I remember the very first time I walked into a Herman Miller outlet. I walked right past the Aeron chair, Yves Behar’s SAYL chair, and even probably the most iconic thing in the room… the Eames Lounge Chair. I walked past all these hallmarks of great industrial design, because I had my eyes affixed on the most interesting object in the room. I say object because you couldn’t really call it a chair. It was an experience. It was the Spun.
“There was no intention to design a chair”, says Thomas Heatherwick in the video above. The Spun was the result of an experiment, rather than a conscious decision to make a seating device. This experiment finally evolved into a chair that was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was the furniture-equivalent of a rollercoaster ride. You feel uncertainty, surprise, thrill, joy, euphoria, in a matter of seconds, which is more than you can say of any seating device on this planet. Designed as an unstable seating device that could rotate on its rim and axis, the Spun literally spins you around, tilting you ever so gently that you get this feeling of almost falling over, but never actually ever falling over, thanks to some incredibly precise design engineering. The spinning action gives you a quick burst of adrenaline and a release of endorphins that bring about childlike joy no matter how old you are. The minute you complete half a rotation, there’s a sudden awareness as you feel you’re about to topple backward, but you never do. The immediate relief of anxiety is quite literally a stress buster, and the cycle continues with each subsequent rotation.
The Spun Chair was designed back in 2010 by Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studios for Magis (eventually finding a home in Herman Miller too). Stand it upright and it doesn’t look like a chair at all… it only becomes a chair when you incline it. The rotationally symmetrical Spun is a rare type of chair that finds itself fitting perfectly into domestic as well as commercial spaces, and indoors as well as outdoors. Made using rotational molding (so it’s hollow on the inside) with polyethylene, the Spun comes with bands or lines across its surface that serve multiple purposes. The lines form a texture that prevents you from slipping off the chair. They provide a gripping surface not just for your backside, but also your hands that are bound to grip the chair as you find yourself feeling stable at one moment and unstable at another. Forming an element of CMF, the ribbed lines give the Spun a distinct play of light and shade, while also quite literally making it look like blur-lines from the spinning chair!
Watch the video above where Thomas Heatherwick breaks down the creation process for Spun in a video directed by Juriaan Booij.