Design, Products, Technology
February 5, 2010
Recently, the Associated Press distributed an article about how “sitting too much could be deadly.” A number of regional newspapers, including my hometown Chicago Tribune picked it up. As a furniture industry veteran and seating researcher for the better part of two decades, it was too broad—and dire—a statement for my personal comfort.
In helping designers like Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber to develop Herman Miller products—from stacking chairs, such as Caper, to high-performance work chairs, such as Embody—I’ve learned that sitting, comfort, and health are not so cut-and-dried.
In the 1990s I began using pressure map technology, which visualizes what the seat and sitter interface looks like—and how it changes depending on seat construction and the posture of the sitter. These changes translate to comfort or discomfort for the user.
More recently, in the course of our Embody chair development, I commissioned researchers at both the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Milwaukee’s Marquette University, who measured the amount of oxygen in the blood flowing to and from subjects’ lower extremities and heart rate–key health measures. It turns out, both improved when users sat in the Embody chair, versus other chairs, doing the same seated tasks in both.
So, it’s not a simple question of sitting down or standing up—but where and how you’re sitting.
February 4, 2010
A compact little book called 100 Quotes by Charles Eames is full of insights from the designer that apply not only to life behind the drawing board, but beyond it as well. Some examples:
#2: Eventually everything connects—people, ideas, objects…the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.”
#20: “We’ve always been aware of not…attempting to solve the problem of how people should sit, but rather accepting the way people do sit …and operating within that framework.”
#40: “We worked very hard at…enjoying ourselves. We didn’t let anything interfere with what we were doing—our hard work. That in itself was a great pleasure.”
#53: “The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests.”
#69: “Among the great and elegant design exceptions is a toy produced this year that has swept the country. What is it? A small bouncing ball—the Superball.”
#91: “Art resides in the quality of doing; process is not magic.”
Each quote is in seven languages: English, Complex Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Brazilian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The book, published by Eames Office, includes some of Eames’ favorite quotes from others, too. Might make a nice gift for yourself or someone you know who’s an Eames’ devotee.
Herman Miller Journal, What's Up
February 2, 2010
FORTUNE magazine recently published its 13th annual listing of “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Several recognizable brands made the list, including SAS, Whole Foods Market, Google, FedEx, and Herman Miller. These brands represent a variety of industries, so what do they all have in common?
According to FORTUNE and the Great Place to Work® Institute, a global research and consulting firm, the listings are a result of a survey that solicits information from organizations and their employees about credibility of management, job satisfaction, camaraderie, recruiting, and employee services.
But this year’s list also considers the ways companies are helping their employees weather the recession. Although this past year wasn’t an easy one for Herman Miller, we reinforced our commitment to our employees by developing supportive programs and initiatives. These programs and initiatives are highlighted in three categories–Balancing, Including, and Celebrating–included on the Great Place to Work Institute Culture Audit©, which is used in part to establish the overall FORTUNE rankings.
Better World, Design
February 1, 2010
Photo via: Social Designer
Kristin at Novità Communications in Brooklyn asked design writers like me to “spread the word to the creative community” about a very cool competition from Felissimo and Social Designer. Here’s the design brief:
You create a one-minute video that shows or tells the story of something you believe is worth waiting for, or, from experience, something you had to wait for that was worth it in the end. The winner gets $500, plus a set of 500 Colored Pencils from Felissimo.
Deadline is March 16, so it’s time to get focused.
Felissimo is a subscription-based clothing and household goods company that believes good design promotes happiness and well-being, adding value to everyday life. Sounds a lot like Herman Miller. Says Felissimo: “We hope that our efforts will demonstrate our awareness of the power of design and our responsibility to take good design and use it to design good.”
When you order the 500 Colored Pencils, every month you receive a box of 25 new colors, from Drizzly Afternoon to Lobster Bisque, until you have a full, rich rainbow to draw from. For every 100 boxes of pencils sold, Felissimo donates a set to a UNESCO arts education program for underprivileged kids.
Felissimo created Social Designer, an online platform for customers, consumers, and designers to meet and participate in design for the greater good. It also helps promote meaningful causes by developing high-visibility design competitions for corporations and nonprofits.