Good / The Steelcase Gesture feels like a premium product with a sleek design and good sturdy components. The seat cushion is very comfortable, and the arms are probably the most advanced adjustable arms of any ergonomic office chair.
Bad / Steelcase’s focus on the adjustable arms, as well as the exaggerated ability to tilt as far as you want, leave the back support lacking. Regardless of the marketing speak, the back cannot support you well in most positions. The chair is NOT suited for everyone–unlike some other more viable ergonomic chairs.
Verdict / The Steelcase Gesture is not the most comfortable chair on the market, but it might be the most adaptive–regarding features.
Instead (unless you want to impress your friends which how much you can move your arms or tilt back in place) I’d recommend the Steelcase Leap (V1 or V2) which is the perfect example of how to design a chair that will support your back correctly. Also, check out this ultimate guide I did on office chairs to get our full recommendations and options available.
Steelcase Gesture Review
I purchased the Steelcase Gesture to review it and try it out as a main chair. I ended up returning the chair for many reasons and sticking with my older ergonomic chair (Steelcase Leap V1).
Unlike some reviewers out there who have just rephrased other reviews, or made claims that they have tested the chair for hundreds of hours across hundreds of people–this review is my personal experience–a realistic outlook with the chair as a potential consumer like yourself.
I’ll detail my full thoughts on the Steelcase Gesture in this detailed review to debunk some mystery around the chair. Is the chair worth buying or not? If not, what is a better alternative?
The price of the Steelcase Gesture starts out at around $994, which is a normal high-end price for an ergonomic chair (believe it or not). It’s a relatively new product, and even older products cost similar prices with the main competitor being the Herman Miller Aeron which retails around $900-1000. These chairs can easily pass the $1000 mark after tax, shipping, and add-ons you might want (headrest or a different fabric, etc.).
Regardless of how many chairs exist in this competitive ergonomic marketplace, this price is NOT okay for the average buyer. This price range requires a serious commitment to comfort, product reliability and longevity, and overall excellence. For this price, the chair has to be nearly perfect.
In this Steelcase Gesture review, I’ll continue to regard the chair to determine if it’s worth the high asking price (some ergonomic chairs are, believe it or not).
The Steelcase Gesture is a beautiful sleek office chair. In a lot of ways, it feels smaller, slimmer, and sleeker than some other chairs from Steelcase and other competitors.
Most of the chairs construction–from the padded seat and the support underneath, feel super premium and the internals of the chair when looked at from the side, just look plain futuristic and awesome. Looking at the chair this way gives you some insight into how much work went into engineering the chair.
The top of the chair, as well as the rest of the back, is relatively slim and doesn’t poof out like some chairs. The back is framed by two support bars, and a lined patterned appearance covers the back. Overall I think the design of the back looks fine, but it’s not as sexy as the Steelcase Leap which has a beautiful (but very functional) curve and lined back appearance that somehow feels an armored exoskeleton back.
The gesture goes for a bit of a risky modern look bordering on very stylish, while some other chairs like the Aeron don’t even try. I would say the chair is quite good looking, and significantly more compact and streamlined than my Steelcase V1 which feels bulky in comparison.
The only thing is that the ball and socket arms feel a bit more in the way and can look a bit silly when stretched out so wide.
Functionality / Comfort
This area might be the most disputed part of the review, and any review of a chair. Comfort, in more ways than one, is often a subjective decision. However, the makers of the Gesture make the chair out to be the best chair for modern uses and postures. Given that, my experience with that chair did not feel like I was led to believe. And as I mentioned before, the chair is so expensive that it has to be adaptively comfortable for more than one body type. Especially since Steelcase does not sell the chair with adjustable support online (their reasoning is that unless someone has atypical needs, you don’t need it?) What is atypical to be exact?
I’m a tall person–around 6’3’’ so I thought that a chair with super adjustable arms, a back that conforms to any shape, adjustable seat depth, back adjustment, height adjustment, and back force would work. After all, my Steelcase Leap V1 does. But despite all that, the shape of the Gesture chair just doesn’t feel right.
Not all chairs can be made for every body type, but in terms of back design and shape–the Steelcase Leap is MILES ahead of the Gesture’s design, which leads me to believe that this chair is just fundamentally flawed at a core level.
I’m not sure if Steelcase focused so much on the super adjustable arms (very good arms by the way) or how much the seat can go back (it can go back WAY too far for comfort–especially without a headrest), but the design of the chair–when upright, just has the lumbar support hitting you too low and the middle of the chair giving no support to your back at all!
The support rests only on the lowest part of your back, and the top of the chair presses into your shoulder blades leaving the middle area free to fit a hand in between. The only times I could get my back to be supported was when I kept leaning back, but then the lumbar support felt too pressured into my back. After two days of testing, I was getting back pain I haven’t had ever since I’ve been using a nearly decade old Steelcase V1.
In that respect, the design of this chair seems like a huge step back since it’s clearly designed to be either used for short people where the lumbar support might fit them better or sold ONLY with the adjustable support (not sure if this would make a difference).
I read an Amazon review where one user critiqued the chair saying his entire office did not like it except for the short women. In retrospect, I could see this being valid. Another issue with the product on Amazon is that there are a few separate listings with drastically different review ratings. Suspicious? Definitely. One listing has almost entirely negative reviews with users not finding the chair comfortable, whereas another one has 12 5 star ratings.
Not only that, but I haven’t been able to find ONE negative review of this chair from major press review websites that bring up some of my pain points. This actually might be the only HONEST review from a review site of the Steelcase Gesture on the internet.
However, given my complaints, I did find that the actual seat was very comfortable and perhaps even better than my Steelcase Leap V1 (although this chair’s padding has worn out–the one reason I was looking to upgrade…).
The armrests are super adjustable, but after awhile I found I couldn’t use them for long since they were so rigid and functional that my arms just grew tired without anything plush to rest them on.
I have this problem with most office chairs since even the plush arm supports tend to have lackluster padding where your elbow eventually starts hitting plastic or wood instead of foam.
Comfort aside, this chair does seem to be designed with Steelcase’s usual focus on durability. The chair is very sturdy and built to last, and the parts all work together well.
I love the underside of the chair and the texture and materials used in the chair. Every element feels modern and premium.
Lastly, the chair is also just pulled straight out of the box without needing any construction–which is neat (and also makes it nearly impossible to ship back without paying $100+ for return packaging).
Conclusion of Steelcase Gesture Review
The Steelcase Gesture is a chair that often feels worth the asking price of $1000 since its design and build materials make it feel like a very sturdy and sleek chair that will reach the 12-year warranty.
However, I can’t recommend spending the money on this chair since the design of the back seems fundamentally flawed since key points in your back are left unsupported (namely the lower mid part).
Unless you have a week to test the chair for free, I’d just recommend sticking with something like the Steelcase Leap.