Dietlind Walger (Chief Product Development Officer at Aeris) and Andreas Ostwald (ostwalddesign) have developed the latest innovation from Aeris - the Aeris Numo Task . The two talk about the creation and design process, challenges and what makes the new Aeris chair special.
What tipped the scales in favor of the Aeris Numo Task project ? What was the basic idea?
Dietlind Walger. The basic idea for the Numo Task resulted from the combination of various "technology projects" and from further ideas from the Numo project, i.e. a Aeris chair that is already on the market. In the "drawer" there was already the project "suspension strut light" - a suspension strut that should be slimmer than the one of the Aeris Swopper, but still swing well. In addition, the suspension strut was to be designed in such a way that it could be replaced by a standard chair column at any time. And then there was another successfully implemented technology project at that time - the SAM - Self Adjusting Motion element. This is a joint that allows the chair to always deflect in the same direction, even with different user weights. And we had understood - confirmed by the Red Dot Award "best of the best" as well as customer feedback - that the design of the Numo was very well received. And then there was the innovative Numo kinematics, which allow the chair user to move forward and backward in a very comfortable way.
And so the idea was born to combine all this to develop a new generation of office chair for Aeris . In the end, everything just fit together very well.
Was it a challenge that the Aeris Numo Task is based on an existing design (Aeris Numo)? Would it have been easier to start completely fresh?
Dietlind Walger. No, actually the opposite was the case - we already knew from the feedback on the Numo that we liked the design language. And besides, we deliberately wanted to expand the Numo family so that we could offer the right chair for different areas of use, such as the office, home office or living area.
Andreas Ostwald. It was simply a logical consequence to combine the Numo with the newly developed SAM mechanism because, as Dietlind said, we had already received a lot of positive feedback on the Numo.
How do you approach such a project? How do you start? With a drawing or a model? Are there certain strategies, routines that you use again and again?
Andreas Ostwald. Everything starts with building 3 data in the CAD system. This data was then used to build prototypes that were used for both functional testing and design reviews. With each round, the data was then refined until it could then be used to request and order suppliers.
How do you create this unique combination of technology and design? For example, is the focus first on the development of the mechanics and then comes the design, or do the two go hand in hand?
Dietlind Walger. One of the special features of the Aeris product development process is the "starting point". We always start by looking at how the product has to function so that the user experiences real added value for his health, his sense of well-being. Then, however, the first design ideas are very quickly developed in parallel and, ideally, technology and design development go hand in hand. Andreas is a designer who is deeply involved in the technology and manufacturability from the very beginning and yet never leaves the design thread. This makes the collaboration very pleasant and successful.
Andreas Ostwald. Coherent design always goes hand in hand with the development of technology in a very complex process. So in this sense there is no sharp demarcation, but everything merges into one big whole and includes construction, cultural history, behavioral habits, trend scouting plus material preferences.
What kind of materials were used?
Dietlind Walger. With the Numo Task, as with all other Aeris products, the unique movement function can only be fulfilled by specifically developed parts. That is, we do not use standard components, but each individual component must be specially designed and manufactured. Most of the components are manufactured out of so-called tools. These tools are like a kind of waffle iron, from which specially shaped parts made of aluminum and plastic are then produced. And for the newly developed SAM motion element, rubber is also used as a material.
Did you also focus on sustainability when developing the Aeris Numo Task ?
Dietlind Walger. The topic of sustainability must always be in focus when developing new products. This includes topics such as product durability, material selection, separability and transport. The best sustainability balance is a product that lasts a very long time, and that is always our main goal. That's why our products are put through their paces at TÜV during the development process. And all components of the chair are separable and then recyclable by type. For example, the aluminum for the die-cast elements is 98% recycled material. And with the "Cura" upholstery fabric, we use a material made from recycled PET bottles. What also makes us proud is the completely plastic-free packaging and the relatively low transport volume of this chair.
Were there any particular challenges during the design process?
Dietlind Walger. Again and again, Andreas and I came to points where the form had to subordinate itself to some extent to the function or the manufacturing and durability requirements. But these were always really exciting discussions, and Andreas always accepted the challenge and found an even better solution in the end.
What does the Aeris Numo Task have in common with the other Aeris chairs and what makes it different? What makes it stand out?
Andreas Ostwald. What it has in common with other Aeris chairs is clearly its unique movement function. The Aeris philosophy is Never just sit!, i.e. to create movement exactly where it is needed most, namely when sitting. However, in order to create these natural, free movements of the human body even when sitting, special dynamic "mechanics" are required. The SAM movement element is the special feature of Numo Task. The seat can therefore move from the base to all sides. The ingenious thing about it is that, thanks to the ingenious design and material composition of this element, the deflection always remains the same, regardless of the weight. So it doesn't matter whether you weigh 120 kg or just 50 kg, the feeling is the same - namely that the chair moves with you and adapts to your movements.
So you see, the actual development behind the design and construction is the precise perception and observation. Analyzing the principles of human movement - that's what makes our methodology so successful.
Dietlind Walger. Yes, exactly. The Aeris Numo Task continues the successful movement concept of our Swopper and 3Dee, but adds another technology USP with the SAM element. And the integrated Aeris kinematics under the seat shell, which enables forward and backward swinging, results in multi-dimensional movement and a truly unique "like sitting on clouds" feeling. And the Numo Task is so wonderfully uncomplicated - you don't have to adjust much at all. The SAM adjusts itself automatically. And adjusting the swing and seat height is quick and easy. Last but not least, there's the minimalist and unexciting design. The shape of the Aeris Numo Task is contemporary and classic at the same time, so it fits into any environment.
Where do you see the application areas of the chair?
Andreas Ostwald. The Numo Task is certainly mainly designed for the working area, i.e. the office and home office. But it can also be used in the living area. So let's say: it can be used wherever people want to sit ergonomically.
Where do you get your inspiration? Do you follow trends or do you try not to let them influence you too much?
Andreas Ostwald. I walk through the world with my eyes open, I have inspiring friends, a circle of very good designers as informants (my former students), so I have a perfect network. I'm also inspired by sciences, technologies, languages.
Dietlind Walger. I observe trends, but always check them for their aesthetic durability. What inspires me much more are intelligent manufacturing processes and new materials. And then many good ideas just come while talking to nice people - friends, colleagues or even suppliers. And every now and then I like to lose myself in the vast field of the Internet for research.