Technology, What's Up
December 30, 2009
“I tell my students that they are archeologists sifting through stuff to learn about the person who owns it and the society that made it,” says Associate Professor Joe Trumpey, who teaches at the University of Michigan’s School of Art and Design.
The course: Art and Design Perspectives. The assignment: Inventory, categorize, analyze and research everything you own.
My son Emerson, a sophomore in Trumpey’s class, had 438 items on his My Stuff spreadsheet (above) when I spoke with him last. (And this is only the stuff he has with him at school–you should see his bedroom at home.) For each object, he has to list country of origin, primary material, life expectancy, end of life cycle, and monetary value–and rank its personal importance in his life.
Once their inventories are complete, students will experiment with sorting them by various categories and analyze the patterns they find. “Ultimately, students see the complexities of global markets and design,” says Trumpey, who has given the assignment four years running. “Many see the excess of cheap, disposable goods versus the more meaningful or longer lasting goods.”
I’ll report on Emerson’s findings in an upcoming blog post.
Better World, Well-Being
December 28, 2009
Drizzly Denmark is the happiest country in the world. No, really. There’s research to back it up. But other research shows Costa Rica is happiest. It all depends on what you measure.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—the Paris-based group that says Denmark is happiest—measures only life satisfaction. It asked citizens questions like “Did you learn something today?” and “Were you proud of something you did yesterday?”
But, nef, the independent “think-and-do tank” that says Costa Rica is happiest, measures life satisfaction, life expectancy, and ecological footprint. This allows it to assess the “environmental efficiency with which, country by country, people live long and happy lives.” It assigns each country a “Happy Planet Index” (HPI). So it’s not just about the happiness of a country’s people; it’s about whether or not the way that country’s citizens live makes the planet happy. An interactive map shows each country’s cumulative index and its index for each measure.
In addition to checking out your country’s HPI, you can also calculate your own personal HPI. Mine was 64. That’s above the world average of 46 but well below the target of 83, “which represents a good life that doesn’t cost the earth,” according to the folks at nef. Once you have your score, the site generates suggestions on how to improve in each area.
My ecological footprint really hurt my overall score, a weakness my country shares: The U.S. ranked 114th on the Happy Planet Index because it, too, has an outsized ecological footprint. We’re both going to have to work on that.
Check out what Herman Miller is doing to improve our ecological footprint through our environmental advocacy initiatives.
Herman Miller Journal
December 25, 2009
This is the third recipe in a series from the kitchen of Marigold Lodge. We already served up our signature Pita Chips, followed by Carrot Ginger Soup. Now for the entree.
Pork Tenderloin Wrapped in Pancetta with Pinot Noir Glace
6 pork tenderloins
1 ½ lbs. sliced pancetta
2 c. Pinot Noir
2 c. veal glace
1 can cannellini beans
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 large bunch red Swiss chard, ribs removed
White truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinot Noir Glace
In a medium sauce pan, add Pinot Noir and veal glace. Over medium heat, reduce liquid by half. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove silver membrane from tenderloin fillets. Wrap pancetta around fillets and secure with toothpick.
In a large skillet, add 2 T. olive oil and sear tenderloin fillets on both sides. Place on a sheet pan and place in oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven; allow tenderloin to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Remove excess oil from skillet and add tomatoes, beans, and Pinot Noir glace. Reheat and keep warm.
In a small skillet, add 1 T. olive oil and Swiss chard. Cook until chard begins to wilt. Ladle Pinot Noir glace onto warm plates and place Swiss chard on top of the glace in the center of the plate.
Remove toothpicks from the pork and slice, placing three to four pieces on top of the chard. Drizzle with truffle oil, garnish, and serve.
Design, Healthcare, Products, Well-Being
December 23, 2009
I love talking to designers. They’re such problem-solvers. For example, the other day, I had a really interesting conversation with Martin Linder, designer of the Florabella Lounge Collection by Brandrud (a Herman Miller company), which recently won a Nightingale Award at the Healthcare Design 09 conference. Our discussion ranged from worry beads to hugs to pathogens to machines for detecting explosives in airports (which he also designs, but that’s a whole other story.)
Linder, a tenured professor at San Francisco State University and partner in MSL Design, believes good design starts with good research, so he spent many hours in hospital waiting rooms observing how people interact with the furniture there. Some, he discovered, found comfort using armrest seams as “worry beads;” others took the concept of “lounge” to new heights – or depths, actually. These and other factors (did we mention those pesky pathogens?) were all taken into consideration before he ever picked up a drawing tool.
In addition to his observations, Linder also talked with hospital personnel, including nurses and maintenance crews.
Design, What's Up
December 21, 2009
The traveling design exhibition, “Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller,” has begun its 15-city tour. Premiering at the Muskegon Museum of Art, the exhibit will visit cities across the United States over the next two years.
Here are some upcoming dates and locations:
Goldstein Museum of Design St. Paul, MN, November 23, 2009 – January 17, 2010
Henry Ford Museum Dearborn, MI, February 6, 2010 – April 24, 2010
Everson Museum of Art Syracuse, NY, August 15, 2010 – October 17, 2010
San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts San Angelo, TX, November 7, 2010 – January 2, 2011
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum Wausau, WI, January 29, 2011 – April 3, 2011
Hunter Museum of American Art Chattanooga, TN, January 2, 2012 – February 26, 2012
San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design San Francisco, CA, June 17, 2012 – August 12, 2012
“Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller” explores the collaborative problem-solving design process employed at Herman Miller.
Why not pay a visit in a city near you?
Herman Miller Journal
December 18, 2009
This is the second recipe in a series from the kitchen of Marigold Lodge. Last week we shared our signature Pita Chips recipe with you. Now, onto the soup: Carrot Ginger Soup garnished with sour cream, finely chopped carrots, and a sprig of parsley.
Carrot Ginger Soup
6 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, diced
¼ cup ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
7 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 ½ lbs carrots, peeled & large diced
1 tbsp curry paste (optional)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
On low heat melt butter in stock pot; add onions, ginger, and garlic. Sweat on low for 5 to 10 minutes. Add stock, wine, and carrots. Increase to medium heat and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until carrots are tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour soup into blender; blend until smooth. Add pureed soup back into pan and bring back to heat. Add curry paste, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve.
December 17, 2009
I had the coolest experience the other day – talking to a 6th grade class about writing. After I gave my spiel about what a great career it is and how many opportunities there are, I gave them an assignment: Create an ad for a soccer ball that has two distinct characteristics: It glows in the dark and it’s made out of an indestructible material called Toughcoat.
I couldn’t believe their responses. They totally got into it and I had trouble keeping up with all the fantastic ideas they were throwing at me!
Headlines like, “Play soccer under the stars,” “The ball that can’t be beat,” “The soccer ball with muscle,” “The best night-light ever!” I just never expected such great ideas from them. And I think I learned a valuable lesson that day: Kids are creative. Kids like to think. Kids can make work fun. Isn’t that the way it should be for adults, too?
December 16, 2009
Herman Miller’s environmental advocacy initiative called Perfect Vision has been getting some attention. We know we’ve set challenging goals to produce no landfill waste, hazardous waste, or manufacturing emissions and to rely completely on “green energy” by 2020. It started with our belief that sustainability was going to have a growing importance both to us and to our customers. And the evidence is piling up. We believe the only way to achieve audacious results is to set audacious goals.
Want to read more? Check out this Harvard Business Review interview with CEO Brian Walker to see how we’ve progressed.
And watch our Zero Is Hero video to learn more about our sustainability goals.
December 15, 2009
“Okay, class,” I say, “get into groups.”
A collective sigh, then shuffling and scraping of chairs. I survey the results.
“No, Jonah. You can’t sit in a corner and read. Move here. Lynsey, turn around. You guys, arrange yourselves so you can talk to each other.”
This is the drill every time I want my English Comp class to analyze a story or to discuss questions. Why is this so hard?
Simple. It’s bad design.
Designers, educators, and Herman Miller are known to encourage collaboration. In fact, Herman Miller is partnering with several institutions to try on some new approaches to learning spaces and to measure the result.
And yet, while we expound on the power of collective intelligence and the value of teamwork, most classrooms are still furnished with immobile, tank-like tables all lined up in rows. If the design of an environment signals how it should be used, most classrooms signal naptime.
I’m confident that students will, by and large, survive their educational gestation in these bland boxes and emerge when the real world prods them into out-of-the-box thinking, but in the meantime, it sure ought to be easier to create an environment conducive to teamwork in the classroom. Or at least to form a group.
December 14, 2009
Minus digital technology and the Internet, Twitter has a surprising ancestor: early 20th-century postcards.
Postcards didn’t exist in the U.S. before1898. That year, the government made it legal to print and send “private mailing cards.” Stamps were a penny. Messages were permitted only on the front of the card. The back was reserved for the address. The limited space required messages to be brief, telegraphic, “tweet-like.”