At $1600 a pop, is the market really ready for a new big thing?
Herman Miller says its got the next big thing and it went into production last October. It’s the Embody chair. Embody is the last concept of the late Bill Stumpf, perhaps the greatest work-chair designer we’ve seen, whose many design (and codesign) contributions to MLHR– Ergon, Equa, and Aeron chairs and HMI’s Ethospace system – have brought revenues of about $3 billion to the company. Mr. Stumpf, of course, had collaborators, and Embody was conceived with Jeff Weber in Stumpf Weber + Associates (now, Studio Weber + Associates), and developed with a cross-functional team from Herman Miller and consultants from academia, with experts in the fields of healthcare and ergonomics.
If Herman’s Miller’s enthusiasm is at a high pitch, the company has earned its soap box. Few will question that HM’s introduction of the Aeron chair in 1995 popped the cork on what turned out to be the most successful office furniture product in history and, in its wake, brought along what is now a growing array of fine work/task chairs from diverse manufacturers. In the thirteen years since Aeron’s introduction, many have wondered how HMI wouild follow that act. The answer has been, “more Aeron,” as the chair was improved very substantially by the addition of the Posture Fit back support and the very attractive and refined pellicle offerings designed by Martha Burns. In the meanwhile, the company introduced a two additional task chairs – Mirra and Celle; while these chairs are at slightly reduced price points, each is a very fine chair in its own right that introduced new technology and concepts that are carried forward into Embody. What does it take to create a great chair. Herman Miller thinks it has the answer.