Although I don’t know much about what goes on at office furniture fairs — are they like ICFF but with more file cabinets? — I can safely assume that the official unveiling of the SAYL chair from Herman Miller was the high point of Orgatec 2010 in Cologne last week.

Designed by curly haired “it” designer Yves Béhar of fuseproject, the SAYL chair is the first affordable ergonomic task chair from iconic, sustainability-minded furniture maker Herman Miller.

With a sticker price starting at $399, a SAYL chair may not seem all that budget-friendly but keep in mind that quality, long-lasting ergonomic task chairs from places like Office Depot or Staples cost about this much.

Although its modest price is what seems to be getting folks in the design community worked up the most, SAYL boasts some significant eco-attributes thanks to its “Eco-Dematerialized Design.” It’s made from significantly fewer parts than most desk chairs and of those parts, 21 percent are made from recycled content. As a whole, depending on the model, 93 percent of the PVC-free SAYL chair is recyclable.

Additionally, the chair is pending both Greenguard and Cradle to Cradle certifications and is manufactured at the GreenHouse, Herman Miller’s 100 percent green-powered, LEED Pioneer production plant in Michigan. (Interesting side note: Herman Miller actually helped to fund the United States Green Building Council when it launched in 1993.)

Click here for a PDF detailing SAYL’s complete environmental credentials.


Although it looks space-agey, the chair was actually influenced not by "Blade Runner" but by an American landmark completed in 1937: the Golden Gate Bridge. Explains Fresh Home:

A suspension tower runs along the back of the chair to strengthen it while reducing weight and use of materials. The actual comfortable support comes from the flexible elastomer suspension material that keeps you cool but also allows a great range of motions. Looking at the chair from the side reveals the sailing vessel inspiration. Take another good look from all angles and you will also understand the name: replace the “i” in “sail” with the “Y” reflected by the back support structure and you get a beautifully crafted chair with a meaningful name.
Want to step into Béhar’s brain for a moment to understand how he conceived the above concept? Check out this short but excellent video from Fast Company. In a refreshing twist, the video’s main subject isn’t Béhar or the chair itself but the sketch wall at fuseproject headquarters in San Francisco.

The SAYL, available in both work and side chair models, will be available for purchase beginning Dec. 6 from Herman Miller retailers such as Room & Board and Design Within Reach. 

Via [Co.Design], [Freshhome]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Come SAYL away with me
Herman Miller and Yves Béhar collaborate for SAYL, an eco-friendly, ergonomic task chair with a design inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge.