Before Vitramat, office chairs up to the 1970s resembled an upholstered board for seat and back, connected by a steel rod. The backrest could be adjusted forward and backward (upright and reclined) and up and down.
Ergonomists recommended that in the upright position the body should be supported in the lower lumbar area.
In a reclined position, the backrest should be supported in the mid to upper body area. This means that when the backrest board is adjusted from front to back, it should automatically move up und down, which it did not do.
Those chairs were only correct in one middle sitting position and not in all the others. That got us thinking about an additional lumbar pad to support the backrest in all sitting positions. The Vitramat was built up in the triad of a 3-D shaped, ergonomically designed seat, a vertical lumbar support and a separate backrest, which made adjusting the back height obsolete.
What was physically correct did not comply with German DIN standard 4551, which specified a back height adjustment by law. It meant that the Vitramat concept could not be sold on the German market.
With the support of the ergonomist Prof. Peters and the vision of Vitra owner Willi Fehlbaum, changes to the standard were made, and codified in DIN 4551/52.
Changing standards is always a big deal in Germany.
From its introduction on, the Vitramat was very successful and became the first “bread and butter” office chair development for the Vitra company.
It was in production for almost 25 years and has received several design awards. The Vitramat made Vitra famous and gave credit to Wolfgang Design as an established office chair designer