Herman Miller Brings Analytical Approach to Higher Education Design

June 10, 2011

Today's education landscape is continually changing: throughout the day, the week, the semester. It's happening in classrooms, libraries, residence halls and is inherent in the very nature of learning and teaching. As change accelerates—a result of expanding enrollment, shifting demographics, budget realities, technological advancements and aging facilities—campus leaders must work harder to address and support the diverse needs of students, faculty and staff. Learning spaces play a vital role in this process—helping to enrich the learning experience and attract and keep students, while projecting a school?s spirit, culture and image. Yet, many institutions are working with spaces that were created before the Internet, before social networking sites, before texting. At NeoCon 2011, Herman Miller explores education trends and the emerging solutions to meet the needs of the learning environments of today and tomorrow.

About Herman Miller's Education Business
Herman Miller's Education Business is built on a foundation of robust research and first-hand experience. By applying its research-based approach, rich manufacturing history and collaborations with respected industry thought leaders such as SCUP, PKAL Learning Spaces Collaboratory, and Educause Learning Initiative (ELI), the company translates the unique needs of education spaces into solutions that enhance the learning experience.

Herman Miller's approach to creative and adaptable applications benefits students and educators alike. Its innovative, holistic solutions are suitable for the entire campus, from library commons to student centers to the classroom. The company's diverse portfolio encompasses a number of flexible interior and furnishing offerings, including a variety of modular systems, seating and desk options.

Mission and Values
Herman Miller is committed to partnering with college and university leaders to address change on campus. With its problem-solving, research-driven approach, the company is in tune with evolving trends, issues, and the leaders charged with addressing them. Changes in the pedagogical landscape inform every solution and design project.

In much the same way that students tackle complex equations in the classroom, Herman Miller brings an analytical approach to learning space design. The equation People + Pedagogy + Place = Possibilities embodies this approach. Three broad questions inspire Herman Miller's education team:

  • What do students and faculty need to learn and teach?
  • What stimulates intellectual and social growth?
  • How can a spirit of life-long learning be nurtured?

A History of Innovation and Research-based Design
Herman Miller has been involved in higher education since the early 1970s, stemming from Robert Propst's work as director of Herman Miller's Research Corporation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Initially, the Research Corporation's focus was largely concentrated on the way people worked in the office. Consulting with behavioral psychologists, architects, mathematicians and anthropologists, he quickly discovered the problem was larger and more exciting than the design of furniture. It was this study that enabled Propst to clearly delineate the basic propositions which later came to be incorporated in the first open office interior system called Action Office.

Propst's research led him to the exploration of how students lived and learned on campus. Herman Miller has had a presence on college campuses ever since. In 2004, partnerships with Georgia Tech University, Emory University and the University of Dayton opened the door for significant research on the impact of space on teaching and learning. Over the past seven years, efforts have been energized in this market, leveraging the connection between the changes in the workplace and higher education.

For Herman Miller, expert engagement and research are essential for staying at the forefront of changes in teaching and learning and the impact these changes have on space. Experts from the field are periodically gathered to participate in leadership roundtables and research studies. Direct student input is highly valued and actively solicited through initiatives such as the annual Student Video Contest. With its Learning Studio Research Program, Herman Miller collaborates with higher education leaders to create new approaches to their learning spaces. Through ongoing research, the pilot program allows them to measure the impact and effectiveness of spaces on learning prior to large-scale implementation.

A Lesson for the Future
Herman Miller believes space will continue to play a key role in shaping the teaching and learning practices of the future. As technology remains the big driver on campuses, higher education leaders will need a stronger connection between technology and the built environment. To future-proof spaces, flexibility is a critical component. Additionally, technology must be accommodated rather than integrated into furniture to allow a campus' physical space to more nimbly adapt to technological changes as they occur. Herman Miller will continue to address these trends and assist campus leadership in understanding these factors.

About Herman Miller, Inc.
Herman Miller works for a better world around you—with inventive designs, technologies and related services that improve the human experience wherever people work, heal, learn, and live. Its curiosity, ingenuity, and design excellence create award-winning products and services, resulting in more than $1.3 billion in revenue in fiscal 2010. Innovative business practices and a commitment to social responsibility have also established Herman Miller as a recognized global company. In 2011, Herman Miller again received the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation's top rating in its annual Corporate Equality Index and was also cited by FORTUNE as the "Most Admired" company in the contract furniture industry. Herman Miller trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MLHR.