Herman Miller turned to designers Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf to design a totally new kind of chair. Chadwick's and Stumpf's previous collaboration had produced the groundbreaking Equa chair.The two designers began this development process with a clean slate, with no assumptions about form or material, but with some strong convictions about what a chair ought to do for a person.
Ergonomically, it ought to do more than just sit there. It should actively intercede for the health of the person who sits in it longer than she should. Functionally, it ought to move and adjust as simply and naturally as possible. It should support a person in any position he cares to assume, at any task his office job serves up. Anthropometrically, it ought to be more inclusive than its predecessors. It should do more than accommodate small or large people; it should really fit them. Environmentally, it ought to be benign. It should be sparing of natural resources, durable and repairable, designed for disassembly and recycling. The design that fulfilled these criteria met all expectations and shattered some of them. It wasn't upholstered. It wasn't padded. It was dimensioned in three models that looked exactly alike and that had nothing to do with their users' job titles. It didn't look like any other office chair. And its revolutionary concept incorporated more patentable ideas than any previous Herman Miller research program.
"It was a matter of deliberate design to create a 'new signature shape' for the Aeron chair," says designer Bill Stumpf. Competitive ergonomic chairs became look-alikes. Differentiation was a huge part of the Aeron design strategy, and it remains one of, if not the most, critical aspects of Aeron's success. "The human form has no straight lines, it is biomorphic. We designed the chair to be above all biomorphic, or curvilinear, as a metaphor of human form in the visual as well as the tactile sense. There is not one straight line to be found on an Aeron chair."
"The Pellicle was equally a deliberate design strategy in that its transparency symbolizes the free flow of air to the skin in the same way lace, window screens, and other permeable membranes permit the flow of air or light or moisture. The transparency of the chair as a visual element was in keeping with the idea of transparent architecture and technology, which Aeron pioneered in advance of Apple's transparent iMac computers. Transparency is a major design movement. Its purpose is to make technology less opaque, to communicate the inner workings of things, and to make objects less intrusive in the environment. Aeron is a non-intrusive chair."