Office furniture doesn't usually inspire outdoor activity. But designers at Burton Snowboards saw more in the Aeron chair than a cockpit for sedentary pursuits. They found kinetics in ergonomics and high performance in space-age materials. By applying parallel design elements to the company's 2009 CO2 board bindings ($390), Burton took imitation and flattery to a new altitude.
Constructed out of injection-molded thermal plastic, the stiff core of the CO2 mirrors the Aeron's Y-shape back design. By attaching at four points, the spine provides additional strength and gives the binding a tight rack-and-pinion feel.
The Aeron's signature webbing helps the CO2 reduce weight and creates a form fit to the boot. It also serves as a contact point, which helps transfer energy from the rider to the board. More energy, more speed, and more comfort make boarders want to stay on the mountain longer.
Before the CO2, high-back bindings were built symmetrically and didn't compensate for the snowboarders' angled leg stance. The result: an occasional, painful "calf bite" after heavy landings. Following the Aeron's attention to ergonomics, Burton tweaked the frame 7 degrees, which increased closeness to the leg and, mercifully, muzzles the bite.
Extreme adjustability separated the Aeron from its competition. Burton took note and added a dial to let riders determine their own angle of forward lean, which force knees to bend. The bent-knee position increases stored inertia and adds speed when going into turns. Test riders rave about the heightened responsiveness.
A version of this article appeared in the November 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.