When industrial designers with Berlin's Studio 7.5 toured the world in 2003 to help office furniture maker Herman Miller Inc. promote the chair they'd designed the Mirra they spent a lot of time in conference rooms, sitting in uncomfortable chairs.
So they decided to create a better multipurpose chair for those conference rooms, and as they did with the Mirra, they relied extensively on plastics.
The Herman Miller Setu, which debuted at the office furniture industry's NeoCon showcase June 15-17 in Chicago, uses a blend of two polypropylene resins to form a structural spine that supports the user, yet allows for flexibility. One of the resins provides stability, the other flexibility. Studio 7.5's Mirra design used structural nylon in place of metal.
The Setu's spine is made of two matching PP structures flanking either side of the seat and back. They feature a geometric design that offers stability in some spots and flexibility in others so that the chair moves with the user. The two pieces support a suspended textile seat, similar to Herman Miller's Aeron chair.
The finished product requires no adjustments beyond seat height, noted Zeeland, Mich.-based Herman Miller in a news release.
There's nothing to tilt, nothing to tweak, nothing to think about, the company noted.
Most conference room seats now on the market have a one-piece seat and back. That configuration does not fit a user's body, but is less expensive to produce. Typically, comfort was not seen as a problem, since the seats traditionally were not used for long.
But that does not mean those seats should be uncomfortable.
Providing flexibility through the PP spine simplifies the overall design, Herman Miller executives said, while also making the Setu simpler to manufacture, easier to recycle and lighter weighing in at less than 20 pounds. The Setu goes into full production later this year.