“Everything goes back to those days at the University of Wisconsin,” he said recently, referring to the postgraduate years he spent studying and teaching at the university’s Environmental Design Center. “Everything was about freeing up the body, designing away constraints.”
It was there where Stumpf, working with specialists in orthopedic and vascular medicine, conducted extensive research into ways people sit—and the ways they should sit. In 1974, Herman Miller commissioned him to apply his research to office seating. Two years later, the Ergon chair was introduced.
During his lifetime, Stumpf—a key figure in Herman Miller’s transformation into a research-based, problem-solving innovator—received numerous awards for this work. He was named the winner of the 2006 National Design Award in Product Design, an award presented posthumously by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Stumpf died in 2006.