Today would have been Bill Stumpf’s 75th birthday. Bill, along with Don Chadwick, brought us the revolutionary Aeron chair.
Stumpf also had a hand in the Embody chair, the Envelop desk and the Ethospace office system.
“I work best when I’m pushed to the edge. When I’m at the point where my pride is subdued, where I’m an innocent again. Herman Miller knows how to push me that way, mainly because the company still believes—years after D.J. De Pree first told me—that good design isn’t just good business, it’s a moral obligation. Now that’s pressure.”
Stumpf also credits his ground breaking designs for Herman Miller with time studying and teaching at the University of Wisconsin’s Environmental Design Center ”Everything goes back to those days at the University of Wisconsin,” he said. It was at the Center that he had the chance to work with specialists in orthopedic and vascular medicine. He conducted extensive research into not just the ways people sit—and the ways they should sit. ”Everything was about freeing up the body, designing away constraints.”
Bill Stumpf died in 2006 and it was a great loss to the design community. He believed that “Art and design give us the skills to survive–both physically and spiritually.” We still miss him. Below is Stumpf talking about how he designs a chair.