N/A N/A Knoll, Design Within Reach N/A
U.S.A. (1936). Chairs are for sitting on. It sounds obvious, but there are designers who seem to miss that point. Not Don Chadwick, however, who has developed some of the best chairs on the market – including the Aeron Chair with Bill Stumpf – by emphasizing the body and the fact that bodies move. Chadwick calls his hands-on studio in Santa Monica an “experimental lab,” one that contains the workman’s apparatuses of saws, grinders, lathes, drill presses and vises. It is not a place where design takes place by computer, number or hypothesis. “The only way to be sure a chair is comfortable is to actually sit in it and make changes along the way,” Chadwick says. “A computer can’t deal with the subtleties of chair design. It’s too complex.” Chadwick inherited his love of furniture design from his cabinetmaker grandfather, who taught him to use the tools of the trade – hand tools that required skill, precision and patience. Later, at UCLA in the mid-1950s, he focused on furniture design, and after a Charles Eames lecture there, was convinced. Furniture offered designers the chance to use materials in new ways and to make a real difference in people’s lives. After graduating from UCLA, he worked in the architectural offices of Victor Gruen & Associates and then established his own design office in 1964. Chadwick has long partnered with Herman Miller, designing a modular seating system in 1974 and then collaborating with former V.P. of design research at Herman Miller, Bill Stumpf. Together, they created the ergonomically based Ergon Chair, the Equa seating system and the highly innovative Aeron Chair, which was chosen as the Design of the Decade by the Industrial Design Society of America and Business Week magazine.