December 4, 2012
“Good design is a blend of art and science,” explains designer Jeff Weber. “Using that combination to positively impact how people live and work is really exciting.”
As a kid, Weber was fascinated by the way things worked. “I was always tinkering—either building things or tearing them apart,” he says. Following a suggestion from his grandfather, Weber became interested in industrial design. “I never really thought about doing anything else,” he recalls.
As co-creator of the Embody Chair, alongside Bill Stumpf, Weber worked closely with optometrists, neurologists, and other medical specialists to learn how to “support the body in a healthful way and enable motion.” The resulting design is pleasing to the eye and has been shown to lower the sitter’s heart rate and reduce stress—good for both mind and body.
For Weber, the hard work pays off when he sees someone sitting in a chair and appreciating it. “That’s the most satisfying part.”
Design, Well-Being, What's Up
July 17, 2012
Good design solves a problem. But how does a designer know which problem to solve? For Jeff Weber, a personal experience related to a foot injury made it clear there was a problem with standard-issue crutches.
After just two days of hobbling around, Weber was suffering from “an all-out assault” on his body. Sore armpits, irritated skin, and numb hands, stemming from nerve compression and restricting blood flow, were impeding his recovery. Clearly a problem to be solved.
Familiar with ergonomics, Weber set out to design a crutch with mobility in mind. Looking to reduce secondary injuries, conserve physical energy, and improve the overall recovery experience, the final design of Mobilegs looks more like a distant cousin of the Aeron chair than a traditional crutch. (Weber worked alongside Aeron designer Bill Stumpf and co-designed the Embody work chair.)
One of the most striking differences is the under-arm saddle. A pliable membrane sling provides suspended support, not unlike the suspension seat of Aeron, and articulates on two pivot points to keep the saddle in constant contact with the underarm. The single-component structure of the shaft “facilitates a better hip-to-hand clearance,” explains Weber, and “allows the walker to move through doorways and narrow passages more easily.”
Had designer Jeff Weber never hurt his foot, the plight of crutch users around the world may have gone unnoticed.
Design, Products, What's Up
March 16, 2011
Many of us have lived this story: a parent or other loved ones who want nothing more than to stay in their own home as they age. The issue is gaining attention because the first 70 million Baby Boomers hit 65 years old in 2011. Their home-related needs will have a significant impact on home and product design.
That impact is explored in an exhibition called “Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future” at the University of Minnesota’s Goldstein Museum of Design in St. Paul. It will be on display until May 22, 2011. The exhibition explores the housing trend of “aging in place,” which allows people to stay in their home by using products with adaptive technologies and by making simple adjustments to their living environment.
Featured in the exhibition is Mobilegs, from Mobi, an innovative mobility device developer in Minneapolis. Mobilegs is a breakthrough in crutch design that makes it easier, safer, and more comfortable to get around. It’s designed by Jeff Weber of Studio Weber + Associates. He also designed Herman Miller’s Embody chairs, Caper chairs, and Envelop desk, which are among the products featured in the Smart House as well.
Design, Healthcare, Products
February 28, 2011
Photo via Popular Science
Think about crutches. Most of us don’t until we experience the difficulty and discomfort of using them. Crutches can damage nerves, arteries, and tissue, and it’s easy to slip and cause more pain or more injury.
Here’s a better way. It’s called Mobilegs, from Mobi, a Minneapolis-based designer of mobility products. Mobi, born out of Studio Weber + Associates, seeks to transform our perception and function of mobility devices like crutches, making them more comfortable, better-designed, and more customizable.
Mobilegs is so innovative, it was named Best of What’s New for Health for 2010 by Popular Science magazine, which reads, “Mobilegs takes the design to the 21st century with modern materials and careful attention to ergonomic factors (which should come as no surprise given that their inventor helped design the Aeron chair).”
That inventor is Jeff Weber, of Studio + Weber, who also designed Herman Miller’s Embody chair, Caper chair, and Envelop desk. “I work to humanize the relationship between people, products, and the world around us,” Jeff says. He was inspired by a 2005 foot injury that made him all too aware of the crutch problem. “The traditional crutch was not designed to accommodate the mechanics of the human body. Mobilegs does just that.”
Design, Products, Technology
February 5, 2010
Recently, the Associated Press distributed an article about how “sitting too much could be deadly.” A number of regional newspapers, including my hometown Chicago Tribune picked it up. As a furniture industry veteran and seating researcher for the better part of two decades, it was too broad—and dire—a statement for my personal comfort.
In helping designers like Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber to develop Herman Miller products—from stacking chairs, such as Caper, to high-performance work chairs, such as Embody—I’ve learned that sitting, comfort, and health are not so cut-and-dried.
In the 1990s I began using pressure map technology, which visualizes what the seat and sitter interface looks like—and how it changes depending on seat construction and the posture of the sitter. These changes translate to comfort or discomfort for the user.
More recently, in the course of our Embody chair development, I commissioned researchers at both the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Milwaukee’s Marquette University, who measured the amount of oxygen in the blood flowing to and from subjects’ lower extremities and heart rate–key health measures. It turns out, both improved when users sat in the Embody chair, versus other chairs, doing the same seated tasks in both.
So, it’s not a simple question of sitting down or standing up—but where and how you’re sitting.
June 15, 2009
At NeoCon this year, our showroom demonstrated how we work for a better world around you. Check out our video series for an overview of the space and highlights of the products we offer. Each is designed to improve your environment whether it’s an office, hospital, school, home, an entire building, or the world at large.
June 12, 2009
Jeff Weber and his visionary design partner, the late Bill Stumpf, set out to create a chair that solved a problem no one else was addressing—the lack of harmony between people and their computers. The result was the Embody chair, which bloggers are calling Herman Miller’s “uber-chair” and “the best chair we’ve ever sat on.”
To find out more about Embody, Marc Levin of OfficeDesigns.com interviewed Jeff Weber, designer of the Embody chair. Here are excerpts from that interview.