"Vertebra" Armchair

Designer: Emilio Ambasz (Argentinian, born Resistencia, Chaco, 1943)

Designer: Giancarlo Piretti (Italian, born Bologna, 1940)

Date: 1974–76

Medium: Polyurethane and leather

Dimensions: 38 1/8 x 25 3/4 x 28 in. (96.8 x 65.4 x 71.1 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Gift of Open Ark, The Netherlands, 1989

Accession Number: 1989.48


The "Vertebra," introduced in 1976, is the first automatically adjustable office chair, designed to respond and adapt to the movements of the user's body and provide comfort and support. Designer Emilio Ambasz, who was born in Argentina and educated in the United States, sought to create the ideal chair in "Vertebra," one that was so integrated with the form of the occupant as to become virtually invisible and undetectable, functioning as an extension of the human body. The "Vertebra" chair won the ID Award for Excellence of Design in 1977, and stimulated subsequent research in the area of ergonomically designed office furniture, which continues to this day. In addition to his work in industrial design, Ambasz is an architect, writer, and critic.