It was on a work trip to the Herman Miller factory, in the unknown destination of Grand Rapids (Michigan). We were with the designer Yves Behar, who was working with the American manufacturers on a new office chair. One that visit, we were given a tour of the facilities and we ended up in a basement where products of all kinds, prototypes, special pieces, etc. are warehoused. Snooping around, Yves and I raised a plastic and we found a white leather armchair with a strange shield printed on the back.
It was a model designed by Charles and Ray Eames, with a three-piece back and casters, what is called “Executive Work Chair” or also “Time-Life Chair” (because it was designed for the Time-Life building in 1960). Following our curiosity, we discovered the following: the chair had been a special commission, made in 1990 for the then Pope John Paul II. For him, they customized it, making it in soft white leather and with the distinctive papal shield in blue and red. And it seems, in Herman Miller they were subsequently informed that the Pope had been delighted by his new work chair. Will Benedict keep it or will it have been passed along to Francis?