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!
"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 look-alikes." 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."
Own the problem, and define it as deeply as you can. Bill Stumpf echoed this mantra on every project he took on for Herman Miller, but perhaps never more completely than with the groundbreaking Aeron Chair. Working with Don Chadwick, Stumpf began thinking about what a chair ought to do for you by consulting people who spend a lot of time in chairs—older people in retirement centers. When Stumpf and Chadwick took what they learned and applied it to work seating, they started a revolution in ergonomics.
With its aeration, inclusive sizing, support for the natural ways the human body moves when seated, and environmentally sensitive design, Aeron challenged practically every convention about office chairs. It wasn’t upholstered. It wasn’t padded. And its designers’ ideas about what they called “cross-performance” work—a mix of high-intensity tasks and casual interaction—anticipated the realities of today’s workplace, where the technological and social aspects of work have become increasingly intertwined.