On View: Special Exhibition Gallery, 4th Floor
Thomas E. Warren’s “Centripetal Spring” chair is the forerunner of Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf’s Aeron chair, designed nearly 150 years later. Both are made principally of metal, raised on casters for mobility, rotate on a central column, and allow for adjustment of the angle of the seat. The very different look of the chairs suggests the ways that consumer attitudes toward industrial invention and modernity have evolved over the centuries. Although Warren’s chair bears a patent mark (on the bottom of the seat), he felt the need to mitigate the newness of his invention by concealing its ingenious metal spring system beneath a dense, soft curtain of luxurious passementerie (elaborate trim). Similarly, he disguised his progressive use of cast iron for the frame by rendering it in the backward-looking Rococo Revival style and gilding it. In contrast, the makers of the Aeron chair reveal its mechanical elements, celebrate its recycled man-made materials, and use a monochromatic black to underline the seriousness of the design, all without fear of losing customers.
Recycled aluminum, recycled polymer
40 3/4 x 28 1/4 x 21 3/4 in. (103.5 x 71.8 x 55.2 cm) (show scale)
"Herman Miller" molded into back of chair crest, at center. Underneath chair seat: White paper adhesive label indicating product's conformation to California's laws regarding flammability.
Gift of Herman Miller Inc.
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Don Chadwick (American, born 1936). Aeron Chair, designed 1994. Recycled aluminum, recycled polymer, 40 3/4 x 28 1/4 x 21 3/4 in. (103.5 x 71.8 x 55.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Herman Miller Inc., 2005.65. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2005.65_PS2.jpg)
overall, 2005.65_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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Black biomorphic swivel armchair raised on base of five castors radiating from central pedestal. Underneath chair seat is lever/pump mechanism to adjust seat height, etc, encased in molded black plastic, white graphics on rounded lever handles indicate usage. Wide seat of stretched black elastic material with a perforated vertical stripe pattern, the front of the chair seat curving downwards. Two adjustable padded biomorphic rectangular armrests emerge from sides of chair back. Trapezoidal chair back, also of stretched black elastic material of same perforated vertical pattern, curves back at crest. A firm ridged oval support pillow behind lower seat back.
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