Haworth Fern vs Steelcase Gesture Office Chair – is more expensive better?

Haworth Fern office chair
Haworth Fern office chair

If you’re torn between the Fern and the Gesture, we’re here to shed some more light on it. Steelcase chairs have always been favored for their comfort and durability. But the Fern is also becoming more popular nowadays because of how comfortable this chair is. 

So without further ado, let’s dabble into it. Let’s see which option you’re better off with.

Back support and seat Comparison

We have always been intrigued by the way Haworth designed Fern’s backrest. It’s a rather fresh take on the usual S- shaped back support. The Fern’s back takes on the shape of well, err a fern, hence the name. If you’ll check the structure of a fern, it has a backbone and fronds. And come to think of it, it’s an ingenious way of mimicking the back’s normal curve.

And did it work for the chair? Yes, it did, we actually find the backrest of the Fern very comfortable. It did have that infamous S-shaped back that can follow your spine’s every movement. Fern makes use of a wave suspension technology, with the fronds of the” fern” supporting your spine’s every movement. 

Steelcase Gesture office chair compare vs Fern
Steelcase Gesture office chair

The Gesture, on the other hand, like all Steelcase chairs, has a LiveBack Technology. This aims to also mimic the shape of the sine. Thus, like the Fern, the chair can also be flexible and it can follow your back’s every movement.  

It also has lumbar support. But like the Fern, we did not feel like it did do anything for the chair. The lumbar support of the Gesture is too subtle. Even if the lumbar is adjustable, it’s not pronounced. You may not even be able to feel the difference if you remove it.

Also, both chairs offer a high backrest so they can cater to taller users. The difference is in what material the backrest is made from. The Fern has a mesh material while the Gestures have a thin cushion or padding that is firm on the back. 

For the seat comfort, we have always loved how cradling the Fern is. We have pitted the Fern against several premium chairs beforehand. And the seat comfort of the Fern always takes the bacon home. The pressure mapping really does relieve the pressure point. So you can sit on it for an entire day and you will not feel any tingling or numbing sensation.

The seat comfort of the Gesture, on the other hand, is also sufficiently comfortable. It uses a thin cushion that works for most of us. And what we love about the seat of the Gesture is that you can move the seat pan forward or backward. So this is great for those who have longer legs. You can adjust the seat pan forward to accommodate legs that go on for days.

Both chairs provide a rather comfortable experience for you back. But the Fern did a better job in being more flexible and cradling. It just felt like sublime comfort for your back and butt, especially if you’ve been sitting on the chair for long periods. 

The Gesture, even with the weaker lumbar support, felt too aggressive for most of us. The support is firm and the chair forces you to sit upright. Well, too upright if you’d ask us. Unless you’re used to an upright posture, your back will feel tired if you will sit on the Gesture for the first time.  

Yes, it’s comfortable, but if you have a weak back, this can feel more like a training chair. Some members of our team felt like they did a back workout after sitting in the chair for 4-5 hours. 

Also, the backrest of the Gesture can be uncomfortable for those who stand 6’4”. Though the backrest is high enough for taller users, the sides of the chair can press too much against your shoulder. So this can leave a numbing sensation after sitting for a long time. We did not encounter the same issue with the Fern.

The same goes for the seat. In terms of comfort, the Fern is more preferred by all the members of our team. Also, both chairs have seat pans that can be moved forward or backward. So the Fern can also accommodate legs that go on for days.

Armrests

The armrests of both office chairs are highly adjustable. They can be pivoted in and out, and you can also change the height. However, Fern’s armrests feel more comfortable for all of us. And that’s for two reasons.

One, the Fern has more tapered armrests. It starts wide at the elbows and is tapered going to the forearms. This shape seems to provide more comfort when working for longer hours. 

Our elbows did not slip off the armrests. While the armrest of the gestures isn’t problematic, adjusting it is. We had quite a challenging time fiddling through the knob for the armrest adjustment. 

And oh, it does not seem to lock into place. It always comes off even if we have locked it. 

Build and construction

This is where we have noticed a big difference between these two chairs.

The Gesture, like the Leap, has several plastic components. But all of the materials used in the Steelcase chair feel and look premium, even if it’s plastic. You will not find anything flimsy or cheap. Even if we have been using it for some years, it still felt tight. All the connections were still good and there are not any loose screws or whatever. You will also not hear a squeaking sound that will suggest wear and tear.

In short, the Gesture, like the other Steelcase chairs, is one solid and strong chair. So you’re sure that it can really last for a long time. You will even resell it.

We can’t say the same thing with the Fern. It doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy when we first sit in it. It felt decently solid. But over time, it started to show signs of wear and tear. Maybe after two years or so, you could be able to hear squeaking sounds of screws going loose. 

Some users were able to remedy this by tightening the connections. But there’s only a certain point that you can do that.

So in terms of durability, it’s clear that the Gesture has the upper hand here.

Adjustability

Both chairs are highly adjustable. That’s why the Fern and the Gesture can cater to more users. And more people will be able to find the sweet spot of comfort. 

But we do have some concerns about both.

For the Fern, there seem to be too many adjustability options for a chair of this built. So with all the levers and knobs, we felt like something might go wrong with the chair eventually. And it sure did. A chair with this quality should not have many knobs and levers. Instead of too many parts, focus should have been given more to the overall integrity of the chair. Too many adjustability options can also be overwhelming for some people. 

It seemed to might have compromised the overall integrity of the office chair. And we think this is what happened to Fern chairs used for over two years or so. 

The Gesture, on the other hand, also offers sufficient adjustability options. It also has a nice range of customization options. That’s also one of the things we love about the chair. But as we have mentioned earlier, we find the knob or lever for the armrest to be problematic. 

Overall

  1. In terms of comfort, we find the Fern ultra-comfortable. Especially the seat, it feels like you’ve been cradled like a baby. The Gesture, though not as cradling as the Fern, is decently comfortable. But for those who slouch often or have a weak back, it forces you to sit in an upright position. And some will find this very uncomfortable and tiring.
  2. Both chairs offer a different kind of tilt mechanism. And it worked well for each. They can also be reclined up to a certain point and rocked back and forth.
  3. The warranty of the Gesture, being a Steelcase chair, is quite generous. The lifetime warranty speaks volumes about the build and quality of the chair. But take note that gestures do have some heft to it, it is heavy. 

The warranty of the Fern, on the other hand, is not as shabby. It offers a 12-year warranty on most parts. So it’s still above average and considerably longer than most midrange chairs.

  1. As for the built and construction, the Fern can become problematic after a few years of use. While the Gesture can still feel good as new that people are still able to resell it.

The price: Haworth Fern vs Steelcase Gesture

Final say

Comfort-wise, more users will find the Ferm a better choice. That’s why it’s also used by gamers. But you do have to manage your expectations. This chair isn’t as solid as the Gesture. And It will show signs of wear and tear after a few years. 

So is expensive better? In the case of these two chairs, it depends on what your priority is. Expensive is better for the build and constitution, but for comfort, no.