A Herman Miller Aeron chair. This term was current up and down the west coast in 2001 and perhaps before. Particularly among those who had picked up the chairs (which retailed for $700-$1000) for a song at fire sales of the assets of folding dot-bombs.

I'm sitting in an Aeron right now, at home, which I bought new with my own money not long after they were introduced. My RSI was starting to frighten me, and it was money well spent, I would make the same decision today. It is harder, Mies van der Rohe once said, to design a good chair than a good building. These are good chairs. They're functional, comfortable, and well-engineered, extremely adjustable, a justifiable expense for anyone who spends a significant part of their day at a desk.

They also look cool and cutting edge, which during the dot-com bubble made them a priority ranking just ahead of a feasible business plan. To me there's something a little bit sad about these cool black mesh structures now. They are artifacts of a brief era when even the smallest workplaces competed to be cool and fun. There wasn't much generosity or enlightenment behind most of it--management cast a cold eye and deduced correctly that they could have a ready supply of twentysomethings around the office 24/7 if they just made it sufficiently clubby, and the HR trolls figured they could substitute a foosball table for a dental package. The failure of this methodology means we are doomed to an interval where everything must be beige and enclosed in systems furniture (so Herman Miller is still covered).

Next time you see a second-hand Aeron, consider for a moment the slice of history it represents. It may have once supported the hopes, dreams, and fundament of an individual who did Frontpage for a company that would deliver a Snickers bar to your apartment at 2:00am for free.

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