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  • Rhona Jamieson

Aeron at Thirty - The Design Classic Inspiring a New Generation

Four Aeron office chairs in different shades of grey

It’s an icon of modern office furniture and this year marks thirty years since the Herman Miller Aeron was born.

Known as the original ergonomic office chair, it was conceived by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick after extensive research into how best to support people while they work.

The initial reaction when Herman Miller first showed it to people was to reject it, so out of step was it with their tastes and expectations. Many assumed it to be some sort of prototype but the elements of its design that they couldn’t reconcile with their preconceptions of a chair would soon come to be changed.

The Aeron reshaped the workplace furniture market and has captivated not only office workers but film directors, tv producers and even gallery curators. God is pictured sitting on an Aeron in an episode of The Simpsons, it’s used by the head of MI5 in Casino Royale and was added to the permanent collection at New York’s MoMa before it was even released.

But what is it that makes it so special and sets it apart from other chairs when it came on the market? The Aeron was an answer to the science of sitting in ways that hadn’t been considered previously.

The innovative ‘pellicle’ mesh seat and back moulds to the user and was more breathable than traditional foam and upholstered chairs. There is full spinal support thanks to the adjustable lumbar support and the chair’s tilt mechanism offers balanced recline and natural movement. All these aspects help the user to stay comfortable even after long hours of sitting. With three different sizes, it was also intended to be more inclusive and suitable for a full range of body types.

It may be three decades since the Aeron was first thrust upon the office world, but the design has not remained static. Throughout the Noughties, a number of smaller changes were made before a fully updated design was introduced in 2016.

The Classic v Remastered Aeron office chair

With input again from original co-designer Don Chadwick, the Aeron Remastered had a lighter, slimmer mechanism, a new pellicle mesh with eight different zones to support the body better, and an improved adjustable spinal support.

Herman Miller didn’t stop there though with the latest updates improving the environmental story of the Aeron. It’s now made with 50% recycled materials including plastic rescued from heading to the world’s oceans. Over 90% of the chair’s components can now be recycled too at the end of the chair's life. However these chairs are built to last, with a 12 year warranty as standard, so it may be a while before that day comes.

With the classic colour palette now complimented by the black Onyx version, the Aeron creates a powerful statement whatever workplace it’s placed in. It broke the mould thirty years ago and still inspires furniture designers today.

A staple of Wellworking’s product offering and one of our best sellers, we’re sure it will continue to be a firm favourite for many years to come.



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