One of the great design features at our Design Yard facility in Holland, Michigan, is a walkway that extends from one end of the building to the other. Lined with windows and without doors to negotiate, the walkway is a great space to meet people, exhibit art and creative projects, look outside, and exercise.
This last option fits in with our Health Management Program, which includes bicycle commuting, fitness programs, and flu shots. Why just the other day, as I was walking to lunch, I was nearly run over by the group in this picture. As I rounded a corner, they came barreling along, talking away, and intent on doing their noon-time walk. We all smiled, said hello, and I thought, “That’s one of the things I like about this place—work is part of life, and not the other way round.”
Fast Company has once again put together its 2010 list of Most Innovative Companies—an assessment of innovative practices throughout the business world spanning creative models to real-world impact and far-sighted risk taking.
Of more than 250 companies, Herman Miller has been recognized not only as one of its Most Innovative Companies, but also as one of its “Innovation All-Stars”—a group of 59 global companies that “fought a dour economy with renewed creativity and bold initiatives.” We’re the only Michigan-based company to appear on the All-Star list and the only representative from the contract furniture industry.
Fast Company cited several of our award-winning products as examples of innovation: the Embody chair, the Setu chair, the Twist LED task light, and Teneo storage furniture system.
Still have that old Instamatic shot of you playing badminton while wearing madras Bermuda shorts and a tie-dyed t-shirt? (I do.) Besides being embarrassing, it actually fits into a category of photography called vernacular—ordinary, everyday pictures like family snapshots, candids, and vacation photos, as well as IDs, crime-scene photos, photo-booth strips, Facebook images—just about anything, really.
Vernacular photography is considered the opposite of art, but the shots can have surprising depth and cultural value. They are often unintentionally revealing, strange, funny, or heartbreaking—or all that at once. Some think of vernacular photos as folk art. And it has become a genre for fine-art photographers who use vernacular forms as a means of expression, blurring the line between art and “real life.”
The results are often stunning—such as those featured in a current exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago. It’s showing more than 100 amazing images from its collection of fine-art vernacular photographs in a exhibition entitled “In the Vernacular,” running Feb. 6-May 31. Featured artists include greats like Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Gary Winogrand, Andy Warhol, Lee Friedlander, Martin Parr, Nikki S. Lee, and others.
For the past four years, Herman Miller has been a sponsor of a program called InnovationSpace at Arizona State University. Begun in 2005, the program’s goal is to form transdisciplinary teams of students from industrial design, engineering, visual communication design, and business who systematically work through a matrix of four questions:
1. What is valuable to users?
2. What is possible through engineering?
3. What is desirable to business?
4. What is good for society and the environment?
They aim to create products that: satisfy user needs and desires; apply innovative but proven engineering standards; create measurable value for business; and benefit society while minimizing impacts on the environment.
“The InnovationSpace curriculum is built on the premise that a traditional discipline-specific education no longer provides enough expertise or variation in thinking to handle the complex challenges of new product development,” says Prasad Boradkar, Director of Innovation Space.
Herman Miller’s InnovationSpace teams are assigned to Doug Bazuin, senior healthcare researcher. Although they specifically focus on healthcare, the students can choose any area within the spectrum of care.
A two-semester program, it begins with a research phase. In the ideation phase, the teams develop three ideas, from which they choose one to pursue, following through with the development phase, engineering, marketing/branding, and business implications.
“The ideas and enthusiasm from the students really bring a lot of energy and are extremely refreshing,” says Doug Bazuin. “Besides providing real world experience and advice, this program helps prepare future employees and educate future end users.”
“Buildex will offer the products, services, and technologies that will help upgrade and improve operations of all types of properties,” says Mark Falanga, senior VP at MMPI, which operates the Mart.
Announced Feb 11, the show will feature 150 exhibitors and 80 seminars geared toward building owners, property and facility managers, developers, and others. Visitors will see the latest innovations and learn strategies to enhance value, optimize building performance, implement greener and more energy efficient options, and deal with regulations.
With lighting gaining prominence as a critical design element, one Buildex highlight will be “ArchLed: LED Lighting for the Built Environment.” It’s billed as an LED summit and event showcasing solid-state lighting technology and integration.
Last summer, Herman Miller opened a new Los Angeles showroom near Culver City—with dramatic bowstring wood trusses, curved walls, and extensive detail—marking our presence in the area for 60 years. This year, the building was awarded LEED CI Platinum certification—the first of its kind in Los Angeles.
Rewind six decades. Have you ever wondered what the first showroom looked like?
Thanks to the Eames Office, we’re able to share vintage photos of the “Herman Miller Furniture Company Showroom,” opened in 1949 at 8806 Beverly Boulevard.
Designed by Charles Eames, the showroom was inspired by Case Study House #8 (also known as the Eames House), which was part of the Case Study House Program. Eames built upon what he learned from the Case Study houses to minimize the building’s interior connections and create a backdrop for the furniture–much of which was designed by the Eames Office.
The showroom’s exterior was similar to the Eames House, with its industrial steel frame and patterned glass panels. Skylights and windows let in natural light.
The Eameses always used an eclectic mix of objects in their showroom–from toys, plants, and folk art to found items in dime stores and specialty shops. It was the perfect setting for product introduction parties, as well as movie nights featuring Eames films.
For more information about the first Herman Miller Los Angeles showroom, check out the book Eames Design by Ray Eames and Marilyn & John Neuhart.
The examples of good learning spaces submitted by the seminar’s participants held some surprises: a garden in Devon; Britain’s National Art Library; and…Herman Miller’s National Design Centre in London, which students described as a “multi-functional modular open space…flexible, adaptable, ‘aspirational,’ interesting use of partitions.”
Herman Miller, of course, has researched how design affects learning for years and has contributed to a roster of educational environments that push the design-and-learning envelop. The Crosland Library at Georgia Tech, for example, or Columbia College in Chicago.
Remember your dorm room? Yuck. (Or maybe you can’t remember, but that’s another story.) The opposite of “yuck” is the trend today.
Take the William Jessup University in Rocklin, California, for example. It recently won an American Institute of Architects chapter award for its new student apartment building. Beyond being a great place to reside, the 192-bed, 24-apartment project preserved “the original conversion of the Herman Miller furniture factory, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.”
So, the place has the look, but does it deliver the good life? You bet. Each apartment has a full kitchen, wireless Internet, cable TV, central air, a two-story parking garage, laundry facilities, and a courtyard big enough for community gatherings and barbeques. “Boola, Boola.”
Once you pass through security, Chicago’s O’Hare International Terminal has little to offer. A few vending machines and a barren mile or so of concourses stretching in either direction. You can walk, or you can sleep. I chose to walk.
After trekking the north concourse, I headed south, where posters began to bloom on the walls. These were not your beach-and-palm-tree images. They were colorful, whimsical works of art announcing a concert in Mexico City or promoting peace or literacy in the U.S.
“Design luminary” John Massey had been the Top Dogs’ top dog—the head juror for the competition. This poster, as sophisticated and understated in black and white as the furniture it was promoting, seemed like a tip of the hat from one grand master of design to another.
You just never know what you’ll find hanging around in an airport during a long layover.
The 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) concluded on January 10 after four days of new product displays, conference sessions, and celebrity appearances. Over 2,500 technology companies gathered in Las Vegas, contributing to the record number of new exhibits at this year’s show. Even amidst all of the excitement among technology products, Herman Miller’s Envelop desk created quite a buzz.
Envelop, a desk that moves with the user as he or she reclines, was featured with the Embody chair. Envelop was well received by designers and users alike, drawing considerable media attention. Since its appearance at CES, Envelop has received excited reviews from multiple media sources, including the popular blogs Gizmodo, Uncrate, and PhotoInduced, for its ergonomic benefits and ability to comfortably cater to the user.
Envelop’s clever design ultimately has the user in mind. At CES 2010, they noticed.