Custom Herman Miller Aeron
I’ve worked in an office since I was fifteen year old. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the Herman Miller Aeron — and for as long as I can remember, I couldn’t bring myself to pay the price associated with it.
Fast-forward to present day where I've reached the point — both mentally, and physically — in feeling comfortable with the investment in a high quality office chair.
It appeared from looking online, and walking around my local Herman Miller retailer, the Aeron came in roughly four standard combinations.
After looking at all the different frame/base options, I immediately knew the combination I wanted — Graphite / Satin Aluminum.
Unfortunately, this combination wasn't offered in the retail store or online — so I decided to reach out to Herman Miller directly.
The associate I spoke with at Herman Miller pointed me to the Aeron Product Configurator. The configurator allows far more combinations than are offered in retail stores or online — the caveat being having to call and order from Herman Miller directly.
Even with the configurator, the combination I was looking for still wasn't possible.
As a last resort, the Herman Miller associate gave me the contact information for a local authorized dealer, The Sheridan Group, to see if there was anything that could be done.
The Sheridan Group
I called and spoke with a gentleman by the name of Vince, and explained I was looking for a combination of the Aeron that wasn't offered. I knew it was a long-shot, but I wondered if there was anything they could do to make it happen.
To my surprise, Vince responded with:
"Not a problem. You’d be surprised, we do one-off orders for a lot of folks."
Trying not to get my hopes up, I described in far more detail what I was looking for. Over the course of the next few days, we chatted via email and phone about all the possible options to get exactly what I was looking for.
Once Vince and I talked through everything at length, went over the mocks I put together, and were on the same page with exactly what I envisioned with the chair, he let me know there were two possible options for us to take:
- He could reach out to his manufacturing contact at Herman Miller to see if they could build a one-off custom Aeron.
- Order the Aeron in the Graphite / Graphite combination, as well as order replacement parts in Mineral / Satin Aluminum. Then have The Sheridan Group swap out parts to create exactly the combination I was looking for. The downside being additional cost and left-over original parts.
In the back of my head I wasn’t expecting Herman Miller to build a one-off, and after a few days my suspicion was confirmed with their response to Vince:
"The Satin Aluminum [SNA] chassis has integral components that coordinate with Mineral [VPR] frame. Due to manufacturing tooling and assembly constraints, these internal components cannot be converted to Graphite. For this reason, we respectfully decline the request and the alternative is to use standard finish combinations.”
This didn't mean it couldn't be done — it simply meant from a manufacturing standpoint, they weren't going to build a one-off. So with that news, we went ahead and proceeded with option two.
We chose to build off the Graphite / Graphite combination for very good reason. One, it was actually the cheapest route, and two, it came down to warranty.
Because we’d be ordering replacement parts from Herman Miller to build the chair to my design specifications, only the original parts would be covered under the 12-year warranty, where the replacement parts would carry a 3-year warranty.
The most expensive components — and most likely to wear out first — would probably be the seat and seat back. In ordering the Aeron in the Graphite / Graphite combination, these would both be covered under the 12-year warranty.
For the replacement parts in Mineral / Satin Aluminum, Vince did his homework and netted out with the following list:
|Part Number||Part Description|
Aeron Chair Base
L + R
Aeron Chair Arm Casting
Fully adjustable arms
Left-hand + Right-hand
L + R
Aeron Chair Swing Arm Casting
Left-hand + Right-hand
Aeron Chair Hip Pivot Seat
Aeron Chair Tilt Subassembly
Tilt limiter and seat angle
From ordering the chair and replacement parts, to pickup my one-of-a-kind Herman Miller Aeron from The Sheridan Group offices, it was a mere 41 days.
There was only one snag in the process. The technician building the chair had one heck of a time piecing together the tilt subassembly with the Satin Aluminum housing, and the Graphite control levers.
From what it sounded like, the tilt subassembly is really never meant to be disassembled. After a few calls with a technician at Herman Miller, he was able to piece it together without an issue.
So in the end did I get exactly what I was looking for? You bet. Did I pay a premium for it? You bet. 😀
Do I regret it or would I do it differently knowing what I know now? Absolutely not.
In the end, I built the exact chair I was looking for — and for an item I plan to use daily for at least the next ten years, the investment was absolutely worth it.