November 2012

Symbols of the 90s: The Aeron Chair

Sleek, bizarre and expensive - The dot-com boom in a nutshell!

Slate has a great profile about the design and manufacturing history of the Aeron chair. I have to confess, I had never considered the chair's origins before. For one thing, I always assumed that Herman Miller had designed it. (Isn't that why they called it the "Herman Miller Aeron Chair"?)

I can't think about Aeron chairs without thinking about the dot-com boom of the 90s. When they first arrived on the scene, Aeron chairs looked so bizarre compared to normal office chairs. They looked like UFOs landing in a parking lot full of sedans and minivans. Black, sleek, and made with non-intuitive fabrics. There was no plush, for one thing, just plastic mesh. And yet, people swore they were the most comfortable chairs in the world.
The whole thing was counter-intuitive and genre-breaking and - if you will forgive a bit of 20teens vocabulary - "disruptive." It seemed to encapsulate the rise of the internet, and the counter-intuitive tsunami of dot-com success that swept us all up in its grip.