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Herman Miller Announces Embody, the First Work Chair to Support Both Mind and Body

June 08, 2009

Herman Miller, Inc., the global office furniture manufacturer that has continuously set new standards for seating comfort, ergonomics, and performance, introduces the next groundbreaking innovation in work chairs: the Embody chair, designed by internationally renowned designers Jeff Weber and the late Bill Stumpf.

Embody will be shown in Herman Miller's third floor showroom during the NeoCon World's Trade Fair at Chicago's Merchandise Mart, June 15-17, 2009.

"Our drive at Herman Miller to make the human experience better has yielded many innovations," says Don Goeman, Herman Miller's Executive Vice President--Research, Design and Development. "Over the last 30 years, each of our seating products has built the foundation of research and knowledge for the next. Embody once again reinvents the reference for ergonomics by providing a chair designed to actually enhance your health."

Embody recognizes that almost all knowledge-based, creative work processes have become tethered to the electronic realm. We are bound to our computers for longer periods of time throughout the day. This has contributed to more unhealthy working conditions, because prolonged sitting is bad for you. Chairs hinder movement, yet movement is critical to physical health and mental performance. Extended sitting also stresses tissues and muscles, pressures the spine, and restricts blood flow. The results are physical and mental fatigue, discomfort, distraction, and even costly injury.

"The sitter side of the computer-and-sitter interface has never been adequately addressed," Weber says. "In fact, accommodating technology at the expense of people has become the priority in creating work environments."

These are serious issues in today's idea economy, where people are paid to produce ideas, and companies are seeking tools that help people perform at their best. Stumpf and Weber decided to solve the problem. Stumpf, designer or co-designer of Herman Miller's Aeron, Ergon, and Equa work chairs, came to Herman Miller in 2002 and said, "I think I have one more in me."

Bill Stumpf passed away in 2006, but his partner Jeff Weber, principal of Studio Weber + Associates (formerly Stumpf, Weber + Associates), carried on, giving the chair its final function and form. Working closely with a cross-functional team from Herman Miller, and in consultation with leading figures in academia, healthcare and ergonomics, Weber and Stumpf invented a chair that restores balance to the human/computer relationship by supporting both your mind and your body.

"Embody is a health-positive seating experience," says Weber, "because it enhances both your intake of oxygen and the cellular exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, improving your health and ultimately fueling your brain." A set of important innovations makes this possible:

Instinctive back: Inspired by the human spine, Embody's back adapts to your unique spinal curvature. It lets you move freely and naturally to improve blood flow and eliminate discomfort and distraction. The back is narrow, allowing your arms to move back and forth naturally. This opens up the chest cavity, letting your lungs take in more air and send more oxygen to the brain. Pixelated seat: When you move, the seat moves with you. Using a matrix of pixels, the seat?s unique, three layered construction of materials and technology conforms to micro-movements and distributes weight evenly. Zoned Support: The chair removes stresses on your body at every contact point, accommodating a diverse population. Reduced pressure improves circulation and facilitates the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide within cells. You stay mentally fresh and comfortable. Working Recline: Embody's unique tilt mechanism encourages working recline, the most healthful working position. The chair automatically stabilizes your pelvis in the seat pocket in every position and supports your thoracic back while correctly aligning your eyes with the computer screen. With no uncomfortable and distracting physical constraints on the body, the mind is freed to focus on ideas and the tasks at hand. Inclusive Sizing: Embody accommodates nearly everyone's abilities, dimensions, and preferences within one chair size. The seat surface length can expand or contract to reduce pressure on the thighs without disrupting the user's fully-engaged position in the seat pocket. The seat width accommodates the greatest population of hip-breadth dimension. The chair's arms adjust in height and width to support a full range of work activities and postures.

Embody's form is defined by these health-positive features. The technology of the chair is not hidden. Instead, it's a purposeful part of the aesthetic, giving the chair its intriguing look—a "visual feast," said Stumpf.

Like all Herman Miller products, Embody's design is based in extensive research, including studies of biomechanics, seating behaviors and postures, anthropometric data, metabolic measures, and tissue perfusion (the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in body tissue). Research also confirms Embody's health-positive advantage. For example, research shows that Embody does better than any chair at maintaining oxygen levels in tissue, allowing people to stay focused and engaged. Research also demonstrates that the Embody backrest provides greater support to users' backs compared to other chairs.

Embody supports Herman Miller's commitment to the environment as well, helping Herman Miller reach its environmental sustainability goals of zero landfill, zero hazardous waste generation, and zero VOC emissions by 2020. Embody is MBDC Silver certified and GREENGUARD certified. It has 45 percent recycled content, is 95 percent recyclable and is PVC-free.

About Herman Miller, Inc.
Herman Miller works for a better world around you—with inventive designs, technologies and related services that improve the human experience wherever people work, heal, learn, and live. Its curiosity, ingenuity, and design excellence create award-winning products and services, resulting in more than $2 billion in revenue in fiscal 2008. Innovative business practices and a commitment to social responsibility have also established Herman Miller as a recognized global company. In 2009, Herman Miller was again cited by FORTUNE as both the "Most Admired" in its industry and among the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America, while Fast Company named Herman Miller among the innovative "Companies to Watch." Herman Miller trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MLHR.

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