Aeron-chair codesigner Bill Stumpf dies
September 12, 2006 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Bill Stumpf, Co-Designer of the Aeron Chair, Passes Away at 70 With Don Chadwick, Bill Stumpf designed the Aeron, the first “alternative” office-chair design to become a household name. Stumpf died 30 August 2006 (linked news release is from 5 September)
posted by joeclark (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Aeron Chair
posted by brain_drain at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2006

He also designed the Ergon and the Equa chairs for Herman Miller. Very creative.

posted by caddis at 12:18 PM on September 12, 2006

That's a shame. I'm sitting in one right now. Bought it, geeze, eight years ago now. I've had my ass in it practically every day since, and shows almost no wear. It's dusty in the deep recesses, and the plastic on the arm is cracked in one small spot underneath (where I don't notice it at all), but it's otherwise as good as when I bought it.

They are, in other words, incredibly durable. They cost quite a bit up front, but my experience suggests that if it's comfortable for you now, it'll still be a very comfortable chair a decade later. Maybe more... I think this thing might outlive me!
posted by Malor at 12:20 PM on September 12, 2006

aeron = so comfortable
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2006

My comfy arse salutes you, Sir!
posted by meehawl at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2006

Thanks for the link brain_drain
posted by conch soup at 12:33 PM on September 12, 2006

The sometimes hated Aeron chair has become a symbol of irrational dotcom excess.
posted by tula at 12:33 PM on September 12, 2006

I thought the World's Most Comfortable Chair was created by the Ottoman Empress?
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:37 PM on September 12, 2006

Can't agree, tula. I've been using them both at work and at home for 6 years now, and I never have aches and pains from sitting too long, as opposed to when I used our older padded chairs. It may be that the Aeron just isn't proportioned right for some people's anatomy, e.g., the seat deck is too long for their thighs. One guy in our office has that problem. But most things that plague most people are adjustable and I like the breathability of the seat and back. Just my experience, though. Your mileage may vary.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:41 PM on September 12, 2006

I loved mine at my last job. I warranted a size C--it's the only office chair I've had that was sized correctly for my frame.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2006

The Aeron comes in different sizes to accomodate smaller and larger folks. They are perhaps the best egonomic chairs ever designed. It's still a good idea to get up and move around every 20 to 30 minutes or so, but it is easy to forget in these things. That said, I personally prefer the Equa, I guess just because I have been using them for so long.
posted by caddis at 12:50 PM on September 12, 2006

The Aeron is awesome, I prefer the Steelcase LEAP chair for those of us who aren't comfortable in an Aeron.

(e..g, the LEAP is more fat-guy-friendly).

The Aeron always seemed... fragile.
posted by mrbill at 12:50 PM on September 12, 2006

Fragile? Yeah the wheels keep falling off them Wherever I've worked there's always been an Aeron graveyard in a corner somewhere.

I 've always felt the Aeron was over designed, and over expressed.
posted by marvin at 12:59 PM on September 12, 2006

The Aeron is fragile we have many, many broken ones here at work (the bit that stops the chair reclining gives out a lot) but when they are working they are pretty dang comfy. Being a child of the dotcom era I've had an Aeron in each of my four jobs since '96 :)
posted by zeoslap at 1:01 PM on September 12, 2006

I think "household name" is overstating it a bit. They're common in certain industries & parts of the US, perhaps. But there are a hell of a lot of people that don' t know the name of any office chairs, let alone that particular one.
posted by raedyn at 1:57 PM on September 12, 2006

yula - I totally agree. Well, I guess I don't hate the chairs myself - I think they're okay. I do remember going to the office of the dying internet company my friend worked for, and trying to think of a way to swipe a couple from a room with about 60 unused Aerons. Funny thing was that huge million $ plus contract they had was with Herman Miller's biggest competitor. I bet those chairs seemed pretty uncomfortable that day, when they had the clients with them in the conference room the first time.
posted by glycolized at 2:48 PM on September 12, 2006

I also have a Steelcase Leap, for comfort reasons, but you've got to admit, the Aeron is a spectacular looking piece of furniture. It's just plain sexy, is what it is.

Yes, I might have just admitted that I was sexually attracted to office furniture
posted by Drunken_munky at 4:10 PM on September 12, 2006

posted by drezdn at 4:23 PM on September 12, 2006

caddis: Huh, Equa. We've got tons of those around the office and I guess because of the single-piece back and seat shell I always wrote them off as cheap and to be avoided. The armrests on my Haworth Improv were annoying from day one, being so far forward or back (they're either right under your elbow or under your forearms with your arms in front of you), and doubly so since they're starting to crack, but the only alternatives seemed to be Steelcase Criterions which I can't stand. I will have to nab an Equa and give it a shot.

There's also a lot of chairs that look a lot like low-back Eames Aluminum Group chairs, but painted white and with blue tweed fabric. I've never been able to figure out if they're authentic or knockoffs.

(Related: At university, a lot of lecture halls were filled with row-mounted Eames fiberglass shell chairs. It wasn't until I'd left that I realized those chairs were notable.)

And all this reminds me: Back when we were still a dot-com and not part of the larger company I'm at now, we had Keilhauer Tom chairs with plastic backs. Horrible, horrible things. After we were reorganized a bunch of us took Tom chairs to our new desks -- shortly after that there was a round of layoffs, leaving some of the Toms unoccupied. People kept sneaking around to the empty desks and taking the chairs, which sure looked modern and new -- and then returning them for their old Equa or Improv or Criterion the next day!
posted by mendel at 5:08 PM on September 12, 2006

Whoa-ho! In browsing the Herman Miller website, I learned that my boring grey cubicle is original Action Office! That certainly makes it easier to appreciate.

I think I'm going to see about decorating it to look like it's straight out of a 1970 Herman Miller catalog save for the modern computer.
posted by mendel at 5:17 PM on September 12, 2006

I've had Aerons, and I think they suck. BodyBilt chairs are so much more comfortable, and so much more durable, that their slight additional costs shouldn't even be a decision factor for people looking for quality seating.

Sorry about Stumpf's passing, though. In an era where people were sitting on hard plastic, plywood, and unadjustable wheeled upholstery, he tried to do something intelligent.
posted by paulsc at 6:19 PM on September 12, 2006

I prefer the Steelcase LEAP chair

At home, Equa, at work, Leap. My Equa blows away the Leap, but the Leap is not a bad chair and I do spend an awful lot of time in it. Given my lack of back problems since it replaced an ergonomic mess of a chair many moons ago I have to give the Leap some kudos. I really wanted an Equa but my employer doesn't do Herman Milller. Too bad. HM defines office design. Their chairs are beyond compare, but unfortunately, Steelcase partitions and wiring, while less interesting, are probably sturdier. Still, for chairs, no one even really comes close to HM. They are so far ahead of the pack that it is pathetically funny.
posted by caddis at 12:44 AM on September 13, 2006

I love my Aeron. Here's to you Mr. Stumpf. May your cloud be ergonomic...
posted by ninthart at 4:56 AM on September 14, 2006

He also wrote a pretty good book on design.
posted by blueshammer at 11:15 AM on September 14, 2006

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