Seating: Building Bridges

You can run but you certainly can't hide. No matter how hard you try to get away, it continually rears its ugly head—WORK.

"There's been a move over the past 25 years from just dedicated [work]spaces to dedicated spaces plus everywhere else," says Jack Schreur, director, North American seating, Herman Miller. And so, the folks at Herman Miller decided they needed to make a chair for those "everywhere else" places, such as conference rooms, touchdown workstations, and collaborative spaces. What they came up with was Setu™, a seating collection with a name that means "bridge" in Hindi.

"We needed something that was comfortable, beautiful, ergonomically sound, that worked in all those other places, and worked well with our current offerings," Schreur explains. Thankfully, Berlin-based designers Studio 7.5—of Mirra work chair fame—were on the same page.

"It's a broader sense of the word 'bridge' in that the chair is bridging the comfort of an office chair to applications that didn't have that before," says Burkhard Schmitz, co-founder, Studio 7.5. And because it's a multipurpose chair, Studio 7.5 wanted users to be able to "forget about gravity." Many different types of people needed to be able to sit in it without making a lot of adjustments. So they took inspiration from one of the most popular product introductions of the 21st century—the iPhone. "Your iPhone or your Blackberry is your constant companion. The blurring of work and life demands that kind of attention," says Schreur.

"The iPhone is sophisticated but not intimidating, so we wanted to do the same with the chair," says Carola Zwick, also a co-founder of Studio 7.5. "We especially didn't want any intimidation from the mechanism itself." The goal is that when you sit down, there are no adjustments necessary. The only mechanism available, in fact, is one for seat height. No tilt mechanism is required thanks to Setu's two Kinematic Spines™—spokes that act as a transmission between the seat area and the back area.

"Our visual ambition was to simplify what can be without compromising anything. Having the seat and back together in one continuous surface in a way gives you more of a residential aspect to the chair," says Schmitz. The back and seat are reunited, removing the traditional hinge between the two and reducing visual complexity.

Next thing to be paired down was material. Made with two types of polypropylene, one filled with glass for rigidity and the other one with rubber, the Setu four-star model only weighs 18 lbs. A four-star, five-star, butterfly, butterfly stool, lounge chair, and ottoman are available with more models to come in the future.

In the meantime, Herman Miller believes it has created a new category with the "everywhere else" chair. "Herman Miller has always been the place you could go for high-design and high-performance work chairs," says Schreur. With Setu, its tradition in classic chairs has brought its designed performance pieces to a different level. NeoCon® Space No. 321

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