Herman Miller Embody Chair
Form doesn’t just follow function with Embody. Function is on full display. This ergonomic office chair’s highly technical structures—such as the spine-like BackfitTM, with its visible H-flexors—show how it bends to encourage seated movement. Embody is purposeful design that creates harmony between your mind and body, and between your body and work.
The result of over 70 years of design research.
"Sitting is bad for you. Embody is good for you."
Leaps of faith, in terms of re-imagining what a chair can be, are nothing new at Herman Miller. But even we were surprised at the radical idea proposed by designers Jeff Weber and Bill Stumpf: Let's design a chair that's more than not bad for you. Let's design one that's actually good for you.
Identifying With Sitting Problems
"Since design has become more technology based, we've had to sit in our chairs in front of computers for longer periods, just like everyone else," Jeff said. "We identify with the problems people have as a result of sitting."
Sitting reduces blood and oxygen flow, which makes you dull and tired. And most of us sit most of the day. Not good.
Too Much Sitting Makes Us Dull
A lot of chairs are designed to keep you still as you sit. The results of that enforced immobility? Bad for you. Did you know that, at the end of an average day, we are 1 centimeter shorter than we were when we woke up? That's because of spinal compression, and much of that is because of sitting for hours and hours. Sitting still also reduces blood and oxygen flow, which makes you dull and tired. And most of us sit most of the day. Not good.
Could We Build a Health-positive Chair?
Bill Stumpf, who designed our Aeron, Equa, and Ergon work chairs and worked for us for more than three decades, brought the idea of a health-positive chair to us. We were intrigued. Could such a chair be designed and made? We had three major ideas to explore before we could begin:
- Work chairs can be health-positive or therapeutic, not merely health-neutral.
- Dynamic surface pressure on a chair and back will provide more comfort, liveliness, and health-positive benefits than non-dynamic surface pressure.
- Work chairs can let us achieve postural equilibrium (the upright balance point when our eyes are vertically aligned with our hips) naturally, no matter what our spinal curvature
Testing and Research
More than 30 professionals—physicians and Ph.D.s in biomechanics, vision, physical therapy, and ergonomics—helped us test these ideas and develop experiments to determine whether a truly health-positive chair was possible. Prototypes followed, with experts sitting in them and offering appraisals of what was good and what wasn't. Researchers conducted laboratory experiments involving kinematics, preferred postures, pressure distribution, seated tasks, and metabolics. These guided the development of Embody and confirmed its health-positive benefits.
A Healthy Connection With Your Computer
After Bill passed away in 2006, Jeff built on Bill's inspiration and gave the chair its function and form. "Design," he says, "is the connective tissue between people and the world." For many of us, our computers are the world, and in creating Embody, Jeff made a healthful, harmonious connection between people and their computers possible.