Introducing the Saiba chair

Find out about the new, multipurpose chair by Naoto Fukasawa as we celebrate its 8 September launch

An impressive turnout for the Saiba chair launch

On 8 September 2016, Herman Miller Japan held a launch event for the Saiba chair, designed by Naoto Fukasawa. Naoto, the designer attended the event, telling to those who are present, about the design process for the Saiba chair, as well as explaining his design philosophy.

According to Fukasawa, he wanted Saiba to be an elegant piece of furniture that sat somewhere between an office chair and a lounge chair, so it could be used in both environments. With more people working in places other than the traditional office – such as homes, cafes and hotel rooms – it’s no surprise there is growing demand for highly functional chairs such as this.

Fukasawa explains his design to the crowd

Fukasawa’s first steps in designing the Saiba chair involved drawing a clean and beautiful silhouette. Since a chair’s form determines its overall beauty – no matter what material it’s made of – he had to review the prototype’s shape very carefully, to ensure there were no areas that deviated from his design. The line that runs from the back of the chair to the arm support, which is one of Saiba’s most prominent features, had to be modified several times before the chair was ready to go.

Much effort went into the little details of the chair as well. The location and finishing of the upholstery stitching, for example, and the way light hits the chair when it’s upholstered in different materials, such as leather or fabric.

The clean lines of the Saiba chair

Even when the design was complete, it was necessary to make adjustments of several millimetres in the Herman Miller comfortability-testing process. For, while the chair had to have an elegant silhouette, it also needs to offer comfort as well.

A specific group of people had a hand in ensuring Saiba’s comfortability: namely, women. Herman Miller’s female sales people requested a chair that would be more comfortable for women working at computers at their desks. To accommodate this request, Fukasawa narrowed the depth of the chair towards the top of the back.

The elegant beauty of Saiba is also an embodiment of one aspect of Fukasawa's design philosophy, ‘Super Normal’. That is, the user quickly gets used to it (normalisation), and it exceeds what it replaces (super).

Developing Saiba was a three-year process. “It’s almost like making a tailored suit,” said Fukasawa at the launch. “The difference here is that we have to establish our mannequin's style as well. The clothes only look good when they’re put on a stylish mannequin." And what a stylish mannequin Saiba is.

The Saiba group is set to have new additions in the near future: a lounge chair and ottoman set, a side chair with wooden legs and a table are all in the pipeline.