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A Chair Can Be Unframed

Explore the Sayl design process from inspiration to final product.
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  • Sayl chair wins Interior Design's "Best of Year Product" award in Seating: Contract/Task category.
  • Sayl chair wins FX International's Interior Design Award for Best Workplace Seating.
  • Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) awards a Silver Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) to the Sayl family of seating.
  • Sayl chair wins Reader's Choice award in TreeHugger's Best of Green: Design and Architecture category.
  • Sayl chair named "Product Design of the Year" by the 2010 International Design Awards (IDA) jury.

What's In It For You

Sayl Chairs

Product Story

People at their best live unframed, going beyond expectations to surprise and delight us. With Sayl, we set out to design and build a chair family that gives form to that spirit. Inspired by the principles of suspension bridges, the frameless back of the Sayl work chair encourages a full range of movement while the suspension back material keeps you cool—all with an extremely small environmental impact. It is everything a Herman Miller chair should be. At a very attainable price.

3D Intelligent Suspension Technology

Our work with Yves Béhar achieved a breakthrough in seating technology. Support is molded directly into the 3D Intelligent back material. The suspension material is stretched from the Y-Tower at the back of the chair just as cables are stretched from the towers of a suspension bridge. The tension is greater in the transition areas, from the thoracic to the lumbar areas and between the lumbar area and sacrum. "Hinge points" allow these areas to flex and support the healthy, forward rotation of the pelvis. At the same time, less tension in other parts of the back encourages a full range of seated movement.

The foundational shell of the upholstered work chair mimics the 3D Intelligent suspension. That gives the upholstered chair a healthy balance between support and freedom. An optional lumbar support for the upholstered work chair provides adjustment over a four-inch range.

Sayl Chairs

Family of Seating

We designed a whole family of Sayl chairs, including work and side chairs. All with the same high style and innovative engineering.

Work chairs feature a 5-star base and upholstered seat with either a suspension or upholstered back. Side chairs feature either a 4 leg or cantilever base and upholstered seat with your choice of suspension, upholstered, or plastic backs.

Eco-Dematerialised Design

In creating Sayl, we used fewer materials in inventive ways to make the chair attainable for more people. Fewer parts and less material ultimately mean less cost and a smaller carbon footprint.

The ArcSpan seat base, arm structure, and tilt mechanism undercarriage are fused into a single, strong part, reducing the chair's material content and its visual "weight". The Y-Tower structure is sculpted and hollowed out to achieve the most strength with the least amount of material.

Controls are expressive and tactile. Just as important, they have been refined until only their essential forms remain.

We produce Sayl chairs on three continents to reduce the distance between factory and buyer. Sayl chairs ship ready to assemble (no tools required) in half-size boxes that create less waste.

Sayl chairs contain no PVCs and are 93 percent recyclable.

Sayl Chairs

Attainable Design

As affordable as it is inventive, Sayl disproves the notion that a reasonably priced chair means offhand design and minimal ergonomics. From the beginning, our goal was to make a high-quality, beautifully designed, comfortable chair that lived up to our standards and was also affordable. Sayl is that chair.

Design Story

We asked designer Yves Béhar to design a highly affordable chair that would incorporate everything Herman Miller is known for—beautiful design, first-class ergonomics, elegant engineering, and respect for the environment. Béhar, who calls San Francisco home, began by looking at designs that deliver the most with the least. And then he took a look at his city's best-known landmark: the Golden Gate Bridge.

It was one of those aha! moments. Béhar wondered, could the engineering principles of a suspension bridge be applied to a chair? It turned out that, not only was it possible, but using a suspension tower to support an unframed back would reduce materials, weight, and environmental impact. The flexible elastomer suspension material could be stretched in a way that provided the greatest tension at points where support is needed and the least in areas that would allow for the most expansive range of motion.

So why "Sayl", rather than, say, "Bridge"? Take a look at the chair from the side. See the resemblance to a full mainsail? The name reflects the sailing vessels that pass beneath the bridges that inspired the original design. Replacing the "i" in "sail" with a "y" is a nod to the innovative Y-Tower structure of the work chair.

By rethinking every part of the chair, Béhar and our development team were able to create a better, smarter chair that sets a new reference point in its class for performance, quality, and appearance.