Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Herman Miller Introduces New Ergonomic Innovation to its Popular Aeron Work Chair

Herman Miller, Inc., a leading global provider of innovative office furniture and workplace consulting services, today introduced PostureFit, a major ergonomic breakthrough in custom-fit support expressly designed to promote a healthier posture for superior seated comfort.

Available in November as an option on Herman Miller's popular Aeron chair, PostureFit delivers support where it's needed most: in the lower back area below the beltline, where the spine meets the pelvis. Dr. Brock Walker, a spinal care and ergonomic seating specialist, developed the PostureFit technology based on his work with the aerospace and motorsport industries, as well as Herman Miller and medical research findings. Bill Stumpf, co-designer of the Aeron chair, and his partner Jeff Weber, of Stumpf/Weber + Associates, designed PostureFit's application to Aeron.

Currently no other ergonomic office seating products, including chairs featuring lumbar support, address the important connection between maintaining a healthy seated posture and long-term comfort. PostureFit works on the premise that good posture reflects a properly aligned spine, which is key to greater overall comfort through hours of seated work.

Recent Herman Miller research confirms that the explosion of technology in today's workplace often puts workers literally on the edge of their seats for much of the workday. This often leads to slouching, a condition that promotes back and neck pain, headaches, and fatigue, and can lead to more serious back problems.

PostureFit's custom-fitted design fills the void that exists between the sitter's lower back and the back of the chair, and works with the body's biomechanics to sustain the natural forward tilt of the pelvis. This helps to align the spine to discourage slouching and its related physical problems, and also aids in reducing fatigue and improving lower back comfort.

"It really doesn't matter whether you're a jet pilot, a racecar driver, or an office worker, because the same ergonomic health principles apply universally," said Walker. "Proper lower back support is essential to maintaining a healthy posture and comfort at work." Walker further explained that poor posture places added stress on the body's muscles and other soft tissue, while good posture reduces soft tissue stress, improves blood circulation, and takes pressure off the diaphragm for improved breathing.

Initial research confirms the PostureFit comfort paradigm: In user testing conducted by Herman Miller where respondents were existing Aeron users, 84 percent of test subjects said they preferred PostureFit to the more traditional lumbar support, while 86 percent felt that PostureFit provides superior lower back support.

"Just as the Aeron chair successfully challenged the assumption that foam-and-fabric was the last word in work chair comfort, PostureFit also represents a surprising new alternative to the conventional wisdom regarding lumbar support," said Randy Brown, senior product manager for Aeron at Herman Miller. "For anyone who spends long hours in seated, task-intensive work, PostureFit will set the new standard for ergonomic support and comfort."

Herman Miller introduced the first ergonomically designed office chair, the Ergon, in the 1970s. Subsequent Herman Miller seating, up to and including the Aeron chair, has advanced the company's growing ergonomic knowledge base. By launching PostureFit first on Herman Miller's signature chair, Brown said, "we are making the statement that we are committed to this new technology, and that we will remain focused on providing problem-solving design through extensive research, for addressing today's workplace challenges."

PostureFit will be available on all three Aeron chair sizes, and can also be retrofitted on Aerons previously purchased. Further information will be available from authorized Herman Miller dealers when the product is offered in November.

Herman Miller creates great places to work by researching, designing, manufacturing, and distributing innovative interior furnishings that support companies, organizations, and individuals all over the world. The company's award-winning products, complemented by primary furniture-management services, generated over $1.46 billion in revenue during fiscal 2002. Herman Miller is widely recognized both for its innovative products and business practices, including the use of industry-leading, customer-focused technology. Again in 2002 Herman Miller was named "America's Most Admired" furniture company by Fortune magazine and included in Forbes magazine's "Platinum List" of best-performing large corporations. The company trades on the NASDAQ stock market under the symbol MLHR.