Sayl Chair Review: A Comprehensive Guide to Ergonomic Excellence

Ergonomic Chair Reviews and Comparisons

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By Union Chair

As remote work becomes increasingly common, having an ergonomic office chair is more important than ever for health, comfort, and productivity. The Herman Miller Sayl chair has generated significant buzz in recent years as a stylish, adjustable, and budget-friendly option compared to Herman Miller’s flagship Aeron chair.

But does the Sayl chair live up to its promises of ergonomic excellence? This comprehensive review will examine the Sayl’s key features, pros and cons, and how it compares to other popular office chairs.

Overview of the Sayl Chair

Designed by Yves Béhar, the Sayl chair was first released in 2007 with the goal of making high-quality ergonomic seating more affordable and accessible. Its distinctive 3D Intelligent® back is made from a flexible polymer frame stretched across a breathable elastomer fabric. This allows the back to flex and stretch to match the natural movements of your spine.

Other notable features of the Sayl chair include:

  • Adjustable tilt tension – Customize the amount of effort needed to recline
  • Forward tilt – Tilt the seat pan forward for perching or collaborating
  • Adjustable arms – Change the height, width, depth and pivot of the armrests
  • Adjustable lumbar support – Dial in vertical support for your lower back
  • Tilt lock – Lock the current tilt angle in place if desired

The Sayl is available in various upholstery options and colors, though the full mesh back and woven seat come standard. At just $495 MSRP, it’s substantially more affordable than Herman Miller’s higher-end chairs.

So how does this innovative budget chair actually perform? Let’s dig into the details.

Sayl Chair
Sayl Chair

Adjustability and Customization

A major selling point of the Sayl is its extensive adjustability to accommodate different body types and work styles. Nearly everything on the chair can be customized:

  • Seat Height – Adjusts from 15″-20″ high to fit most heights
  • Seat Depth – Slide the seat pan forward/back up to 2″
  • Arm Width – Change width between 17.75″ to 20.75″ apart
  • Lumbar Support – Dial adjusts height and depth to target lower back
  • Tilt Tension – Control the effort needed to recline the backrest

Testing indicates the adjustment levers are intuitive to use and allow the chair to adapt well for people ranging from petite to tall/large frames. The chair accommodates weights up to 300 lbs, though very tall users over 6’4” may find it too compact.

The Sayl makes it easy to customize your fit and achieve proper ergonomic alignment, which is essential for all-day comfort.

Comfort and Ergonomics

The Sayl receives high marks for comfort thanks to its flexible backrest and high-quality upholstery options. The elastomer fabric and polymer spine flex naturally to mimic your back’s shape as you move. This provides dynamic lumbar support without the need for complicated adjustments.

The breathable mesh keeps you cool during long hours at the computer. The standard seat upholstery features a 3D woven suspension fabric that flexes to evenly distribute weight. It feels taut and supportive for perching forward, while allowing you to comfortably recline during pauses.

Arm comfort is excellent thanks to 4D adjustability and supple upholstery that doesn’t pinch like hard plastic. The contoured arm pads can be positioned at the perfect height and width for typing comfort.

The Sayl makes it easy to achieve proper ergonomic alignment:

  • Feet flat on the floor or foot rest
  • Thighs parallel to the ground
  • Lumbar curve supported
  • Shoulders relaxed with arms at your sides
  • Head level with monitor screen

This takes pressure off your back, shoulders, and legs to avoid discomfort even when sitting for prolonged periods.

The Sayl isn’t as cushy soft as chairs like the Steelcase Leap or Humanscale Freedom due to its taut upholstery. However, reviewers generally agree the comfort level is impressive for the price. The Sayl received a 2022 COBYS Ergonomics Award for advancing accessibility to quality ergonomic seating.

Build Quality and Reliability

The Sayl chair features high-quality components and thoughtful engineering you’d expect from a premium ergonomic chair. The chair is rated to support 300 pounds of weight over thousands of use cycles.

The base and frame utilize durable nylon and glass-reinforced materials that feel solid and prevent wobbling. Sturdy casters roll smoothly across all common flooring types without catching. Lever adjustments provide crisp tactile feedback when changing settings.

The back features a 3D suspension back frame made from flexible polymer plastic. This “unframed back” is pulled taut across a breathable elastomer fabric. It flexes naturally with your movements but rebounds consistently to provide dynamic lumbar support. This innovative approach minimizes materials for sustainability while keeping weight manageable at just 37 pounds.

The Sayl is backed by Herman Miller’s impressive 12-year warranty that covers everything including casters, upholstery, and structural components. The company has a decades-long reputation for building chairs that last over 10+ years under commercial use.

While the Sayl isn’t quite as rugged as all-metal chairs, it incorporates clever engineering and quality materials that instill confidence in its long-term durability.

Style and Customization

The Sayl chair features an eye-catching design aesthetic thanks to its distinctive unframed back and geometric styling accents. The “Y”-styled frame comes in several color options to match your preferences and workspace decor.

Herman Miller offers dozens of upholstery combinations to choose from. The standard Sayl includes a dark color frame with full mesh back and woven seat fabric. You can upgrade to partial mesh, leather, or other fabrics for a premium. Arm pads and lumbar pads are also available in alternative colors.

While style is subjective, most reviewers praise the Sayl for looking much more stylish and modern compared to boxy traditional task chairs. The translucent back and slender profile give it an airy, minimalist aesthetic. If you want an ergonomic chair that looks as good as it feels, the Sayl is a compelling option.

Sayl Chair vs. Aeron Chair

As Herman Miller’s budget-friendly offering, the Sayl makes some expected compromises compared to the iconic $1,000+ Aeron chair. The Aeron is heavier and feels more sturdy thanks to its all-metal frame and mesh construction. It offers more customization with additional lumbar and posture adjustments.

However, the Sayl offers comparable comfort and adjustments for nearly half the cost. Unless you require the Aeron’s heavier-duty construction for very intensive use, the Sayl gets you 75% of the way there for a lot less money. Given the price difference, the Sayl is generally considered a better value for cost-conscious shoppers that still want excellent ergonomics.

The Bottom Line

The Herman Miller Sayl chair punches above its weight class, offering premium ergonomic adjustments and all-day comfort at an attractive price. While it may not match the Aeron’s ruggedness or extreme customization, it outperforms most chairs under $1,000. If you want stylish, adjustable, and sustainable seating without breaking the bank, the Sayl chair is a top choice for mesh office chairs. Just be aware that the standard Sayl may not have enough padding for users that prefer plush, cushioned seats over a firmer sit.

Overall, the Sayl chair stands out with:


  • Innovative flexible back for ergonomic lumbar support
  • Highly adjustable to fit nearly all body sizes
  • Excellent warranty covers everything for 12 years
  • Very affordable for a feature-packed ergonomic chair
  • Sleek, modern style fits most workspaces


  • Limited padding isn’t as plush as some chairs
  • Lower weight rating than heavy duty task chairs
  • Arm pads run narrow for larger frames
  • Lumbar support feels less pronounced than Aeron

If you’re looking for exceptional ergonomic performance while staying under budget, the Sayl by Herman Miller is a compelling choice. Just be sure to utilize the adjustment features to customize the fit to your needs. Used properly, the Sayl can make long work days far more comfortable.

What makes the Sayl Chair unique in its design?

The Sayl Chair’s design is inspired by the engineering of suspension bridges, particularly the Golden Gate Bridge, giving it a distinctive aesthetic and functional advantage.

How does the Sayl Chair cater to sustainability?

The Sayl Chair is constructed using eco-friendly materials, including ocean-bound plastic, aligning with Herman Miller’s commitment to sustainability.

Can the Sayl Chair be customized for different body types?

Yes, the Sayl Chair offers various adjustable features, including seat height, depth, tilt, lumbar height, and armrest adjustments, making it suitable for a wide range of body types.

How does the Sayl Chair compare in terms of price with other Herman Miller models?

The Sayl Chair is positioned as a more affordable option within the Herman Miller range, offering a balance of quality and value.

Is the Sayl Chair suitable for long hours of use?

Absolutely. The Sayl Chair is designed for comfort and support during extended periods of use, making it ideal for both office and home environments.

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