Hello and welcome everyone to the sixth issue of the Labora newsletter
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For the long weekend issue I want to talk about a trivial topic: chairs. Yes, chairs, Actually, I want to talk about a chair in particular, the Aeron Chair.
The Aeron chair is an office chair designed in 1992 by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf and sold by Herman Miller, a Michigan based company that produces office furniture, equipment and home furnishings.
The Aeron chair became, in the 90s, an icon of the digital revolution. Priced well above $1,000, Aeron chairs were the tangible symbol of internet-based, venture-backed startup opulence. The “Dot-Com throne”.
As the startup ethos changed over the past 20 years, so as the attitude towards expensive chairs and office paraphernalia. At the age of the “Lean startup
”, chairs represent just an additional line on the “Fixed costs” column of the balance sheet. If “startup” now means a series of experiments aimed at assessing the product-problem-market fit
, then buying chairs probably should not be among the top priorities of aspiring entrepreneurs. In the office so as in private life, ostentatious frugality rather that opulence is the modern marker of great aspirations.
Therefore, as argued by the Entrepreneur article linked below, buying chairs it’s a right that every company has to earn. Boltanski and Chiapello were probably right when, in their book The New Spirit of Capitalism
, argued that rent, rather than ownership, represented the future of control over the means of production. In the flexible economy all fixed costs should be turned into variable ones, chairs included.
And now, a collection of articles about the Aeron chair the dot-com imaginary: