Review (ish): Setu chair by Herman Miller

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Taking pride of place by my Sebastian Cox desk – more on that in another post!

Right so I promised you interiors posts, but I didn’t promise you pretty interiors posts (if you want them, may I suggest my friend Vicky’s blog Style Made Simple?). I’m starting with this because it’s quick and easy for me to blog about (unlike all the decorating/room scheme planning that’s been going on and which requires decent photography) but also because it is possibly the most exciting purchase I have made since we moved in. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s certainly ONE of the most exciting purchases.

As with most desk-chained work drones, I have had to endure years of backache thanks to uncomfortable ‘ergonomic’ desk chairs. When I worked at IPC (now Time Inc, but forever IPC to me) and they moved into their fancy new office (which has since been sold off at the same rate as all their magazines) they gave us all these swish Vitra chairs. They looked lovely – all black mesh and sleek curves, but within days I was in agony. I think because I have a ridiculously long back (seriously I can’t wear a swimming costume because they don’t reach over my nipples), I just can’t get on with most chairs that are sculpted to fit. Anyway, we got free physio at work (like I said, this was back in the days when people still bought magazines and there was lots of money floating about) and I took full advantage of this. After using up my six free sessions and still finding work about as comfortable as walking across nails, I complained to my manager, who ordered me a hugely expensive Stephen Hawking-like contraption which, quite frankly, was actually worse.

Oh god, as usual, I’m being ridiculously verbose here – what I meant to say is that I prefer simple chairs rather than someone else’s idea of ‘ergonomic’. In fact, some of my most comfortable desk days have been sat on a kitchen chair with a cushion under my bum.

But obviously after a while this set-up gets a bit bum-numbing. I have searched high and low over the years for a solution. Just a comfortable desk chair – not too much to ask, right? And then finally I found one in John Lewis. About three years ago – the Herman Miller Setu. I sat on it and it was like being given a great big bear hug from behind. It was LOVELY. I was in love. But I was also wary – much like shoes you try on and prance about the shop in for five minutes that FEEL comfortable, chairs have a habit of turning on you after an hour. The chair was also expensive. Really expensive. I walked away.

But then I came back. Four times. Every time I went to John Lewis I would go and sit in it for as long as I could get away with before whoever I was shopping with wondered where on earth I had gone. And it was always the same: a great big bear hug. So finally, two weeks ago, I ordered one.

It arrived. I was so nervous. I sat in it but it was just as good as I remembered. Everyone who’s visited the new house has also sat in it and sighed in envy. It is a good chair. It’s not particularly fancy – in fact the only thing you can adjust is the seat height, but somehow this works. You can’t tilt the seat or fix the back or raise the arms but this means you’ve got less chance of locking yourself into some godawful position which seems comfortable at first but is slowly and stealthily crushing your spine.

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Also, even though I said this wasn’t a pretty interiors post, it’s a pretty chair right? It’s bloody lovely to look at. It comes in lots of sophisticated shades – in fact the ‘Berry’ one, a kind of navy, was my favourite in the store but after much deliberation I went with the neutral ‘Alpine’ to match my new office decor.

So yes. If like me, you’re in need of a new desk chair and you also can’t cover your nipples in a swimming costume, maybe go and have a sit on it in John Lewis for three years too. I reckon you’ll be as convinced as I was.

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Charlotte Duckworth
I'm Charlotte Duckworth, an interiors and lifestyle editor, consultant and general digital media nerd. Once upon a time I also had a novel published. This is my personal blog, about new motherhood, life and interiors.
Charlotte Duckworth

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