Haworth Fern review: total back support from a uniquely designed office chair

The Haworth Fern combines style with comfort without sacrificing customization options

The Haworth Fern office chair next to a desk
Editor's Choice
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Tom's Guide Verdict

The Haworth Fern is an ergonomic office chair that justifies its higher price with a unique design that’s as comfortable to sit in as it is to look at. There are plenty of different color and configuration options available but it's the choice of materials that really set the Fern apart. Backed by a 12-year warranty, this is an office chair you’ll be able to use for years to come.


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    12-year warranty

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    Arrives fully assembled

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    Extremely comfortable for long hours

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    Loads of color and configuration options

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    Plenty of standard and optional adjustments


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    No full mesh option

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The Haworth Fern is a premium ergonomic office chair that takes its namesake to heart. Its design draws inspiration from a fern leaf and there are several different configurations to choose from along with a wide range of color options. Of the office chairs I’ve reviewed, the Haworth Fern is the most customizable one yet. Whether you want a leather office chair fit for a board room or a mesh one to help keep you cool while working, there’s something here for everyone.

At a starting price of over $1,000 for the cheapest one though, the Haworth Fern is certainly an investment. However, this office chair is backed by a 12-year warranty and unlike with the Herman Miller Aeron, you won’t need to purchase a third-party headrest separately. You will have to add an optional lumbar support at checkout if you want extra support for your back though.

After spending the last few weeks using the Haworth Fern exclusively, I can easily say it’s one of the best office chairs you can get today. It’s extremely comfortable for long hours of extended use and its unique design not only turns heads but also responds to your every movement to cradle both your body and your spine. Here’s what impressed me the most about the Haworth Fern along with a few downsides you’ll want to consider before investing in one.

Haworth Fern: Cheat Sheet

  • What is it? A premium office chair that comes in several different configurations based on the materials used.
  • Who is it for? People who work from home looking to upgrade from a starter office chair.
  • What does it cost? It starts at over $1,000 and goes up to $1,600 depending on which model you choose.
  • What do we like? This is a beautiful office chair with a unique design that’s extremely comfortable to sit in for long hours.
  • What don’t we like? This is a premium office chair that costs quite a lot and while you can get a configuration with a mesh back, there’s no full mesh option.

Haworth Fern: Specs

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Price$1,105 to $1,599
Maximum height45-53 inches (with headrest)
Maximum load325 pounds
Maximum recline125°
Weight55 pounds
MaterialMesh, digital knit, gradient knit, or leather
Adjustment points8
Warranty12 years

Haworth Fern: The ups

The Haworth Fern immediately sets itself apart from the competition thanks to its one-of-a-kind design. However, the chair’s adjustability, customization and color options and long-term comfort are what give it lasting appeal.

Minimal assembly required

The Haworth Fern office chair fully assembled in a large box

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Unlike other chairs you have to put together on your own, the Haworth Fern comes fully assembled just like the Steelcase Karman does. This makes sense though as both of these chairs cost over $1,000. The only thing I had to do was to unbox the Haworth Fern and take all of the packaging off. If you choose a configuration with a headrest, you will need to install it yourself but it literally snaps into place in seconds.

Part fern, part spine

The Haworth Fern office chair in front of a desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you look at the Haworth Fern from the front, it looks like a more premium version of the Branch Ergonomic Chair or Branch Verve Chair which both have mesh backrests with fabric seat cushions. However, when you turn the chair around, its name begins to make more sense.

The Haworth Fern office chair pushed into a desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Haworth Fern features a patented system designed to cradle your entire back and respond to its movements in a similar way to the Steelcase Karman. However, while Steelcase went with a proprietary intermix textile to achieve this, Haworth uses a 3-part system that’s made up of flexible fronds that resemble the leaves of a fern, a cradle that goes on top of them and a central stem that ties everything together. The company’s Wave Suspension System does an excellent job of supporting your back on its own but you can also add an optional lumbar support if you wish.

Not only is the Fern’s design functional and comfortable but it’s also quite pleasing to look at, while giving the chair plenty of personality. In fact, this is actually what drew me to this chair in the first place and why I wanted to test it out.

Backward or forward

The adjustment lever on the right side of the Haworth Fern

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Adjustability is the main thing that sets a standard office chair apart from an ergonomic one. The Haworth Fern features all of the adjustment options you’d expect along with a few others that aren’t so common. You can raise or lower the seat height using a lever on the right side but there’s also a crank in front that allows you to change the chair’s tilt tension. Other chairs like the OdinLake Ergo Butterfly 753 use a knob for this but I felt like I had more control over the Haworth Fern’s recline resistance when using its crank

The adjustment levers on the left side of the Haworth Fern office chair

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On the left side of the Haworth Fern, there are only two levers. One allows you to move the seat forward or backward by three inches but it was the other one that impressed me the most. It is optional but, if you want to, you can add forward tilt adjustment to this chair at checkout. Leaning back in your office chair is great when you want to relax but with forward tilt, you can lean forward by five degrees which is great for when you want to focus on a particular task.

Spoiled for choice

Although I had a chance to test out the mesh version of the Haworth Fern, there are actually six other variations available on Haworth’s website. They differ when it comes to the materials they’re made of and what colors they come in.

If mesh isn’t your style, you can get the Haworth Fern with a digital knit backrest, a gradient one or even a leather backrest. It’s worth noting that the leather version of the Fern also has a leather seat. There are also multiple color combinations to choose from. The Quick Ship colored chairs usually arrive at your door in five business days while the Made to Order colors can take up to three weeks to arrive. 

The seat cushion and 4D armrests on the Haworth Fern office chair

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Besides colors and materials, you also have several configuration options to choose from at checkout. There you can decide whether or not you want a headrest or lumbar support, and choose between 4D Arms and standard height adjustable arms. This is also where you can opt for forward tilt functionality for your chair. Likewise, you also get to pick between soft or hard casters with the latter being a better choice for a carpeted home office.

Haworth Fern: The downs

The Haworth Fern is an exceptional office chair both in terms of design and comfort. However, it’s not without its downsides which include the lack of a full mesh option and its higher price when compared to the competition.

Mesh but not full mesh

Over the past few years, full mesh office chairs like the X-Chair X2 have become increasingly popular, and for good reason. A mesh backrest and seat help keep you cool while working plus, mesh is a lot easier to clean than fabric. However, not all mesh office chairs are the same, and the mesh used in them varies greatly. 

The mesh backrest of the Haworth Fern office chair

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Although there is a mesh version of the Haworth Fern, only the backrest is made of mesh. It’s soft and smooth while the chair’s fabric seat cushion is a bit more rough and has a firmer feeling to it. This is kind of a best of both worlds approach and it certainly works here. However, if you do want an entirely mesh office chair, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. That isn’t to say that Haworth won’t make an all-mesh Fern chair in the future though.

Certainly not a starter chair

The casters on the Haworth Fern office chair

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Just like with the best standing desks, finding the right office chair for your body and workflow can take some time. You don’t want to just rush out and buy the most expensive chair. Instead, you should get a starter chair and then work up to a premium office chair like the Haworth Fern and this is especially true if you just started working from home. 

The Haworth Fern is an investment to say the least at over $1,000 but if you’ve been using a budget or mid-range office chair for some time, you’ll immediately notice the difference. Backed by a 12-year warranty, this is the kind of chair you’ll be able to use for years to come and Haworth provides good guidance on how to care for each version of the Fern.

Haworth Fern: Verdict

The Haworth Fern may be more expensive than other office chairs but its unique design, customization options, adjustability, lengthy warranty and the fact that it comes fully assembled help justify its higher price. Not only does its design tell a story but Haworth conducted comfort studies with experts in biomechanics, physical therapy and kinesiology when the company first launched the Fern back in 2016.

After testing out both the mesh version and the Xbox version of the Fern, I can easily say that this is one of the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever used. It’s also easy to adjust to your liking and I appreciate how Haworth lets you fine tune your configuration at checkout. While I would love an all mesh version of the Fern, this could defeat the chair’s purpose. Part of what makes it so comfortable to sit in for long periods is the firmness of its seat cushion and how it contrasts with the flexibility of the Fern’s backrest.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.