People feel close to their furniture. They get attached. "So my goal is to design furniture that fits into someone's life," Mark Goetz says. "I want even office furniture to feel as personal as any object someone has at home."
Of course, furniture must solve a problem, Goetz says, but that's only half of the designer's mission. "You could live with a good solution and not really like it. Objects should be loved and wanted as well as provide a solution."
Goetz has been designing loved and wanted objects since 1986, after his graduation from the Pratt Institute in New York City. In 1988, he founded TZ Design in New York and has created children's products for Marimekko, backpacks and totebags for Le Sportsac, table top items for Crate & Barrel, and crystal for Steuben.
He also has designed a variety of products for the contract furniture industry, including tables, casegoods, and more than 60 chairs. His pieces furnish the corporate headquarters of the Chicago Bulls, the Kennedy Center in Washington, and the president's office at Harvard University.
For Herman Miller, Goetz designed the Aside guest chair and the Goetz sofa--two products that seem vastly different yet embody similar themes. "I try to give things a reserved, quiet expression so they're appropriate in a variety of environments," he says. "But I also try to make interesting forms that people really like--something fresh and new."
He says the sofa was a "daunting challenge" because it's part of the Herman Miller Collection of classic home and office products that define 20th century design. "If I were sitting in a room with Eames, Nelson, and Noguchi," he says, "and we were discussing design, I would be listening rather than talking. When designing the sofa, I took on that role, trying to understand the qualities of the collection that make it so wonderful. I wanted to create something that echoes the collection and respectfully adds to it."
Likewise, the Aside chair resembles traditional guest chairs but adds unique comfort and a sleek, contemporary look that complements a range of office settings.
Above all, "I want people to feel comfortable with my work," Goetz says, "so they feel it's created especially for them."
Best of NeoCon Gold Award for seating, 2000
Chicago Athenaeum's Good Design Competition, 2000
Best of NeoCon Gold Award for occasional tables, 1998
Best of NeoCon Gold Award for seating and tables, 1996
IIDA Apex Award for seating, 1996
Institute of Business Designers Award for seating, 1993