Designer Jeff Weber tells you how the Embody chair came to be.
What do we do every day? We sit. We sit in the office and at home. Staring at our computer screens moving nothing but our fingers. We get stiff and tired. Because sitting is bad for you. Embody is good for you. An agile chair that keeps your body and brain limber all day. Designed specifically for people who work for hours at computers, Embody is the first work chair that benefits both mind and body.
A Chair that Can Boost Creativity
Business today depends upon innovation, creativity, ideas. So we had an idea: Design a chair that helps you innovate, create, come up with the ideas that keep your company growing—minds and bodies in motion. Because movement promotes blood and oxygen flow, which keeps the brain more focused and functional. Embody will move you.
The First Health-Positive Chair
Medical research suggests that our sedentary behaviors, especially long hours of sitting, contribute to obesity and the negative outcomes associated with it—diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and mortality . Yes, we should all exercise more, but the truth is that sitting for hours every day in front of a computer is a fact of life that won't change any time soon.
 Hamilton MT, Hamilton DG, Zderic TW. Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Diabetes 56:2655-2667,2007.
Embody is the first health-positive chair. So advanced that it actually lowers your heart rate and reduces stress. Keeping you focused and relaxed at the same time by stimulating blood and oxygen flow while you sit. You'll feel like you're floating, which means you'll feel more alert. Your brain will be more alert too—coming up with those innovative ideas that keep your company lively and productive.
The back of the chair looks like a spine? Entirely intentional. Embody's instinctive back adapts to your movement, adjusting automatically to your shifting positions, keeping your spine aligned and healthy. Whether you lean forward or recline, your lower back support remains constant—no adjustments needed.
The narrow backrest lets your arms move unimpeded, adding comfort and encouraging additional air movement into the lungs to feed your brain.
Embody encourages the most healthful posture for computer users—working recline, which reduces spine compression and even slows fluid loss from discs. The BackFit adjustment positions the backrest in line with your spine's natural curve, so you achieve and maintain a neutral, balanced posture. Even when you move in the chair, your head will remain properly aligned to your computer display.
The Embody tilt technology places rotation points within the seat and back, so the base of the back remains fixed relative to the seat, encouraging the body to move naturally into the most positive seated postures. This technology provides three zones of support—for the thighs, sacrum/sitting bones, and thorax. The pelvis remains stable with no rearward rotation.
Without a rigid frame and with edges that flex, Embody prevents uncomfortable pressure on your legs and arms.
Pixelated Support—thanks to a dynamic matrix of pixels—creates seat and back surfaces that automatically conform to your every movement and distribute your weight evenly. By fitting your form and reducing seated pressure, Embody increases blood circulation, which improves the flow of oxygen and decreases heart rate.One chair size fits every body. Embody automatically adapts to the wide variation in the sizes, shapes, postures, and spinal curves of different people. Seat depth adjusts to different thigh lengths; armrest motions fit the broadest ranges.
The technology of the Embody chair is right there, where you can see it. Its function is part of its aesthetic. From the back, you see the technology; from the front, you see organic shapes and curves.
Textiles add warmth. More like a skin than a covering; textiles are meant to enhance, not cover up. They have "loft" for a cushy feel; and light and air pass through; keeping you cool. Colours pair with two frame colours and three base colours to simplify choice and appeal to universal tastes.
Carbon footprint? From a baby shoe. The facility in which Embody chairs are made produces about one trash can of landfill waste a month, 77 pounds. None of that waste is hazardous. The facility uses nothing but renewable energy. Made of 42% recycled content, the Embody chair contains no PVCs; at the end of its lifecycle, 95% of Embody can be recycled.
The Embody chair adheres to the McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) Cradle to Cradle protocol and supports Herman Miller's commitment to the environment. Embody is MBDC Cradle to Cradle Silver certified and GREENGUARD certified, and it can provide credits for LEED certification.
The Embody story began in the design studio of Jeff Weber and the late Bill Stumpf. They saw an unsolved problem: the lack of physical harmony between us and our computers. They came up with a radical idea: What if a chair could do more than just minimize the negative effects of sitting? Could they design a chair that actually had positive effects on the body? "You can't design without empathy," said Weber, who also designed our Caper chair. "Since design has become more technology based, we've had to sit in our chairs in front of computers for longer periods, just like everyone else. We identify with the problems people have as a result of sitting."
Bill Stumpf, who designed our Aeron, Equa, and Ergon work chairs and worked for Herman Miller for more than three decades, brought the idea to us. Could such a chair be designed and made? We worked with more than 30 professionals, who contributed their expertise. Physicians and PhDs in the fields of biomechanics, vision, physical therapy, and ergonomics helped test hypotheses, review prototypes, and conduct studies that helped guide the development of the first health-positive chair.
In the earliest discussions with the experts, we tested three hypotheses: Work chairs can be health-positive or therapeutic, not merely health-neutral.Dynamic surface pressure on a chair and back will provide more comfort, liveliness, and health-positive benefits than nondynamic surface pressure.Work chairs can let us achieve postural equilibrium (the upright balance point when our eyes are vertically aligned with our hips) naturally, no matter what our spinal curvature.
Expert input on these hypothesis fueled Weber and Stumpf's early thinking about the chair and formed the basis of experiments designed to establish whether such a chair was possible. But Bill passed away in 2006. Weber carried on. As Embody's designer, it was he who gave the chair its function and form, building on Bill Stumpf's inspiration. Prototypes followed, with experts sitting in them and offering appraisals of what was good and what wasn't. Researchers conducted laboratory experiments involving kinematics, preferred postures, pressure distribution, seated tasks, and metabolics. These guided the development of Embody and confirmed its health-positive benefits.