Missing the Point

Apparently word hasn’t gotten around yet to some people as to just how tight belts have gotten in the world since the end of the Boom. At least, that’s the only conclusion I can reach after reading Slate’s review of Herman Miller’s new office chair, the Mirra.

The article correctly describes the rise and fall of HM’s last big thing, the Aeron chair, which became symbolic of Boom excess as it became the standard office furniture of every business-sense-deficient dot-com in America. Today, though, sales of the Aeron lag precisely because of that association; nobody wants to have someone walk into their office and think “hey, these folks spend money just like the dot-coms used to”. Enter the Mirra, which is supposed to provide an affordable alternative to the Aeron.

Except… it isn’t affordable. While HM is too tasteful to discuss tacky things like price on their Web site, Slate helpfully throws in some numbers. An Aeron, new, can cost up to $1,200, which anyone can see is absurd for an office chair unless you’re rolling in VC money. The Mirra, however, is quoted by Slate as costing… wait for it… $640. This is touted as being a much more proletarian figure than that of the Aeron.

Am I nuts, or is $640 for a freaking office chair still waaaay too much? Especially if you’re looking to project a frugal, penny-pinching image. Heck, I’d venture to say that half that is still too much. Sounds like the folks at HM still have a lot to learn about how people do business out here in the real world.