Since the first cave person sat on a flat rock to carve a tool out of another rock, and wiggled around to get comfortable, the chair has been as important to human evolution as the opposable thumb.
You may have your favorite chair — either worn and comfy, or stiff and supportive — but likely no chair in history has garnered so much customer loyalty as the iconic Herman Miller ‘Aeron’ chair.
According to company lore, Herman Miller was a West Michigan businessman who helped his son-in-law, D.J. De Pree, buy the Michigan Star Furniture Company in 1923. De Pree had been working at the company, which opened in 1905, since he was hired in 1909 as a clerk. De Pree knew his father-in-law was a man of integrity, so he decided to rename the newly acquired company after him.
(Now that’s loyalty.)
By the middle of the 20th century, as any designer, architect, writer or architect will swear to, the name Herman Miller had become synonymous with “modern” furniture. Working with legendary designers George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, the company produced pieces that would become classics of industrial design.
Rhea Roberts, general manager of the new Pasadena Herman Miller store, which recently opened its doors in Old Pasadena, has loved her Aeron chair for a few decades now, and this author is just completing his first decade with his.
The Aeron chair, first designed by Bill Stumpf, along with the Ergon, Equa, and Embody chairs—all featuring the original Pellicle suspension material—is now sold worldwide along with a long line of new chairs with bright colors, as well as those designed for the gaming community.
“Gamers can spend 17 hours in their chairs in tournaments and in their homes,” said Roberts, “And this chair supports them the whole time.”
The new line of gaming chairs also feature an extra layer of copper-infused padding as well as a ventilation system to allow for warmer or cooler chairs, depending on need.
While all of the chairs in the store are impressive in their comfort in their first sitting, Robert explains that there are a range of differences not only in the level of construction, but in the chairs’ usages.
While the gaming chairs are meant to support longer term seating, others such as the Cosm Collection chairs, are meant for office and meeting duty, a few hours at a time.
The Cosm chairs are an angular, sleeker take on the Aeron chair in new colors, but with a basic simplicity in the design and functionality. While some Miller chairs are nearly infinitely adjustable, the Cosm chairs are controlled by one lever. You might never notice the difference.
What’s important, explained Roberts, is that, no matter which chair you choose, that you sit properly in it.
“All your limbs should be at 90 degrees to the floor or to the desk,” she said. “Not so tall that your legs are stretched, or so short that your knees are up too high.”
Robert continued, “You want you to feel good while you’re sitting, and feel good when you get up. And if you are sitting in that right chair, that is gonna make a world of difference.”
Finding a comfortable position in one of the store’s chairs would be the easy part. Choosing one might be more difficult, such is the wonderland of efficient comfort that the store is.
The store is a complete office environment with iconic and one-of-a-kind designs from desk accessories to desk lamps, hanging lamps, and even clocks, all designed and built in the company’s Michigan headquarters.
Along with the dizzying array of state-of-the-art chairs, the Herman Miller Renew Sit to Stand tables are another engineering marvel, as they extend not only tall enough to support someone over six feet tall, but they also will lower to a height of just 22 inches. Thus, a child could work at the table comfortably with crayons, and a decade later, work at the same desk in his or her college dorm.
Now that’s loyalty.
The Herman Miller Retail Store is at 112 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena (213) 458-8074. www.hermanmiller.com.