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The office chair may seem like a modern invention but it was actually a Victorian idea. In the 1840s, at the same time as American Thomas E Warren was taking arms off armchairs and spring-loading the seats, the British scientist Charles Darwin was adding wheels to his study chair, in order to move around his specimens quicker.

It wasn’t until the 1970s, however, that the swivel seat on casters got an aesthetic update. Austrian designer Ettore Sottsass introduced colour into the o ce and the focus switched from productivity to wellbeing. Designer Bill Stumpf at Herman Miller created the iconic 1976 Ergon, to provide spinal support and increase blood ow to the legs, and later, in 1992, the Aeron, with its breathable mesh back.

Today, not even balance balls, standing desks and home offices can dent demand in the office chair.


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