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Written By: David Wiltshire Published: Mar 31, 2020

This would have been Bill Stumpf’s 80th birthday. Knowing him as I did, I’m certain he would have smoked a cigar (or maybe two), mixed a martini, and celebrated with his friends and family. There would have been good jazz, good food, and lots of good laughs. For Stumpf, these seemingly simple rituals and pleasures amounted to something more. They were what make us human. All too well, he understood what makes us human—our successes and our failures. Stumpf railed against all the things in the world that are needlessly inhuman and, as a designer, looked for ways to remedy them. And that, in essence, begins the story of how he and Herman Miller created the world’s first ergonomic chair.

This would have been Bill Stumpf’s 80th birthday. Knowing him as I did, I’m certain he would have smoked a cigar (or maybe two), mixed a martini, and celebrated with his friends and family. There would have been good jazz, good food, and lots of good laughs. For Stumpf, these seemingly simple rituals and pleasures amounted to something more. They were what make us human. All too well, he understood what makes us human—our successes and our failures. Stumpf railed against all the things in the world that are needlessly inhuman and, as a designer, looked for ways to remedy them. And that, in essence, begins the story of how he and Herman Miller created the world’s first ergonomic chair.

This would have been Bill Stumpf’s 80th birthday. Knowing him as I did, I’m certain he would have smoked a cigar (or maybe two), mixed a martini, and celebrated with his friends and family. There would have been good jazz, good food, and lots of good laughs. For Stumpf, these seemingly simple rituals and pleasures amounted to something more. They were what make us human. All too well, he understood what makes us human—our successes and our failures. Stumpf railed against all the things in the world that are needlessly inhuman and, as a designer, looked for ways to remedy them. And that, in essence, begins the story of how he and Herman Miller created the world’s first ergonomic chair.

This would have been Bill Stumpf’s 80th birthday. Knowing him as I did, I’m certain he would have smoked a cigar (or maybe two), mixed a martini, and celebrated with his friends and family. There would have been good jazz, good food, and lots of good laughs. For Stumpf, these seemingly simple rituals and pleasures amounted to something more. They were what make us human. All too well, he understood what makes us human—our successes and our failures. Stumpf railed against all the things in the world that are needlessly inhuman and, as a designer, looked for ways to remedy them. And that, in essence, begins the story of how he and Herman Miller created the world’s first ergonomic chair.

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— BILL STUMPF