The Aeron Chair is one of the most popular and well-regarded chairs on the planet. It’s been feted by critics, art lovers, office workers, and design enthusiasts since the day it was released; housed in museums and major office complexes; written about in gushing tones and respectful paragraphs by leading writers and newspapers. Everyone knows about its striking design and sweeping mandate to provide comfort and support to every user. But one thing that often gets lost — though it’s nonetheless an essential and altogether commendable fact — is that the Aeron Chair is leading the way when it comes to the most responsible, sustainable, and green products on the market. The Aeron Chair is one of the only — and certainly one of the first — office chairs to take the environment seriously during every stage of its life, from design to production. Herman Miller is the manufacturer of this most famous work of Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, and at no point during the production of the chair does it ever falter from its extremely ambitious goal to be the most sustainable major furniture company in the world.
The Aeron chair is a Herman Miller product, and that means besides quality, comfort, and design you’re getting an environmentally responsible chair. Protection of the environment is extremely important to the company, and has in fact become one of the major facets of their business and mission. Environmentally sustainable business practices have been researched, tested, and implemented at an amazing pace in their offices and manufacturing facilities, and the example they are setting for the rest of the furniture industry is absolutely sterling. The Aeron Chair was designed in offices made to reduce energy and resource waste, built in factories that are working toward producing zero emissions and total energy independence, and is shipped in returnable, recyclable, re-usable packaging. The journey of the Aeron Chair from concept to your home or office is a long one, but at every step of the way the appropriate steps have been taken (and in fact many more than simply the “appropriate” steps) to ensure that the product is totally sustainable, responsible, and truly green.
The plan Herman Miller has for sustainability is extremely ambitious, and even inspiring. Herman Miller was dedicated to seeing 50 percent of its products meet internal environmental guidelines (Design for the Environment, or DfE) by 2010, and hopes to meet those guidelines with 100 percent of their products by 2020. The Design for the Environment guidelines are rigorous and intense, and include a goal of 100 percent energy independence, as well as 100 percent clean manufacturing and shipping.
The Aeron Chair itself is a big part of the project, being one of the world’s premier chairs and certainly Herman Miller’s flagship office chair. Herman Miller has built the chair so that Aeron is composed primarily of recycled and recyclable materials, is easily disassembled for responsible disposal, and was designed and produced in an environmentally sustainable manner at their studios and factories in Michigan.
Aeron is composed of two-thirds recyclable material, and 94 percent of the chair is recyclable at the end of its life. The Aeron chair is also MBDC Cradle to Cradle Silver certified, holds GREENGUARD certification, and can help contribute to LEED certification. LEED certification is notoriously difficult to achieve, and the GREENGUARD certification is a real badge of pride as well. The MBDC Cradle to Cradle Silver is a true accomplishment, as the chemists and researchers at MBDC inspect the chair and its materials at a cellular chemical level to absolutely insure their safety and environmental conscientiousness. The builders, artists, designers, and engineers who built the chair were able to meet all these guidelines and sky-high expectations by carefully calibrating the chair at every step of the way, and by working closely with green-minded science. Of course, they also had the extensive company policy guidelines laid out in the Design for the Environment protocol. So the design, the look, and the composition of the Aeron was adapted at nearly every stage. The armrests are made of self-skinning urethane that forms its own hard outer layer. The steel used in the chair is lead free, the plastic devoid of a certain harmful flame retardant. These materials are as cutting–edge and revolutionary as the chair they comprise, and it’s hard to imagine the Aeron Chair any other way.
From Herman Miller’s environmental policy statement:
Quality of life depends on meeting human needs without destroying the environment on which all life depends. As business leaders we are committed to develop sustainable business practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the welfare of future generations. Sustainability demands that we pay attention to the entire life cycle of our products. We will develop strategies that enable us to move toward sustainability while enhancing the value offered to customers. We will measure and monitor progress toward our environmental goals as a key metric of our business success.
On the journey toward sustainable business practices, through continuous improvement, we will:
- Go beyond compliance with environmental regulations and other requirements
You won’t find many companies who self-mandate this kind of goal; to be better than they’re required to be when it comes to environmental responsibility and protection.
- Pursue prevention of pollution and elimination of waste of any kind
Another stirringly ambitious goal; to have absolutely no pollution or waste is a goal a furniture company has not yet achieved.
- Implement technologies to efficiently use energy resources
- Design our products, processes, and buildings for the environment
- Promote environmental knowledge and awareness
Another one-step-beyond manifesto; not satisfied with raising their own awareness, HM wants to reach out.
Herman Miller is altogether one of the most environmentally responsible companies on the planet. They stand as one of the most influential and important environmentally conscious brands on the market, in the respect their brand commands as well as the extensive network of vendors and business partners they’ve cultivated. They’ve adapted their business models, their facilities, their staff, and their thinking to reflect a respect for nature and for the real threats of danger emanating from the changing climate and the disappearing swaths of uncorrupted land that used to stretch across the country.
The modern world of factories, offices, and furniture distribution has had a debilitating effect on the environment. Many furniture companies couldn’t care less about responsible green business contracts, and don’t bother to make their chair recyclable, safe, and non-hazardous. At Smart Furniture and Herman Miller, those problems don’t exist. Both companies are committed to researching and providing models and business practices that lead to the sustainable production and distribution of fine furniture. There’s no reason that companies, buyers or manufacturers should have to compromise the excellence of their design or the functionality of their chairs to make them more sustainable, and there’s every reason that they should stop continuing to produce irresponsible and unsustainable levels of anti-environment product, air and water waste, and greenhouse gases.
Smart Furniture and Herman Miller are leading the way towards the ending of these harmful, untenable business practices, and the Aeron Chair is just one product among many that any customer can be proud to acquire. Buying the Aeron Chair is a vote for environmental responsibility, for sustainable business and manufacturing processes, for recycling programs, and for a greener, safer, healthier earth. And there are few votes in America more powerful than the ones you make with the dollar; buy responsible products and decline to participate in the destructive practices of irresponsible companies, and eventually they’ll start to listen and change their ways. No company is going to continue to flout environmental protections and best practices if they’re losing money and business. That’s why Smart Furniture and Herman Miller, with the Aeron Chair and others, are publicly and visibly leading the effort to a safe and sustainable world.