Herman Miller tapped Berlin-based designers Carola Zwick, Roland Zwick, and Burkhard Schmitz at Studio 7.5 to deliver something often advertised, but rarely delivered: a task chair engineered to offer self-adjusting comfort bespoke to the user’s height, weight, and position. After 8 years of research and development, the studio developed the Auto-Harmonic Tilt system as the foundation of the new Herman Miller Cosm chair, a self-adapting work seat that takes the guesswork out of finding the most comfortable – and healthy – position to work from.
The 113 year old company unveiled the Cosm at this year’s Salone del Mobile 2018 as an example of next generation seating designed to automatically adjust to not only the endless varieties of seating positions people work from, but also in acknowledgment that many work environments now use chairs communally. When your chair may become another’s seating the next hour, and vice versa, the issue of ergonomic comfort can be an issue. The Studio 7.5 team simplified the interaction between user and chair by eliminating physical controls, developing the Auto-Harmonic Tilt to instantly provides balanced support and movement corresponding to the user’s body, posture, and seated position.
The parallels between seating and athletic footwear are numerous: individual comfort is highly dependent upon body shape and weight, posture plays a significant part in matching the best chair/shoe with user, and preferences for more padding vs. lightweight/airy construction is a subjective matter. And like a footwear brand, Herman Miller perpetually innovates by researching various materials and technologies to deliver ever finer and self adjusting features in service of comfort. With the Cosm the interplay between material and technology is manifested using gears within the tilt that in turn move the fulcrum along a leaf spring to automatically adjust the chair’s tension.
Whether this new seating system proves to be truly universally adaptable to the endless ways people sit can only be verified by (longterm) use, noting our personal preference for padded backs and arms usually dictates more significant sized task chairs. We’ll be able to find out this summer, when the Cosm becomes publicly available for both home and commercial markets.