Everyone deserves a good, supportive chair

In developing the original Equa chair, introduced in 1984, designers Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick analyzed plenty of available seating options. “We found that office seating was becoming more specialized in terms of how people sit in chairs and the types of tasks they perform,” Don said. “We wanted the opposite; we believe that a chair has to allow a person to move around, perform a variety of tasks, and sit in a variety of positions throughout the day.”

The Equa 2 seating family: Gray office chair, gray stool, and gray sled-base side chair, all with upholstered seat and back.

The designers also recognized an increasing interest in mechanical and adjustable chairs. “We think a chair has to respond and interact with the person sitting in it, and do that automatically, without requiring the person to manipulate a host of buttons and knobs,” Don added.

Several of the designers’ more personal ideas and values went into the original Equa design, and they are preserved in the Equa 2 chair.

Close view of a gray Equa 2 sled-base side chair, showing contoured seat and back.

Both designers believed that everyone—regardless of size or shape—deserves a good, ergonomically supportive chair. They preferred simple designs both in structure and operation.

They believed that the structure of a chair should be logical, and the materials appropriate. Finally, both enjoyed what they called “designing by analogies.” Looking at familiar designs or things they appreciate—like skis, toys, jukeboxes, bicycles, and a wide variety of other objects—and determining those qualities that make them special. Then incorporating those qualities in their designs.

Key to the chair’s “equitable” design is its one-piece shell. It began its evolution in 1979, when the first iteration showed that by using an H-shaped cut-out, the seat and back could act independently. Several shells were laid up by hand to develop a comfortable shell form. Then the right materials and manufacturing process had to be found. A fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin shaped into a one-piece seat and back using thermoplastic molding produced a strong, flexible, cost-effective, and visually pleasing shell.

An evolution of the original Equa, the Equa 2 chair is designed to accommodate the current nature of work and the work force. Using anthropometric data, three identically proportioned chair sizes were developed to fit the broader ranges of sizes and shapes that characterize today’s more diverse working population.

Front view of a white Equa 2 office chair, showing contoured seat with waterfall edge and soft armrests.

“Everything was about freeing up the body, designing away constraints.”

More about Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick

Product Designers Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick