The chair pictured here was "Chair X" until I named it for Steelcase, the global office-furniture company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now known as Amia, it made its debut this week at NeoCon 2007, the oddly named "world's trade fair for interior design and management." The new chair combines proprietary "LiveBack" technology (translation: the sitter can adjust multiple controls for a custom fit) with a "moderate price point" (translation: $600 to $750).
The naming challenge was daunting. An internal team had already made repeated attempts to create a name that communicated the chair's benefits; fit into a nomenclature system that includes the Leap, Think, Siento, and Move chairs; and conveyed positive associations in the U.S. and European markets. And, of course, the name needed to be legally available as a trademark.
After I completed two rounds of naming (with a total of more than 200 names), the client and I agreed that real-word solutions posed too many legal and linguistic problems. A third round produced a list of lightly coined names that included our winner: Amia. The word combines ami--French for "friend"--and Spanish/Italian mia to suggest personalized comfort and "amiability." The word's four-letter length makes it a good fit with the other chair names in the category.