The result of decades of painstaking design research

What if a chair could do more than just minimise the negative effects of sitting? That was the radical idea that Jeff Weber and the late Bill Stumpf had in their design studio. Could they design a chair that actually had positive effects on the body? “You can’t design without empathy,” said Weber, who also designed our Caper chair. “Since design has become more technology based, we’ve had to sit in our chairs in front of computers for longer periods, just like everyone else. We identify with the problems people have as a result of sitting.”

Front view of a blue Embody office chair, showing the seat, back, and adjustable arms.
Blue Embody office chair at a black Envelop Desk.

Could we build a health-positive chair?

Bill Stumpf, who designed our Aeron, Equa and Ergon work chairs and worked for Herman Miller for more than three decades, brought the idea to us. Could such a chair be designed and made? Early on, we discussed the idea with the experts, testing three hypotheses: Work chairs can be health-positive or therapeutic, not merely health-neutral.

Dynamic surface pressure on a chair and back will provide more comfort, liveliness and health-positive benefits than non-dynamic surface pressure. Work chairs can let us achieve postural equilibrium (the upright balance point when our eyes are vertically aligned with our hips) naturally, no matter what our spinal curvature.

Testing and research

Expert input on these hypotheses fuelled Weber and Stumpf’s early thinking about the chair and formed the basis of experiments designed to establish whether such a chair was possible. But Bill passed away in 2006. Weber carried on. As Embody’s designer, it was he who gave the chair its function and form, building on Bill Stumpf’s inspiration.

Full front view of a light gray Embody office chair with black armpads.
Three-quarter rear view of a green Embody office chair, showing back support.

Creating a healthy connection

Prototypes followed, with experts sitting in them and offering appraisals of what was good and what wasn’t. Researchers conducted laboratory experiments involving kinematics, preferred postures, pressure distribution, seated tasks and metabolics. These guided the development of Embody and confirmed its health-positive benefits.

“Design is the connective tissue between people and the world.”

More about Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber

Product Designers Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber

Awards

  • Embody chair receives FX International Interior Design award in Best Workplace Seating category.

    2009
    Embody chair receives FX International Interior Design award in Best Workplace Seating category.
  • Embody chair receives Best of NeoCon Silver in the Ergonomic Desk/Task Seating category.

    2009
    Embody chair receives Best of NeoCon Silver in the Ergonomic Desk/Task Seating category.
  • Embody chair named "Best of 2008" by WIRED magazine.

    2008
    Embody chair named "Best of 2008" by WIRED magazine.