Herman Miller Sayl Ergonomic Work Chair Review
This is the Sayl, and it is Herman Miller's newest family of work chairs. I say family because in addition to being available in various colors and trims, the chair itself is literally available in a lot of different styles with various options, etc... What each of the Sayl chairs share is the "suspension" style chair back with the "Y" frame design. This design is based loosely on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco where chair designer Yves Behar lives. I too live in San Francisco, and wouldn't have seen the design connection unless you explained it to me - but now I see it, and smirk at the similarity between the back of the chair and the curve of the cables from the bridge's suspension towers.
Compared to the last Herman Miller chair that I reviewed (the Setu), the Sayl is totally different. Herman Miller classified the Setu as a "task" chair. The team they worked with to design it cleverly made it auto-adjust to people so it could be used by any number of people - all you did was adjust the height. The Sayl is a return to good ol' fashioned highly-adjustable chairs that allow the owner to "make it their own." The benefit of the Sayl is the price and the seat back. If the Sayl borrows any inspiration from the Setu, it is in the back of the chair. Not in the look of it, but in the fact that it is designed to conform to the person sitting in it without adjustment (there are however versions of the Sayl with various chair back adjustments for height and lumbar support). Most of the adjustments are in the seat and the reclining aspect of the back.
As the Sayl combines both manually adjustable features and ones that are meant to conform to the person sitting on it, I consider it a sort of hybrid work chair - and in that it succeeds. At first the design is a bit strange looking, but its merits show themselves rather quickly. Like all Herman Miller chairs the construction quality and materials are very impressive. If you are used to cheaper desk chairs and switch to a Herman Miller, you'll be impressed.
It all starts with the assembly. This is usually an arduous task and for the Sayl it is painless. Step one, place the seat of the chair on the base. Step two, sit down. That is it - so construction is a virtual non-issue. Ergonomic chairs are often very heavy. While the Sayl isn't as light as the Setu, it is relatively light given all the pieces it has. Speaking of pieces, according to Herman Miller, something like 80-90% of the Sayl is made of recyclable materials - I was pretty impressed by that.
OK, so enough of all these little details, how does it feel? Pretty good it turns out, and the efforts of Mr. Behar really pay off in the special suspension seat back. Unlike those that use mesh fabric, the Sayl uses a rubbery material that is soft and smooth on skin or clothes. It has a welcome bounce to it, and will help keep you cool because of the ventilation (really, that isn't just a gimmick). The tension of the material feels just right, being stretchy enough to be comfortable, but tense enough to support you. The "lip" design at the bottom of the chairback is part of that function in case you were wondering why needs to jet-out so much.
Aside from an overall designer look, the rest of the Setu is pretty standard desk chair fare. The chair height is adjustable, and you adjust the tilt and tension thereof. You can lock the back into various angles, and you have two inches of adjustability in the depth of the seat. On this model the armrests simply move up and down. I would note that they are a bit stubby in size, but if you want them to be bigger and have more adjustment options, Herman Miller has you covered with other versions of the Sayl.
The Sayl offers a unique sitting experience compared to the other Herman Miller ergonomic desk chairs, and is certainly less expensive. It is comfortable, and in line with the reputation the brand has worked hard to build. There is also the appreciated 'Yves Behar "touch' that finds itself in the unique appearance and little details. The slick design of the Sayl will help make an office more modern feeling, and the features are welcome, but not at all overwhelming like those on some other office chairs. How do you know if the Sayl is right for you? By sitting in them and testing them out. No one work chair is right for everyone, but for the many people who will find the Sayl comfy, I say happily leap into its lap.
Learn more about the Herman Miller Sayl or buy one here.
Ariel Adams publishes the wrist watch reviews site aBlogtoRead.com.
Thanks to Herman Miller for the sample unit. Opinions are 100% independent.
Gallery: Herman Miller Sayl Chair