Herman Miller’s New Task Chair Wants to Become the Next Upholstered Icon (And It Doesn’t Have a Ton of Competition)
We don’t talk a lot on this site about Naoto Fukasawa. He’s one of an earlier generation of industrial designers — along with names like Jasper Morrison and Hella Jongerius — whose talent and influence is, by this point, simply a given in certain creative circles. (And not, perhaps, in others.) But while we hadn’t heard about a major project of his in a long time — his Pao light for Hay was probably the most recent, though why did no one tell us about this sweet Japanese playground equipment? — our ears perked up with we heard one of America’s largest and most celebrated office furniture brands had teamed up with the feted Japanese designer. The result is the Asari task chair, the latest collab between Herman Miller and Naoto Fukasawa, and it is, expectedly, a resounding match made in functional, ergonomic, minimalist heaven.
Asari means “clam” in Japanese, and here it’s used as a metaphor for the design’s nature-inspired soft shapes and rounded edges. “My goal was to inspire joy and create a new form, ultimately becoming the next upholstered icon,” Fukasawa says of his design — a lofty goal, but not an outsized one for a designer with nearly a dozen designs in the permanent collection at MoMA. (Not to mention, most of the competition for this honor comes from Herman Miller itself.) Either two or three “pillows” are stacked to create mid- or high-back options, while Herman Miller’s PostureFit technology is employed inside to support the lower spine. A self-adjusting tilt mechanism and a contoured seat pad are also integrated for optimum comfort.
To accentuate the chair’s shape — and to make a bold statement in any workspace — eight solid-color options spill across the five-castor base, pill-shaped arms, and chair body (we’re really into the burnt orange look), and 180 blended color combinations are available for contract customers as well. Upholstery options can be chosen from a selection of fabrics from Maharam, another brand in the MillerKnoll family, including two woven textiles and a leather sourced from Northern Italy. These options are intended to help the Asari fit seamlessly into domestic environments, for those with remote and hybrid work arrangements. Judging from the looks below, Asari will do just fine in that department, and we can think of just one more thing that would complete these serene domestic tableaux: With the return of physical media, can we put pressure on Muji to bring back Fukasawa’s wall-mounted CD player?!