Apple is leading a revolution in office chairs

“If you know one office chair by name, it’s probably the Aeron. Released in 1994, its radical, high-tech exoskeleton design was a sensation, and the chair went on to become that rare piece of furniture to emerge as a pop-­culture signifier,” Cliff Kuang reports for Bloomberg Businessweek. “In 1995 it appeared as the lone piece of set decoration in a Levi Strauss & Co. Super Bowl commercial; later, it served as a plot point in an episode of Will & Grace.”

“The Pacific, a task chair from Swiss furniture giant Vitra that hits the market this winter, illustrates how ideas about work have changed since then,” Kuang reports. “It comes in three backrest heights and a plastic or aluminum finish; it can be upholstered with four fabrics in dozens of hues, ranging from pale pink to sandy beige. There are also two types of leather — including one in a smooth cowhide with a flat grain and fine top sheen — in an additional 22 colors. The base price is $1,185, but a high-backed, premium caramel leather version runs closer to $3,500.”

Vitra's Pacific task chair
Vitra’s Pacific task chair

 
“It has far to go to duplicate the Aeron’s success — 1,500 of the latter are sold every day, making it 7 million since 1994. A new one pops off the assembly line every 17 seconds,” Kuang reports. “But the Pacific has already racked up what might be the highest honor any design can receive in 2017: Its first customer was Jony Ive, Apple Inc.’s chief design officer. Ive is friends with Barber and Osgerby; during a social visit soon after they landed the Vitra commission, they sketched their early idea for him. Ive, as it happened, wasn’t finding any chairs he liked for Apple’s new 12,000-person headquarters designed by architect Norman Foster. ‘He looked, raised an eyebrow, and said, ‘That’s interesting,” Osgerby recalls. Ive eventually ordered one for every office desk on campus, each fitted with a custom-made fabric in a serene, deep-sea blue.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s a nice sale.

20 Comments

  1. $1,185 for a chair… Have unfashionable chairs been Apple’s problem for the last several years? Will we finally get relatively bug free software again and regularly updated Macs? 😉

    1. To sum it up in one word for both questions… No!

      That darn iPhone seems to be using up most of Apple’s efforts and resources and it’s still not enough for Wall Street to appreciate. I think Apple needs to look for additional ways of boosting revenue and acquiring a few decent software firms would be a good place to start.

    2. Maybe chairs aren’t the problem, but they could well be part of the solution. When you’re paying each engineer a million dollars every 4 to 7 years, why NOT provide them with a $2K monitor and a $2K chair, each of which lasts for years? Skimping on comfort at the expense of job satisfaction and productivity would be “pound foolish.”

  2. I’m sure they’re nice chairs, but not $1,185-$3,500 worth of nice. However, I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who see that amount as pocket change, to which, I’m sure, this company’s motto is, “There’s a (rich) sucker born every minute.”

  3. I only know 1 office chair by name and that is Obusforme I have been using the same 1 since 1993. The only issue I have with it is the levers for changing position after 24+ years have started to dry out and are getting brittle. this chair was $500 back in 1993 not sure what they go for now, but it was still a great investment. Now if only I can talk my employer into getting me anew one that will last until I am dead and gone.

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