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Making of Aeron

Designer Bill Stumpf tells you how the Aeron chair came to be.
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Environment

94%recyclable

What's In It For You

Aeron Chairs

Product Story

The Aeron chair didn't end up in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection just because it looks cool. Although it does. Its looks are only the beginning. Aeron accommodates both the sitter and the environment. It adapts naturally to virtually every body type, and it's 94% recyclable. Even if it's black, it's green.

Aeron Chairs

The Redefinition of a Work Chair

Imaginative design, fast-forward ergonomics and a look so distinctive that it's probably the only office chair that people can identify by name. Adaptable to all sizes and shapes and all the motions you go through every day while seated, Aeron provides healthy comfort and balanced body support with its innovative suspension and easy-to-use adjustment controls. Work chair, side chair and stool support all kinds of office work.

Aeron Chairs

Pioneering PostureFit Innovation

A modest but fundamental design addition, PostureFit is part of what makes Aeron so comfortable to sit in, even for hours on end. PostureFit supports the way your pelvis tilts forward naturally, so that your spine stays aligned and you avoid back pain. Want to know more? Read the PostureFit design story.

Aeron Chairs

Human-Centred Design

We're serious about comfort. The high, wide, contoured back takes the pressure off your lower spine. Armrests slope slightly down in the back for the most natural and comfortable support. The "waterfall" front edge of the seat takes the pressure off your thighs, so your blood keeps circulating and you stay alert and focused. The patented Kinemat tilt mechanism lets your neck, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles pivot naturally. The Aeron chair moves effortlessly with your whole body, as if your body were telling the chair what to do.

Aeron Chairs

First Chair to Lose the Foam

Where are the cushions? A chair should conform to your contours and relieve the pressure points and heat build-up that cause the aches and pains and fatigue that people who sit all day often think are just part of the job. The Pellicle – that specially woven seat and back suspension material developed for Aeron – does what cushions can't. It conforms to your body and cradles it, keeping the pressure even across your body, and keeps you cool at the same time.

Aeron Chairs

It's Got the Look

The Aeron aesthetic has been copied and copied, because, well, it's a beautiful chair. But despite its stand-out look, it fits right in, whether your office is high-tech, casual, elegant or a room at home that doubles as a gym. Three Pellicle weaves in neutral colours and a range of finish options so that you can create the Aeron you really want.

Aeron Chairs

Earth-Friendly

Green was built into the Aeron chair from the beginning of the design stage. Almost two-thirds of each chair is made of recycled materials, and almost the entire chair (94%) is recyclable. Certified to Cradle to CradleCM Silver, Aeron is GREENGUARD certified and can contribute to LEED certification.

 

Design Story

We wanted a totally new kind of chair. So we turned to the two designers who had produced the groundbreaking Equa chair and asked them to start with a clean slate and no assumptions. A bold challenge!

So Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf began their work of thinking about what a chair ought to do for a person by consulting people who spend a lot of time in their chairs – older people in retirement homes. Chadwick and Stumpf came to some solid conclusions.

Ergonomically, a chair ought to do more than just sit there. It should actively intercede for your health when you sit in it longer than you should.

Functionally, it ought to move and adjust as simply and naturally as possible. It should support you in any position you assume, at any task your office job serves up.

Anthropometrically, a chair ought to be inclusive. It should do more than accommodate people who are larger or smaller than average size; it should really fit them.

Environmentally, it ought to be benign. Its manufacture should be sparing of natural resources, and the chair itself should be durable and easy to repair, recyclable and easy to disassemble.

The design that met these criteria redefined the very meaning of "work chair". It wasn't upholstered. It wasn't padded. It was dimensioned in three models that looked exactly alike and that had nothing to do with people's job titles. It didn't look like any other office chair. And its revolutionary concept incorporated more patentable ideas than any previous Herman Miller research programme.

"It was a matter of deliberate design to create a 'new signature shape' for the Aeron chair," says designer Bill Stumpf. "Competitive ergonomic chairs became lookalikes." Differentiation was a huge part of the Aeron design strategy, and it remains one of, if not the most, critical aspects of Aeron's success.

"The human form has no straight lines; it is biomorphic. We designed the chair to be, above all, biomorphic, or curvilinear, as a metaphor of human form in the visual as well as the tactile sense. There is not one straight line to be found on an Aeron chair."

And what about the lack of cushions? Says Bill Stumpf, "The Pellicle was equally a deliberate design strategy in that its transparency symbolises the free flow of air to the skin in the same way that lace, window screens and other permeable membranes permit the flow of air, light or moisture. The transparency of the chair as a visual element was in keeping with the idea of transparent architecture and technology, which Aeron pioneered in advance of Apple's transparent iMac computers. Transparency is a major design movement. Its purpose is to make technology less opaque, to communicate the inner workings of things and to make objects less intrusive in the environment. Aeron is a non-intrusive chair."

The Aeron design was refined and validated through research and experts' opinions:

It was tested for comfort with scores of users, pitting it against the best work chairs available.Leading ergonomists, orthopaedic specialists and physical therapists evaluated the chair's fit and motion, and the benefit and ease of its adjustments.The design team conducted anthropometric studies across the country, using a specially developed instrument to calculate everything from popliteal (back of the knee) height to forearm length.

The research team did pressure mapping and thermal testing to determine the weight distribution and heat- and moisture-dissipating qualities of the Pellicle material on the chair's seat and back.Field studies using a specially designed measuring device examined the relationship between sizes of people and their preference for chair size (Dowell 1995b). Measurements of 224 people – in a sample that was evenly distributed between men and women and that closely reflected the distribution of the US population on most dimensions – found that of all the anthropometric dimensions measured, height and weight had the strongest relationship to chair size preference. The relationship is strong enough to allow us to recommend one of the three chair sizes based on those dimensions.

Although it reveals its aesthetic heritage in lyrical shapes reminiscent of George Nelson designs, organic forms that recall the work of Charles Eames and a spare, athletic aspect that brings to mind its designers' Equa chair, the Aeron chair finally looks only like itself. Its unique form expresses its purpose and use and the material composition of its parts and the way they connect. The slightly 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.

Made largely of recycled materials, the Aeron chair is designed to last a long time, and parts that experience the most wear are easily replaced and recycled. Just what you would expect in a well considered design.

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