758. I'm not as high maintenance as I thought.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Melanie Meets Mirra: Day 1

Melanie Silva of Smart Furniture

I finally get to review a chair. Woo hoo! I only hope I will be objective, yet critical, and most of all helpful if you are looking to purchase an office chair. This particular Mirra chair has fully adjustable arms, lumbar support, flex front seat edge, tilt limiter and the upholstered back. All I am missing is the seat angle adjustment and the fire retardant fabric upgrade. I don't smoke, so hopefully my office-mate's candle burning will not catch my Mirra chair on fire.

I usually adjust the height first, putting everything as low as it can go, as I have a desk 28.5" high. Most desks are 29" - 30.5" in height. Once I get that right, I play with the seat depth. It says "your thighs should be comfortably supported and the front edge of the seat should not press against the back of your legs." No matter which setting I use the above is true. So I put it in the middle somewhere.

Tilt tension is the next thing I toy with. Depending on your weight and strength this adjustment will come easily. I like more resistance than less as I lightly bounce up and down when reclined. If the resistance isn't just right you cannot partake in this office chair fiddling. You can skip the ab workout at the gym if you do it enough.

The tilt limiter has 3 settings: no tilt, a little tilt, a lot of tilt. I like the most tilt I can get. Makes me feel as though I'm napping while on the phone. Remember, I don't have a seat angle adjustment but if I did I'm not sure I would use it. It allows the seat pan to tilt forward by 4 degrees. Since I don't have one my seat pan is horizontal. I have no idea why you would use this feature. After a quick Google search I discover "forward tilt position is used with increased chair height. This relaxes the bend of the waist, knees and ankles." Interesting ... a feature for tall people. Since I am 5' 5" tall I don't need it after all.

Herman Miller Mirra Chair

Arms seem easy to adjust, right? No. I couldn't figure out how to adjust the armpads side to side. The height of the arms was a piece of cake, lift the tabs on either side and move them up and down. I like them pretty high; do I have short arms? They pivot from the back, either closer to your body or farther away, an Imperative Feature for arms. They also, however, slide in and out with the push of a button. I knew they did as one was all the way out and the other all the way in so I felt lopsided. There is a hidden button on the inside of each armpad that allows you to adjust this. All you do is push on the cushion of the armpad and in and out it goes.

Finally, the lumbar support. It really is a combination of PostureFit on Aeron and a lumbar support. Lumbar support is designed to support the small of your back when reclined. The PostureFit supports when tasking or sitting straight up. This Mirra chair lumbar support seems to do both very well. You adjust it up and down as well as in and out. I put it in the small of my back and adjusted it in until I felt it giving me adequate support. Lean back. Ahhhhh.

And the journey begins...