"We wanted a totally new kind of chair."
Think About How We Sit
Designer Bill Stumpf once admitted, "I design for myself. I can't tell when you sit in a chair whether your butt feels good, but I know when mine does." The Aeron chair, he said, was designed around the idea of "I want to sit on this really bad."
It took seven years to develop Aeron, and that development started in an unlikely way. Stumpf and his design partner, Don Chadwick, were involved in a Herman Miller research project that was investigating what older people needed in terms of long-term sitting. They discovered that one of the big problems was the heat that builds up between you and your chair when you sit in it for four hours. Three years later, when Stumpf and Chadwick were beginning to think about a new work chair design, that discovery came into play.
Function Is Form
The unique form of the Aeron chair expresses its purpose and shows off the composition of its parts and the way they connect. The transparent and reflective nature of its surfaces gives it an airy quality. It becomes a part of the person who uses it and the environment that surrounds it. And it's kind to the overall environment too. Made largely of recycled materials, the Aeron chair is designed to last a long time and to be almost entirely recyclable at the end of its useful life.
They threw out all preconceived notions of what a work chair should look like.
Starting With a Clean Slate
"We wanted a totally new kind of chair," Stumpf and Chadwick said. So they decided to throw out all preconceived notions of what an ergonomic work chair should look like, how it should work, what it should be. They started with a clean slate, and what they came up with revolutionized the whole idea of an office chair.
There was no upholstery or padding. The Pellicle suspension that replaced the cushions let air circulate, so bodies that sat in the chair for hours on end didn't overheat. There were no straight lines on the chair, because the human form has no straight lines. The curvilinear shape Stumpf and Chadwick developed distributed weight in a natural way that relieved pressure points and kept blood circulating. There weren't big, comfy models for the top brass and stripped-down models for the lowliest clerks. It was a democratic chair that was transparent and nonintrusive in the environment, yet had a look so distinctive that New York's Museum of Modern Art snatched one up for its permanent collection.