Herman Miller Inc. is looking to bring its experience in both design and comfort out of the office and into the hospital.
In February, Herman Miller purchased Brandrud Inc., which specializes in patient seating used in clinics and hospitals.
Now the company that changed the look of high-end executive seating with its plastics-intensive Aeron chair has introduced two new treatment chairs designed to change the way patients and medical professionals alike think about furniture.
``The thought in clinical or hospital rooms tends to be all about cleanability and low cost, and not enough attention has been paid to ergonomics and comfort,'' said Herman Miller spokesman Mark Schurman, during the June 9 introduction of the Nala and Cente chairs at the furniture industry's NeoCon World's Trade Fair in Chicago.
Both chairs use structural plastics, with powder-coated glass-filled nylon bases and polyurethane arms. The Nala, designed extensively within Herman Miller before its purchase of Brandrud, also uses a similar structural plastic inside the textile-covered back, which is based on the plastic back in the firm's office chairs. The Cente has an encapsulated polyester back.
Holland, Mich.-based Herman Miller already made a range of hospital desks, tables and storage units when it first developed an alliance with Brandrud, based in Auburn, Wash., in 2005. For more than two years, Herman Miller distributed Brandrud's patient seating, but late last year, announced it wanted to move more strongly into health-care seating and would buy Brandrud to help boost both firms' market access.
``The acquisition enables Herman Miller to gain access to a proven product portfolio that strengthens and expands our health-care offering,'' Chief Executive Officer Brian Walker said when the company announced its planned buyout.
The Nala chair is designated for use in settings when patients will be sitting for long periods, such as during kidney dialysis, and can be reclined into multiple positions.
``We knew it was time to develop a seating product that dramatically improves the patient experience,'' said Beth Nickels, president of the firm's Herman Miller for Healthcare division.
The Cente, meanwhile, gives greater emphasis to shorter-term patient seating, along with a pivoting center of gravity that makes it easier for nurses or other medical professionals to maneuver patients in and out of the chair, with reduced risk to straining their own muscles.