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A Perfect Fit: The Aeron Office Chair
By Teresa Opdycke
This has got to be the world’s best chair! Ultra-comfortable!
The Aeron chair, a Herman Miller Company ergonomically designed office chair that combines all the elements necessary for comfort, ease of use, cross-performance, and stylish good looks. Named one of the elite designs of the decade in 1998, the Aeron chair continues pleasing and wowing those fortunate enough to spend their days seated in comfort and support. Read on to discover just what makes this particular chair one that so many sitters are giving great reviews about and a hardy thumbs up.
Last update on 2022-06-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Company: Herman Miller
Herman Miller Company manufactures office furniture that rises above and beyond the industry standard through research and design development. With eight design centers throughout the United States and Canada, finding what works best while aesthetically pleasing requires research into what consumers need and want. Herman Miller designers partner with experts in such fields as orthopedics, ergonomics, and physical therapists to outline the criteria needed to create an office chair that allows the sitter comfort while performing tasks. Innovative designs with smooth functionality are tested and retested until the right mix of purpose; support, function, and appearance come together in the Aeron office chair.
Two designers worked together to bring all the elements together in the creation of the Aeron office chair, one of the most comfortable office chairs in existence. Don Chadwick, an industrial designer from Santa Monica, California learned the tools of the trade from his cabinetmaker and carpenter grandfather. Chadwick, a UCLA graduate in industrial design, believes thinking about every aspect of the product from how it will be used to who will use it is the only way to move forward into uncharted territories in the design world. The bottom line in designing an office chair that is meant for long periods of sitting is summed up by Chadwick, “The only way to be sure a chair is comfortable is to actually sit in it and make changes along the way.”
Bill Stumpf teamed with Don Chadwick in the design search for the perfect office chair that offers the best support with components that roll smoothly, and simply said, conform to the body of the sitter yet move freely when the sitter moves. A graduate student and instructor at the University of Wisconsin, Stumpf believed that most design “denies the human spirit.” He joined the team at Herman Miller Research Corporation in 1970. As the designer of the first ergonomic chair, he won numerous awards for his designs. Bill Stumpf passed away on August 30, 2006. His passing leaves a void in the world of industrial design and many thanks from office workers everywhere who find comfort and ease of movement in his beautifully designed chairs.
The Design of the Aeron Chair
The Aeron chair’s unique qualities didn’t just happen. Through research, Stumpf and Chadwick came up with a list of criteria necessary for a chair in which people sit for long periods of the day. Working with orthopedic and vascular specialists unlocked the keys to the mechanics of the human body in a seated position. How individuals sit and how they should sit was a question to be answered as the design process moved forward. Chadwick and Stumpf came up with the following design requirements for an office chair that gives the sitter comfort, support, and style.
Ergonomics of the Aeron Chair
According to the American Heritage dictionary, ergonomics is the “applied science of equipment design intended to reduce operator fatigue and discomfort.” The designers of the Aeron chair felt strongly that a chair should do more than just be part of the office landscape; it must be involved in the comfort and health of the person sitting in it.
The functionality of the Aeron Chair
What is the purpose and how can that purpose best be defined within the design of a chair for office workers who work long hours in the seated position? Stumpf and Chadwick believed that for a chair to be completely functional it must be capable of moving smoothly and adjusting easily. A well-made office chair should have the ability to cross-perform, move with the sitter whether leaning forward or backward or reclining slightly. When the sitter moves away from the chair the seat and back should return to its former state, ready to encompass the next sitter. Without functionality, a chair is just something to sit on, not sit in.
Anthropometry and the Aeron Chair
Anthropometry studies and compares the various sizes of human bodies. One of the basic criteria for the Aeron chair as defined by the designers was the capability to conform to the body regardless of size. The idea that the chair should be anthropometrical and fit each unique individual for comfort and ease of movement, not just accommodating size, would meet a requirement for the perfect office chair.
Environment and the Aeron Chair
An added element to the design of the Aeron Chair included the necessity of being earth-friendly. Along with the characteristics of durability and no need to replace for years and years comes the requirement that moving parts, which will eventually wear out, be easily replaced and the old parts be recyclable. The founder of Herman Miller, D.J. De Pree believed his company should be “stewards of the environment.”
Aeron Chair Components
After completing the research necessary to come up with the required criteria for not just an eye-pleasing chair, but one that works in tandem with the person sitting in it, it was time to begin putting the elements of ergonomics, functionality, anthropometry, and environmentally friendly into an original chair that would surpass all other chairs in comfort and usability.
Stumpf and Chadwick came up with a completely new design that would become the signature shape of an ergonomic chair. The human body curves with no straight lines. For a chair to fit the human form it should be curvilinear visually as well as in the tactile sense. You’ll find not one straight line on the Aeron Chair. It curves and conforms to the shape that sits in it. Once a prototype was built, it was tested and re-tested until both designers were satisfied that the chair performed to all their expectations.
The various elements that come together to form the Aeron chair are exactly what makes it one of the top office chairs. From the ergonomic support to the suspension system to the elegantly contemporary form, this chair was created to answer the key questions of office chairs. Anyone who sits long hours at a desk performing such tasks as computer work, writing, general office work as well as conferencing appreciates a chair that supports and comforts the body. Office environments also play a key role in the productivity of the individual as well as presenting a professional, yet aesthetically pleasing atmosphere to workers and visitors alike. The smooth flowing line of an Aeron Chair achieves both form and function.
Today fifty percent of the labor force comprises white-collar workers who sit at desks for eight hours or more at least five days a week. Working long hours in the seated position places a lot of strain and stress on the lower back and spine. Ergonomic support alleviates the pain that occurs after long periods of sitting with much-needed support, especially below the beltline. Herman Miller calls this “the posturefit difference.” The Aeron chair sports a high and wide back that helps to alleviate the stress put on the lower back. Sloping armrests are wide and soft, adjusting to the height that best suits the individual. A seat that does not restrict the flow of blood to the legs, but allows for good circulation is just good ergonomics.
Comfort through Suspension
The suspension system of an Aeron office chair provides a unique fit to each person who sits in the chair by conforming to the size of the person. A 6’4” 220-pound man requires different space than a petite 100-pound woman. For more than just accommodating size, the Aeron chair molds to the shape of the sitter for long periods of comfortable sitting. Herman Miller developed Pellicle a breathable, mesh-style material that does precisely what is needed; it creates form-fitting comfort with the weight of the sitter evenly distributed. The mesh of Pellicle allows for air movement all around the body making it a cooler and more comfortable sit.
Kinemat tilt, developed by Herman Miller, allows for natural, smooth-flowing transitions from forward to backward to reclining. People at work don’t sit in a perfect spine-aligning upright position all the time. Depending on the task at hand the sitter may lean forward, sit back in the chair, or even recline slightly within a thirty-degree tilt range. The body naturally has the ability to pivot from ankles, knees, and hips. Rotating between computer desk to workspace necessitates seamless motion. The backrest and the seat move in harmony with one another for the support needed regardless of the position the sitter chooses. The designers wanted the chair to respond to the sitter and for the sitter to always be supported.
Today’s office and work environments include many different tasks, but every office includes one basic technology: the computer. From administrative assistant to CEO computers have become the life’s blood of business. Sitting comfortably at a computer encompasses just one of the tasks all in a day’s work for most. Being able to answer phones, rollover to an adjacent workspace, and move about is essential. As each task is performed various ways of sitting ensue. It’s more likely that the sitter will lean forward when reading a computer screen compared to reading a hard copy report which may have the sitter pushing away from the desk and reclining slightly. A cross-performing chair will allow for the transition without the need to physically adjust the chair. It simply moves with the sitter. The importance of chairs that cross-perform increases as the diversity of the workforce broadens. Workers across the spectrum from large males to small females to disabled workers demand chairs in the workplace that fit them and allow freedom of movement. A comfortable worker will achieve more in a day than someone who experiences pain, especially in the lower back or just a general feeling of being physically uncomfortable.
The designers of the Aeron Office Chair wanted an “inclusive look” to the chair. A chair that could blend with classic office motifs or the contemporary clean lines of modern office spaces came into being. A chair that harmonizes with its surroundings no matter if the office ambiance screams sophistication or whispers casual earthy.
With a nod to the environment, the Aeron office chair is earth-friendly. It’s ninety-four percent recyclable and contains sixty-six percent of recycled materials. Of the sixty-six percent recycled materials used in the construction of the Aeron chair, forty-four percent is from post-consumer products and twenty-two percent pre-consumer content. The durable dimension of this chair makes it truly a conscientious part of the ever more environmentally aware companies and manufacturers. The longevity of the chair requires that it be easy to disassemble and remove worn-out moving parts can be replaced with ease and the parts recycled.
The Aeron Office Chair
The Aeron chair lines flow freely in a curvilinear contemporary style. With arms for sitting at a desk, computer, or workspace or without arms to add comfort in conference rooms, both formal and casual, the chair allows for hours of tasking or brainstorming. Choose from an array of neutral colors and three pellicle weaves that best makes a statement and harmonizes with the office interiors. Available in several different colors you can choose a base frame that coordinates with the hue of the pellicle.
The Perfect Fit
No one chair could ever fit every person for every need and the Aeron chair is no different. It’s not a one size fits all chair, which is why Herman Miller offers the chair in three sizes: A, B, or C. Most people will comfortably sit in the size B chair, but there are exceptions to every rule. The A size fits smaller, more petite people who weigh less than the average person. The C size is made to fit the larger framed man with long legs and a hefty weight. By offering these size variations, there’s a chair to fit anyone. When comfort is key the chair must fit the sitter.
Colors and Weaves
With three distinct weaves, Herman Miller answers the aesthetic desires of offices everywhere.
1. Classic pellicle is woven in a sophisticated pinstripe that harmonizes with many different interior styles.
2. Waves pellicle accents a contemporary office interior with soft swells of waves that curve up and down the material mirroring the often found curves and round forms of modern design.
3. Tuxedo, just as the name implies, lends a more elegant sophistication to an office space with a geometric pattern. Executive offices and conference rooms that portray a more upscale look would do well using the Tuxedo weave on the Aeron chairs.
The colors of the pellicle available come from the neutral family and all come with industrial names that give a good idea of the color represented. The frame and base of each chair also comes in three colors. The color of the base or frame may have an impact on the color chosen for the pellicle.
The three color choices for the base and frame of the Aeron office chair are:
2. Polished aluminum
To create an affinity between the color of the base and the color of the pellicle, Herman Miller offers these suggestions, but the decision is ultimately up to the buyer’s preferences. When choosing graphite or polished aluminum frames the following colors work best:
When choosing titanium-colored frames choose one of these Pellicle hues to complement the base:
5. White Gold
The selected colors blend well together and co-ordinate with lighter office environments that reflect the current contemporary style. Both the weave and the colors of frame and pellicle make an interior design statement with functionality and comfort always the priorities.
The Aeron office chair comes with options that may be important to one and not to another, but having options opens the door to the chair that’s perfect for the sitter and perfect for the office environment. Each chair has two height adjustment options: the extended-height-range pneumatic allows for a wider variance in height levels than the standard-height-range pneumatic. A tilt limiter can be set to keep the recline at a minimum or the option that allows the person sitting in the chair to set the tilt range and the seat horizontal or at a five-degree forward tilt. A standard tilt is also available.
Ergonomics is all about keeping the sitter comfortable and safe while working. Herman Miller offers two back support options: Posturefit support offers a custom fit for the lower back area and below the beltline which helps to maintain good posture while eliminating or decreasing lower back pain that some workers experience. The second option is the adjustable lumbar support. A lever is used to find the perfect setting for each individual.
Armrest choices are either non-adjustable or an armrest that can be moved up or down four inches. The final option for the armrest is a fully adjustable armrest that allows the sitter to change the height of the armrest four inches and tilt the arm inward seventeen and a half degrees or outward fifteen degrees.
With so many options in tilts, armrests, back support, and height adjustments there’s bound to be a chair that fits every shape and form comfortably and with healthy advantages to the sitter.
Where to Buy An Aeron Office Chair
The best way to find a dealer for Herman Miller products including the Aeron office chair is through the internet. There are showrooms throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom that carry the finest office chair available, the Aeron chair. Have a salesperson show you all the options available before making a final decision.
The price may seem a bit steep, but this is a chair that is constructed for the long haul. Each chair comes with a twelve year, three-shift warranty on standard elements that includes labor on all warranty work. Only a company that believes in the craftsmanship of their product would offer a warranty that lasts this long. It makes believing in the longevity, durability and timeless design of the Aeron chair that much easier.
Conclusion – Is the Herman Miller Aeron chair worth it?
Millions of workers from all walks of life sit for long periods of time multi-tasking and putting pressure on their lower backs that result in back pain and poor posture. When so much of life is spent working shouldn’t that time be as comfortable as possible? Should workers leave the job at the end of the day with back pain? Of course not! Herman Miller offers an office chair with ergonomics and stylish good looks. A chair that adapts to body types with lower back support and posture improving adjustments. Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick had this to say about their innovative design, the Aeron chair, “People should ‘wear their chairs’ like they wear their shoes. You don’t adjust your shoe every time you put it on. You choose the right size to start with.” Stumpf’s partner added, “Like a shoe that fits, a chair that fits the body has nothing to do with status. Everyone deserves equal comfort.” Why not find yourself cradled gently in a chair that molds to your unique shape that sits at a height level that comforts rather than causes undue stress. The Aeron office chair is the perfect work solution for anyone who sits at a desk working long hours.