Even the chairs at Apple Park are designed to promote collaboration


Apple Park chair
For $1,200 you can sit in style like an engineer at Apple Park.
Photo: Barber Osgerby

There’s a good chance you’ll never have the opportunity to work at Apple, let alone attain the success of chief designer Jony Ive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sit like Jony Ive — and, no, we don’t mean on a giant pile of money in front of a white backdrop.

According to a new report, Apple Park uses design firm Barber Osgerby’s Pacific Chair throughout its campus. The elegantly simple chairs, designed to promote collaboration between employees, retail for $1,185. (Although Apple likely got a bit of a discount on a bulk order of 12,000 units!)

The anecdote about the chairs being used for the new Apple Park campus comes from an article for Fast Company. Author Cliff Kuang writes that:

“Apple design chief Jony Ive keeps a low profile, but he’s social with a handful of Brits who sit atop the world of industrial design, including Jay Barber and Ed Osgerby, founders of the studio Barber Osgerby. A few years ago, the duo paid Ive a visit. Over a pint, they shared what they had been working on: a new office chair that would be the first from the furniture maker Vitra in several years. The pitch around the design wasn’t that it was technical or flashy. Rather, the idea was that it was ‘quiet,’ with soothing curves that could blend in anywhere, even a home. Ive perked up, raised an eyebrow, and said, ‘That’s interesting.’ Several months later, Apple became the first customer for the Pacific Chair, which it ordered for every work station in its 12,000-person campus designed by Foster + Partners.”

The chairs’ modern aesthetic is contrasted with the Aeron Chair, the standard high-end office chair which debuted in 1994, “whose exoskeleton was meant to conform to your own, so that you could sit for hours on end in supreme comfort.” Today, of course, hot-desking and collaboration is the name of the game — which likely explains why the idea appealed to the Apple Park decision makers.

Previously, Apple exec Phil Schiller noted how, “everything about [the Apple Park campus] is designed for [collaboration]. From the fact that, on the ring, the internal and external surface of the ring are the hallways, and they completely traverse the space. So you can walk through the entire space, both on the inside and outside perimeter and go from section to section.”

He described it as, “the most incredible collaborative space that’s been created.” This, in turn, reflected a Steve Jobs philosophy, which he embraced while at NeXT and Pixar in his years outside of Apple. Disney president Ed Catmull has recalled how, “Steve was a big believer in the power of accidental mingling; he knew that creativity was not a solitary endeavor.”

While some people will doubtless scoff at arguably Apple’s most important figure, Jony Ive, spending time in his busy schedule picking office chairs, the fact that he would do so — and consider exactly how said chairs could impact on the working day — is just one more reason he’s one of the world’s most iconic designers.

You can find out more about the Pacific Chair here.


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