Haworth Fern Office Chair Review: Pros, Cons & Verdict.

The best office chair for $1,500?


(38 votes, average: 4.8 out of 5)

Last updated: May 23rd, 2024

haworth fern office chair review

Last updated: May 23rd, 2024

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The Fern is Haworth’s flagship office chair. With a price tag of about $1,500, it competes directly with top office chairs on the Australian market, like the Steelcase Gesture, Steelcase Leap and Herman Miller Mirra 2.

You can buy the Haworth Fern chair in one of two ways: through Australian retailers like Officeworks or through Haworth directly, by visiting their Sydney and Melbourne showrooms.

Clean & Modern Design. It’s one of the best-looking office chairs on the Australian market.Armrests Get Wobbly. Extend them to their near max height and they start to feel cheap.
Very Comfortable. The seat pad and the backrest are top-notch.Long Wait Times. Off-the-shelf Ferns are terrible. Building your own is best, but you’ll need to wait 3-6 months.

Here’s my #1 tip: DO NOT buy the Haworth Fern through Officeworks or smaller chair dealers.

The Ferns you buy through these retailers are pared-down base models that miss out on features that make the Fern special (specifically, the 4D armrests, adjustable lumbar support, and seat tilt adjustment).

Reasons To Buy The Haworth Fern Office Chair.

Above: the Fern chair with a metal base, 4D armrests, but without the optional (and must-have) lumbar support). Make sure you tick that box.

The Haworth Fern chair is beautiful, with a clean, crisp, high-end design that will elevate your office environment.

Its universal aesthetic will look equally at home in a techy, gritty home office of a Microsoft developer or an airy, white office of a yoga instructor.

A huge range of customisation options helps.

While most office chairs in Australia offer 1-2 colour choices, Haworth gives you over 50 colour combinations.

Above: Upholstery colour and material choices on the seat alone. You’re spoiled for choice here.

The seat base and backrest don’t have to be the same colour; everything from bold orange to subdued and warm blue is available.

Digitally knit fabric is a must-have option, in my opinion, as it elevates the look even more and helps with comfort.

Haworth’s build quality is top-notch.

The chair is built in Michigan, USA, so you get a high-end finish with no gaps and smoothly moving mechanisms.

It’s exactly what I’d expect from a premium chair, and it’s on par with premium options from Herman Miller and Steelcase.

The only exception here is the Fern’s armrests.

While the design and adjustability are excellent, they get flimsy and wobbly at the top end of their extension.

(Related: Task Chairs vs Ergonomic Chairs: What’s The Difference?)

Like most office chairs in the $1,500 price range, the Fern chair features a hybrid design. You get a very comfortable foam seat with a waterfall front edge and a mesh back with a tapered design.

Above: the Fern chair with optional lumbar support and plastic base. I’d spec my Fern exactly like this.

Because the seat is spacious, you can sit cross-legged (even though it’s not the most ergonomic position).

Its foam cushion looks thick but offers a surprisingly firm – yet comfortable – sitting experience. It doesn’t bottom out or create pressure points in your backside.

I’d say it’s about on par with the Steelcase Leap and is much better than the cushion you get on the (much cheaper) Sidiz T50 office chair.

Fern’s backrest is one of the best in the business.

Its high-tech design uses 3 sublayers underneath the cover to provide comfortable back support while remaining flexible enough to help you stretch and move throughout your day.

I love the extra height of this backrest.

I’m a tall guy and love that it covers my entire back. Its edges don’t dig into my shoulders, and because the backrest tapers towards the top, I can move my arms and shoulders back without restriction.

Add-on lumbar support is a must-have option.

Above: Close-up of Fern’s lumbar support. Note the robust mechanism that has a huge vertical range of motion.

It offers a huge range of motion in the vertical plane but, unfortunately, doesn’t allow you to control depth.

This may present an issue for people who prefer gentle lumbar support, as the Fern’s is quite aggressive. If you’re in this camp, test a Fern in a showroom before buying.

Fern’s 4D armrests have height, width, pivot and reach adjustments.

They are very similar in design to those you’ll find on the Steelcase Leap and the ErgoTune Supreme, and would be the best armrests on the market if they didn’t have that flimsiness issue I mentioned earlier.

(Related: ErgoTune Supreme vs Sihoo M57 Office Chairs: Which Is Best?)

Fine-tuning the Fern office chair to your body is easy.

You get seat depth adjustment and optional forward tilt if you prefer to work in a perched position.

Unfortunately, the forward tilt function only moves the seat pan forward (unlike the mechanisms on the Sayl and the Aeron, where the whole chair tilts).

It’s an inferior design, as it will likely encourage you to slouch.

A synchro-tilt mechanism powers the Fern chair’s recline, which is smooth, deep and comfortable. You will love it if you’re the type of person who likes to kick back and rock in your office chair.

Five lockable positions for recline and tension control round out the adjustments.

I love that all levers and buttons are within reach – there’s no need to get out of the chair to adjust anything.

Assembly, by the way, is nonexistent.

The Fern task chair arrives at your door in a huge box, already assembled, so you won’t need to spend any time fiddling with screws. Simply take it out of the box, roll it to your home office and start working.

Expert Tip.

The box is very large and heavy, so make sure you have two people on standby to bring it into your home.

Haworth gives you an outstanding 12-year warranty comparable to other high-end chairs in the price range (Herman Miller and Steelcase). It’s rated for 365-day use, 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.

Unfortunately, the warranty covers the fabric of the seat base for only 3 years. This is far shorter than the 5-7 years you typically get with the competition.

Reasons To Avoid The Haworth Fern.

Above: the Fern’s armrests are very adjustable, but somewhat flimsy when fully extended. Its controls, however, are excellent.

The Fern chair is great – but not perfect.

I’ve already mentioned the wobbly armrests, so I won’t repeat myself – except to say – why?

How can a premium office chair manufacturer overlook a critical touchpoint in their flagship product?

Fern’s headrest is also woeful.

It adjusts for height but not depth. Yet, it’s quite far forward, which means it’s always touching the back of your head. Skip it when speccing your Fern – you’ll remove it anyway.

My final gripe is that the Fern isn’t great for very tall people.

If you’re taller than 195 cm, you will struggle (and are better off with an Ergotune Supreme or an Aeron).

First, Fern’s gas pistons are available in one size only. It’s a surprising oversight, considering so many other features are customisable. It means people taller than 195 cm will find their knees to be taller than their hips.

Taller people will need to make full use of Fern’s seat depth function.

While it’s a very handy feature, it achieves extra length by moving the entire seat base forward, creating a gap between the backrest and itself in the process.

This wide chasm can be uncomfortable, especially during marathon 8-hour sitting stints.

Above: Hybrid construction means a mesh back and a foam seat pad that’s covered in fabric.

How The Haworth Fern Office Chair Stacks Up.

The Fern chair is a high-end chair that costs about half as much as ultra-premium options, like the Herman Miller Embody and Aeron.

It punches well above its $1,500 price and is a great investment.

Build Quality & Warranty4.5/5

My Verdict On The Haworth Fern Office Chair.

The Fern will fit people between 155 cm and 195 cm in height. It’s one of the most comfortable office chairs on the Australian market if you’re within this range.

It’s also one of the nicest-looking chairs out there.

It competes head-on with the Aeron and the Embody, but costs half the price.

I’d also buy it over the Leap because it looks more modern and has a better recline. The Leap’s hip-thrust synchro-tilt feels much less nice than the Fern’s deep, rocking recline.

Unfortunately, I’m taller than 195 cm in height, so I’ll look elsewhere.

For me, the gap between the backrest and the seat pad will be annoying, and the height is insufficient. Wobbly armrests are also a pet hate.

But if you can overlook those quibbles, it’s a great choice.

Yes, it’s expensive, but you can count on it lasting for 12 years, which means the cost translates to about $10/month.

This is why I don’t recommend buying ultra-cheap chairs. You end up spending a lot more in the long term, as you have to throw them out over 1-2 years.


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