May 7, 2013
He may be a full-time web designer and developer, but one look at the home workspace of Brad Cerasani and you know he’s also got music in his blood. In fact, the owner of the web shop Shedbot has written, recorded, and produced two albums with a trio called Hoist from his Winnipeg, Manitoba-based studio. Get a look at the high-tech haven in this latest tour. Read more
January 26, 2012
For the past few weeks Susan Lyons, our Materials Creative Director, has covered Herman Miller’s five material design principles over on our Discover blog. We’ve heard about honesty, utility, economy, pleasure, and possibility and the role these principles play in helping us choose the materials for our designs.
One principle is particularly relevant to Lifework readers: It’s the idea of utility. Lyons talks about utility in connection to Embody – a chair that finds its way into many a home office. “When we talk about material utility,” Lyons says, “what we really mean is that we use materials to solve problems.”
To hear Lyons talk about the rest of the principles simply follow these links: honesty, economy, pleasure, possibility.
To find a home office chair check out our tips on how to choose the right one for you. (And FYI – we’re now shipping our most popular office chairs for $29. Read all about that here.)
Balance, Design, Products
January 3, 2012
It’s that classic Goldliock’s moment anyone with a home workspace has suffered through. Trying to find just the right office chair. It has to be ergonomic. That is a given. For me it had to have good back support, a seat that doesn’t cut off circulation in your legs and arm rests to keep RSI at bay.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
June 1, 2011
What is the ideal desk chair? It turns out that is a very hard question to answer and one that we’ve been exploring for over 35 years. For us it has always been a question of ergonomics – that fascinating place where people and their tools interact. In fact, the late Bill Stumpf spent 11 years studying how the human body could sit comfortably, how we interact with not just our chairs but also the work surface and our work tools. The result was the Ergon chair which went public in 1976 and is still produced (for more check out the chair slideshow over on Discover).
Today Gretchen Gscheidle, Director of Insight and Exploration, for Herman Miller, who helped Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber develop products including the Aeron and Embody, continues our research into ergonomics. Gscheidle, who trained as an industrial designer and product developer, is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and represents Herman Miller on the Office Ergonomics Research Committee. She knows a thing or two about sitting.
Clockwise from top left: Aeron, SAYL, Mirra, Embody
1. How do you choose an ergonomically-correct chair? Should you match the chair to the kind of back problem you may have? There are 3 rules in ergonomics, seating and otherwise: fit the user, fit the task, allow postural change and movement. The fitting depends on your body – size, shape, proportions. I for one have a long torso, short arms, so I’m extra focused on armrest height.
You must sit in the chair. If you have chronic issues or even temporary discomforts, yes, you’re going to gravitate toward those chairs that deliver the support where you need it. Fitting also requires “tuning” the chair’s adjustments. There’s often an “ah-ha” when you know everything just feels “right.”
There are plenty of pre-conceptions about what that should be. I encourage people to approach seating with an open mind – there are some amazing technologies in seating – and get some expert advice in the process.
Then you also have to take into consideration what tasks you’re going to be doing in the chair. Reclining is healthy for the back in that it offloads the weight of the upper back onto the chair – but you can’t do that if you’re sitting on an exercise ball, as some people choose to at work. Conversely, if you’re looking through a microscope or needing to look down at your hands as you’re sorting materials, reclining doesn’t do you much good there.
Finally, you need to keep moving so you don’t want to be locked into one posture the way that, say a race car driver is in a custom-molded seat.
February 10, 2010
Over at our sister blog, Discover, there’s a great post on the science of sitting. As it turns out it’s a lot to do with blood flow to your bottom! Which I guess makes sense. Gretchen Gscheidle, who wrote the post and is a scientist and artist, has worked with Herman Miller on perfecting their designs for decades. She was reacting to a study published in the Chicago Tribune that found the “sitting too much could be deadly”. Don’t you love a newspaper headline? In the 1990s Gretchen 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.” It all sounds rather technical but the results have given us super comfortable chairs like Embody.
For Embody Gretchen commissioned researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Milwaukee’s Marquette University, to measure “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 is OK to sit. Thank goodness. Although, it’s also probably a good idea to get up off that chair – at least once or twice a day. After all, you’ve got to eat lunch after all.
[The photo of the Embody chair above is from se7enthirty's review]