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The History of Office Chairs

Office chairs date all the way back to around 1900 BC, when Egyptian artisans sat in specially designed stools that accommodated the leaned-forward position required by their work. Then in the early 1840s, Charles Darwin created a “wooden armchair on wheels” so that he could easily maneuver throughout his workspace. The mid-19th century also gave rise to Thomas E. Warren’s Centripetal Spring Armchair, which he invented to meet the needs of office clerical workers. In 1904, Frank Lloyd Wright created the Larkin Building chair; it was designed to help typists with comfort and posture but unfortunately tipped over frequently. The ergonomic office chairs we are familiar with today didn’t get their start until the 1970s. During this decade, Emilio Ambasz and Giancarlo Piretti designed the Vertebra chair, which was one of the first automatically adjustable chairs. In 1976, a Herman Miller designer named Bill Stumpf created the Ergon chair, which is considered a pioneering product in the task chair design industry. In the 1990s, Herman Miller’s Bill Stumpf collaborated with Don Chadwick and together they released another famous chair, the Aeron chair. Today, there are many ergonomic office chairs on the market and new design innovations continue to be made each year.

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