The Sayl Chair After 6000 Hours — Comfortable But Delicate

The Sayl Chair After 6000 Hours — Comfortable But Delicate

Updated on

January 3, 2023

Table of contents

I purchased my Herman Miller Sayl chair in 2019 and have been using it daily ever since. I was initially going to get the Aeron because of how many people recommend it, but I’ve always found the design so…vanilla.

Instead, I ended up picking up a brand new Sayl with a custom color scheme and have been using it on average for 8 hours per day at my Flexispot Standing Desk.

Overall, I’ve been delighted with the Sayl, minus a few minor quality issues I've discovered after heavy use.

Let's get into it.

A design inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge

The visuals of this chair are striking right away, putting it apart from many other chairs in the market at this price point.

Designer Yves Béhar wanted to create a compelling design using as few materials as possible and ended up taking his biggest inspiration from the unique characteristics of the Golden Gate bridge.

The Sayl chair uses this Y-shaped suspension tower to support the back, which means the stretchy elastomer material can be tight in the areas where you need support, and more relaxed in the areas where you want to move around. 

Smart right?

Since the chair design resembled a sail on a ship, they mixed “Sail” with the Y-Shaped frame and ended up with “Sayl.”

After its launch in 2010, the Sayl was quickly called a future classic, and I think rightfully so, based on its unique design and high bar for comfort.

This chair really is a beautiful object to look at. I took these pictures on the first day it arrived, so it's looking very pristine in these photos.

It still looks great 2 years later, but I will mention that the white plastic and mesh backing tends to pick up a fair bit of dust.

It's not going to be noticeable on the darker versions, but I couldn't resist the clean white look.

Comfort

Before purchasing the Sayl, I had been using a Knoll Generation for the past 10 years. I liked it overall but was starting to feel like a bit of a change (primarily due to a red/black color scheme that didn’t suit my home office).

Sitting in the Sayl felt good right away.

I immediately felt my posture straighten up, and the number of options for small adjustments here and there made it easy to adjust the chair to perfectly suit my body.

The only reason that made me a bit apprehensive about purchasing the Sayl chair were a few reviews online saying it wasn’t the greatest chair for taller people (I’m 6’2”, so these kind of comments immediately jumped out at me.)

If you’re also tall, I can confidently say that day-to-day comfort isn’t going to be an issue.

I've noticed that you start to feel how hard the upper edges of the chair are if you’ve got your hands behind your head and are leaning back into the chair, but this happens so rarely that I don’t find it an issue at all.

If I were to be nitpicky, the arm rests are probably the least comfortable part of the entire chair.

Not necessarily because they don’t feel good; it’s just that I notice the feeling of them more so than the seat and back.

They are relatively hard, and only offer a little bit of foam padding for comfort. I opted for the high-performance arm upgrade, so I can at least raise and angle them how I like to make up for it.

Choose your colors carefully

The great thing about these chairs (if you buy them new) is that you can completely customize the colors, upholstery, casters, and additional accessories.

I went with a subdued color scheme of white and grey, but after a few years, I regret the white seat. It picks up dirt very quickly, and I made the mistake of sitting on it with raw denim, which slowly started to dye it blue.

The seat looks pretty gross at this point, so I opted for a cheap black seat cover I gladly found on Amazon to hide it as best as I could.

Quality

Herman Miller is legendary for their attention to detail and quality checks, and most of the Chair is rock solid. 

I have one complaint though—the armrests (notice a theme here?).

After about 2 years of use, I noticed a small tear forming on the inside seam of the left armrest. It turns out it wasn’t just me as well — looking on amazon (when it was being sold there), I found a few reviews saying the same thing was happening to other people.

This is disappointing to say the least, but thankfully Herman Miller has a great warranty and sent me a replacement for free a few days later. I am a bit worried about the longevity of these arms over time, and I don't even want to know what these arm pads would cost to replace individually.

Warranty

The Sayl chair comes with a 12-year warranty, covering all parts and labor within that time period.

This amazing warranty his isn’t unique to Hermann Miller products (my Knoll had the same warranty length), but knowing that if anything goes wrong with the chair, and they have you covered, takes a bit of the string out of the purchase price.

Herman Miller offers a white glove service where if something goes wrong with the chair, they’ll send some repair people out to your location to fix it. 

I had to get the seat replaced on my Knoll Generation, and some people took it inside of their van, and did the repairs right on the spot. 

That said, I did get annoyed with the chair squeaking about a year after owning it and decided to just fix it myself for the sake of time.

I found this step by step walkthrough from a reddit comment, and 15 minutes later it was back to being silent.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Sleek and modern design: The Sayl chair has a stylish and contemporary look that will complement any modern workspace.
  • Comfortable seating: The chair's suspension backrest and adjustable lumbar support system help to ensure that users are comfortable while sitting for long periods of time.
  • Customizable fit: The chair's adjustable lumbar support system and Y-tower backrest allow users to customize the chair to fit their specific needs and preferences.
  • Durable and well-made: Herman Miller is known for producing high-quality products, and the Sayl chair is no exception. It's built to last and withstand the rigors of everyday use.
  • Eco-friendly: The Sayl chair is made with sustainable materials, including a recycled-content backrest and upholstery. This makes it a great choice for those who are environmentally conscious.
  • Affordable: Compared to some other Herman Miller chairs, the Sayl chair is relatively affordable, making it a good option for those who are looking for a high-quality chair without breaking the bank.
  • Strong warranty: 10 years is a long time to have a product covered for any defects at all

Cons

  • Armrests tend to fall apart after a few years of use
  • Tall people might experience some discomfort when leaning back with their hands behind their head
  • Chair needed to be regreased after a year
  • White tends to pick up a lot of dirt and dust

Where to buy a Sayl chair?

As with any chairs, I recommend you try them out in a store near you before making a purchase.

You could support your local shop and buy directly from them, or purchase directly from Herman Miller and save a little bit of money.

Sayl pricing

Pricing will range pretty heavily depending on which options you choose for the chair.

Here are 3 builds going over the typical price points, including my middle recommendation.

Cheapest Sayl build available - $695 USD

I took a look at the chair builder on Design Within Reach to see what the cheapest configuration available is. This is as barebones as you can get with minimal adjustability, but it’ll at least get you the chair.

  • Black frame
  • Black Crepe upholstery
  • Fixed arms
  • Fixed seat depth
  • No lumbar support
  • Carpet caster

My recommended Sayl build - $985 USD

Personally, I don’t care much about the higher-end upholstery the Sayl has, but I do care about as much adjustability as possible. This is the exact chair that I have, minus the white seat cushion, which I swapped out for white.

  • Fog frame
  • Black Crepe upholstery
  • Fully adjustable arms
  • Adjustable seat depth
  • Adjustable lumbar support
  • Hard or carpet caster

Spare no expense Sayl Build - $1235 USD

Most of the extra costs from this build come from the upgraded upholstery and the addition of the Black / Studio white frame.

  • Black / Studio White frame
  • Gemma Eventfall upholstery
  • Fully adjustable arms
  • Adjustable seat depth
  • Adjustable lumbar support
  • Hard or carpet caster

What is the difference between the Sayl Chair and the Sayl Gaming Chair?

The difference between these the regular Sayl chair and the Sayl Gaming Chair mostly comes down to the color selection.

There isn’t as much customization available on the gaming version, but it comes pre-packaged with all the adjustable parts that I would recommend on the regular chair.

Summary

Overall, the Herman Miller Sayl chair is a stylish and comfortable office chair that offers a range of design features that make it a great choice for any modern workspace.

My only concern is the longevity of the arm rests, but with a 12 year warranty, I won't be too worried for the foreseeable future at least.

If you're looking for an office chair that looks great (and isn't an Aeron), I think the Sayl is a great option that comes in at a little lower price point than the other popular chairs in the market.

Just don't get the white seat like I did.

It looks great new but doesn't age well.

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The Sayl Chair After 6000 Hours — Comfortable But Delicate
Author
Bryan Maniotakis
Bryan is the founder of minimalgoods and has been curating, photographing, and reviewing products with a minimal aesthetic since 2017.‍
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