Steelcase Series 1 vs Series 2 – Read This Before Buying!

If you’re new to high-performance seating, you probably noticed it’s a pretty expensive world of office chairs. Steelcase and Herman Miller are some of the most popular manufacturers of these types of chairs. 

A quick visit to their online store will have you running away due to those prices. A $2000 Herman Miller Embody might as well be a million dollars to me…

You can still find these high-end chairs for cheap on the used market. Here’s how I found my Herman Miller Sayl for cheap and changed the look entirely.

Fortunately, they do actually try to bring their world-class ergonomics to more affordable chairs. That’s how the Steelcase Series 1 and Series 2 were born.

Today we’re going to talk about the similarities and differences between these two chairs so you can figure out what is best for you. After a ton of research, the recommended chair by people who have actually used and tested these chairs will surprise you. 

Let’s get into it. 

The Series 1 & 2 In The Steelcase Lineup

There are a handful of models In Steelcase’s high-performance seating lineup. Here is how the Series 1 chair and Series 2 chair fit in. 

steelcase chair lineup

It’s clear that the Series 1 and Series 2 chairs are meant to be the most economical and accessible chairs of the entire lineup. This makes them great choices for those on a budget!

The price between the Series 1 and Series 2 are not too far apart. Depending on the specification you buy, you will pay around ~$150 to $200 more for a Series 2 compared to a Series 1.

Let’s talk about what you actually get for the $150 – 200 extra because that’s still a significant amount of money. Almost the cost of a common office chair!

Steelcase Series 1 Office Chair

This ergonomic office chair features a flexor system in the backrest that conforms to your body, providing all-day comfort and back support. With adjustable seat depth, height-adjustable arms, and a pneumatic seat height adjustment, this chair is designed to fit your body perfectly. The backrest is made of mesh upholstery, and the seat is upholstered for added comfort.

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Major Differences Between The Series 1 & 2

So what is the big deal with the Series 2? Is it that much different than the Series 1? Here are the main differences you need to know about. 

The most game-changing differences that you are paying for with the Series 2 are the different back support and the arm connection.

Back Support & Armrests

The Series 1 back support is relatively short, and a common negative amongst tall users of this chair. The armrests are also integrated with the back support instead of protruding straight from the seat’s base. 

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair - Licorice

The integrated armrests probably make the Series 1 back support cheaper due to fewer materials and more multifunctional parts. However, the Series 1 back comes standard with lumbar support, something that is optional on the Series 2.

Nevertheless, the Series 2 gets a big upgrade with the back support. They took the more premium back support from the

and put it on the Series 2.

Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair

The Series 2 taller back support makes it more suitable for taller folks (especially paired with the optional headrest). You also get independent armrests that are not integrated with the rear frame.

The back support also does not taper close together towards the top as dramatically as the Series 1. That can do a lot for comfort. 

Also, you can only get the Series 2 lumbar support with the 3D Knit version, not the Air version. That’s because they place the actual lumbar support between the two materials in the 3D knit version so it’s not exposed. That’s not possible on the Air version. 

If you’re not familiar with the Air versions, they basically just use a bare mesh plastic (polypropylene) backing.  

Other Minor Differences

The weight of the Series 2 is significantly higher than the Series 1. The Series 2 weighs in at 37 lbs, while the Series 1 weight is 29 lbs. That’s almost a 30% increase! I guess that back support from the Amia really weighs a ton. 

Similarities Between The Series 1 & 2

There is still a lot in common between the Series 1 and Series 2. 

Pretty much everything from the seat downwards will be identical between the Series 1 and Series 2 chairs. That means the same mechanisms, seat materials, and seat dimensions. 

If you have tried out the Series 1, don’t expect to feel any differences from the seat down. 

Which Steelcase Chair Do People Recommend?

When deciding between the Series 1 or Series 2, there are a few considerations to make. 

First, do you have the budget for the increased cost of the Series 2? If that ~$700 price tag is pretty unrealistic (understandably…), then the Series 1 might look better right off the bat. After all, everything from the seat down is exactly the same between the two chairs. And you get the standard lumbar support, which is optional on the Series 2. 

If you are a taller person, on the other hand, the lower back support of the Series 1 might not be a good fit for you. The Series 2 with the taller back support is much better suited to taller folks. The larger mesh back is superior in general, so if you have the budget the Series 2 is worth the upgrade. 

What About An Alternative?

After reading tons of reviews and recommendations, I was very surprised that those considering Series 1 or Series 2 chairs were strongly recommended to seek out an entirely different one instead. 

Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair

This ergonomic chair features adjustable seat depth, fully adjustable arms, adjustable lumbar, pneumatic seat height adjustment, recline tension adjustment, flexing back with mesh upholstery, and upholstered seat. The back technology features an innovative geometric design, providing all-day comfort and back support. The wheels are designed for hard flooring, and the back mesh and fabric are 100% polyester.

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That alternative chair is the Steelcase Amia.

On the Steelcase website, the Amia is $150 more than the Series 2. However, a quick visit to Amazon showed me certain models were only $30 more than the Series 2 (at the time of writing)! 

Steelcase Amia Office Chair with Platinum Base

The Amia chair features Live Lumbar technology that flexes with movements for ergonomic comfort, and it ships fully assembled. It has a variety of seating adjustments and technologies packaged within its sleek design, keeping your body aligned to your work throughout the day as you recline and switch postures. The chair is weight tested and warranted up to 400 lbs. with no loss of performance.

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I know, this is not a Series 1 or Series 2. But the price similarity means we have to give the Amia some fair coverage as it’s a higher-end chair that can come down to a very similar price point. 

Why The Amia?

Here is what people love about the Amia that can blow the Series 2 out of the water. 

First is the build quality. Many report that the entire build quality is equivalent to that of the Steelcase Leap, which is a $1200 chair! 

It also doesn’t have some desperate eye-grabbing appeal to it. It’s a pretty simple design which makes it a super chair that can also blend in well. 

BTOD TV broke down this chair in one of their videos (linked below), and it exposed a pretty advanced adjustable lumbar support system. The Series 2 simply has a pad that travels up and down. 

The Amia on the other hand has a cable system that travels up and down together with an upper back panel. This means you get a nice continuous surface that flows perfectly at every lumbar height. 

Lastly, the biggest difference with the Series 2 is the seat. The Amia is well known for its comfort levels to cost ratio, and it sets a standard amongst high-end chairs these days. The seat has independent adjustment controls and a super nice flexible front seat area that moves with your body. 

Give Amia a chance if you have the budget to consider a Series 2. If you want comfort but can’t spend the dough just yet, check out our article on how to make your chair more comfortable.

More Info On The Steelcase Series 1 & Series 2

Steelcase Series 1 Review

Steelcase Series 2 Review

Steelcase Amia Long-Term Review

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!