January 15, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
I had a chance at the Heller showroom last night to test out their latest product, the ergoErgo, an all-in-one intelligently designed stool intended to combine the health benefits achieved from sitting on an exercise ball with the comfort of a cushioned seat. I want one. The ergoErgo is perfect for outdoor use as it’s durable yet lightweight, and made of a rubber-composite that’s UV-resistant so it won’t fade in the sun. And yes, the ergoErgo is also ecoEco…it’s recyclable. Alan Heller, the firm’s founder and designer of the stool, conceived of the idea when he observed his wife sitting on an exercise ball. He thought they should find a way to design something with the same functionality but make it more beautiful. For those prone to back problems, the product literature proposes that one can strengthen one’s core muscles by just sitting on the chair. A strong core will lead to a strong back just as a strong design ethic will lead to the timeless designs for which Heller is famous.
The stool will hit the market in about two months, and in keeping with the company’s vision of creating “good design at an affordable price,” will retail for $100.
In the 12 years since it’s launch in 1998 of the Bellini Chair, the world’s first gas-injected moulded chair, Heller has offered leading international designers such as Massimo & Lella Vignelli, Philippe Starck, Mario Bellini, and Frank Gehry, the opportunity to work with new technologies to create innovative products. As designer Massimo Vignelli, speaking at last night’s IDNY-sponsored presentation said, “Anyone can design something expensive that no one can afford. But only a good designer can design something everyone can afford.” Vignelli and Heller’s collaboration began in 1967 with the design of the famous Heller stackable melamine dishes, now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Stackable dishes designed by Massimo and Lella Vignelli for Heller. Photo: Museum of Modern Art.