Even if you do not know the name of this chair, I am sure that you would recognise the chair by seeing an image of it. The Aeron office chair has become a hugely iconic chair that has and probably will stand the test of time, not only for its aesthetics but for its innovative technology and its ergonomic properties.
The chair was originally launched in 1994 and quickly became the “must-have” chair for the rich and the tech-heads in Silicon Valley. The office chair, originally costing more than $1,000 became popular, being spotted in magazines, TV and films. The design of the chair was completely alien at the time and the mesh material had not really been used on chairs of a similar type before. The chair itself, designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick and manufactured by Herman Miller, was not intended for use by the rich.
The Aeron chair is arguably the only office chair to become so recognisable and become a well-known brand; however it was a long struggle to get the chair into production, ten years in fact.
Herman Miller originally hired Stumpf and Chadwick to investigate the potential value in manufacturing furniture for the elderly. This was an area that was not really explored and was dominated by the La-Z-Boy. There were quite a few disadvantages to the La-Z-Boy chairs, the elderly users of the chairs found it hard to get in and out of the chairs, the cushioning did not spread the weight of the user properly and nearly all the chairs were covered in vinyl that was not breathable and encouraged bed sores.
It was for these reasons that the Sarah chair was born. Similar to the La-Z-Boy, the Sarah chair was upholstered in fabric, so was breathable and instead of the cushioning being mounted on a wooden box, it was placed on stretched fabric wrapped around a plastic frame. Even though everyone who sat in the chair seemed to give positive feedback, it seemed that they could not find retailers willing to sell the chairs.
This is what lead the duo to create the Aeron chair, a designer chair that could be commercially sold.