The Embody chair is Herman Miller's newest task chair design, designed by Jef Weber and Bill Stumpf who also has designed many of Herman Miller's breakthrough chairs like the Ergon, the Equa, and the Aeron (the Equa and Aeron done with Don Chadwick). It would seem that whenever Herman Miller has Bill Stumpf involved in a chair design the result breaks new ground.
Lets look at some of the Embody chair's features:
• They have taken a much different approach to the chair back with the Embody. First of all its fairly narrow, intended to support your shoulders but go no wider, its meant to allow your arms to be able to move past the chair back, giving your back support without confining your arms.
• The describe the back as an "alive" back. Instead of being a rigid padded element the back is designed to flex and follow your spine. So if you twist to reach for something the chair back will twist as well. Its a fairly interesting dynamic when you see the chair in motion. They achieve this with an interesting back design. The back consists of a flexible membrane supported at multiple contact points by a branching flexible back frame. Difficult to describe - look at the pictures of the back - it is a support structure that branches off much like a tree, with the dimension of each branch getting smaller till it terminates at a support point. The rigidity of the chair back is made variable by the dimension of the varying branches, allowing the back to give more support near the base, and be more flexible at your shoulders where you are more likely to pivot.
• The fabric covering is thin like many of the other task chairs we've looked at, and again here the pad is permeable so that the back allows air to move freely through the pad. The membrane that supports the pad is perforated to make it flexible and also to ventilate.
• Seat depth is also adjustable, but rather than a sliding pad the seat front appears to roll under taking the upholstery along with it.
• The recline position pivots the back and seat together - you will notice that the upholstery of the back and seat meet in the joint between the two. Similar to the way the seat depth rolls in ad out off the front of the chair, the recline opens up into the joint between the seat and back. The motion of the chair matches the motion between your hips and legs keeping your back supported through out the motion.
• The arms offer the usual adjustments, but its interesting to note their profile. The support of the arms favors the outside, even bulging away from the seat pad. This offers more room at the seat level so you would have no sensation of being trapped between the arms. More room to move your legs over the course of a day equals more comfort, and more productivity.
There are lots of great ideas and details in this chair. I've not sat in one yet but I look forward to it.