Education, What's Up
July 30, 2010
Herman Miller’s Education Solutions team recently asked students to provide feedback about where they learn best so that it could help higher education institutions better accommodate learning styles. The contest made me wonder where I learn best. I’m a college senior and I’m constantly looking for a place to study.
The desk in my dorm room now is stored in the dorm’s basement to make room for a couch and coffee table. And if I’m not studying in my dorm room (sans desk), I’m usually at a nearby coffee shop for the Wi-Fi, caffeine, and comfy seating. It’s a great place for study breaks, which often involve listening to music and catching-up with friends.
I also like to study at the campus library, especially during finals week. Its rooms and desks, however, quickly fill-up during this time frame, with other students quietly cramming for their exams or writing their last research paper for the semester. This isn’t the time for being distracted by Facebook or socializing with roommates.
These locations each serve different student needs, so how should colleges and universities adapt to these needs? Several campuses across the country are creating multi-functional spaces, which is a step in the right direction—as long as they have moveable desks.
Better World, What's Up
July 28, 2010
You couldn’t adjust an Embody chair without the part made in this mold. Primera Plastics does it. Noel Cuellar and Ethan Barde run the company. They’re “graduates” of our mentoring effort, a part of the Supplier Diversity Program we began 20 years ago.
We’ve made a lot of progress since then, and report on our performance each year. Primera—“a couple of guys who started with nothing,” according to Noel—has also grown. With hard work and guidance from us on logistics and lean manufacturing, it is now a Tier 1 supplier for us and the largest Hispanic-owned company in West Michigan.
Primera is not alone among our diverse suppliers. At the end of last fiscal year, our total spending with minority-owned businesses reached 14.5 percent.
“That translates to just under $100 million last fiscal year,” notes Kimberly Coffman, Herman Miller’s manager of Supplier Diversity. “It may not seem like a big number, but on a percentage basis, we’re in the same league as the DiversityInc Top 10 companies. They averaged 13 percent of their direct contractor spending with minority-owned businesses.”
Coffman says Herman Miller isn’t about to dwell on the 20th anniversary of its Supplier Diversity Program. “We have an ambitious 17 percent goal for spending with minority-owned businesses for this fiscal year,” she says. “It’s within reach too, because we don’t just believe that a diverse community makes for a stronger company, we act on it.”
Another action step this year is our new Supplier Diversity Advisory Council. “Our CFO is the executive sponsor,” says Coffman. “I think that says a lot about our commitment to developing a diverse supplier base. For us, doing good is synonymous with doing good business.”
July 28, 2010
During my recent job shadow of a nurse working on the med/surg floor at a nearby hospital, it felt like we walked for miles during his shift. I was probably right. According to a 2008 study, nurses walk between one and five miles per 10-hour daytime shift.
This amount of walking is caused mainly by central workstations and longer, inefficient circulation paths to single patient rooms. This was the case during my shadow experience. Not only was our travel route inefficient, it also resulted in greater activity at the workstation where concentration and limited interruptions are so important.
Single patient rooms are advantageous and preferable for a number of reasons, but the resultant unit configurations have created even longer travel distances for nurses. These rooms are larger and when located side by side, the distance increases from one patient to the next.
This activity could be remedied by decentralizing supplies, equipment, and medications to the patient room. Or, another strategy would be to design narrower support cores with more cross circulation. Designing more circulation paths through the support core would enable nurses to work cross corridor and reduce their travel distances.
Decentralizing supplies, equipment and medications, and designing narrower support cores with cross circulation are key to reducing travel distances and promoting safe and efficient nurse environments. Plus, the additional time they save could be spent with patients—a win-win situation for all.
Top photo via: Flickr.com
July 26, 2010
When I meet with Herman Miller’s customers to talk about the different generations in the workplace, I usually face a group that represents the focus of our discussion. This group includes Baby Boomers, GenXers, and Millennials who work together.
A Baby Boomer might be the leader, a Millennial the established expert, and a GenXer the newest member of the group. Or perhaps the Millennial is the leader of the group and the Boomer is the expert?
I’ve learned not to assume anything about anybody. Keeping an open mind about others should apply to our dealings with the world beyond the workplace, but it often takes an eye-opening experience to realize this.
My eyes get opened all the time.
July 23, 2010
As the world becomes more connected, the number of companies expanding into other countries is increasing. This expansion involves adapting to a variety of cultures and customs. If this step is overlooked, the company could face an embarrassing situation.
The use of color, for example, is an important cultural element that companies need to consider because of its implications for office design. David McCandless’ infographic cleverly demonstrates the meaning of a color according to its cultural context. It shows that the Chinese associate red with good luck, success, and marriage. For Hindus, red symbolizes energy and money. In South Africa, it symbolizes death, and in Russia, power.
So where does a company start? First, it’s important to learn about a country’s culture and how its people view things such as color. Only then can you design appropriate environments for those who will work in them.
July 21, 2010
Editor’s note: This is the first post in a six-part series that will focus on improving caregiver work environments.
It’s been more than 20 years since I went from a career as a nurse to being an architect. So when I recently had the chance to shadow a nurse for eight hours, a number of things about his work environment surprised me.
I was sure that advances in technology and equipment would make work for nurses less demanding. That would give them more time with patients. I was wrong. Nurses are working harder than ever for longer hours and with sicker patients. And the number of patients they treat is increasing because of a nursing shortage.
Considerable attention has been given to patient-focused and family-centered environments. But only limited focus has been given to creating sustainable environments for nurses. Their environments remain stressful and inefficient, which unfortunately can lead to medical errors.
I wasn’t surprised when I saw a survey indicating that more than one-third of nurses would not recommend their profession to young people. The physical demands are great—six hours went by before we sat down for the first time—and the emotional stress can be exhausting.
As a nurse, I understand the demands faced by caregivers. As an architect, I believe my profession can respond to those demands by designing safe and efficient nurse environments that also provide respite and rejuvenation.
In part two of her series, Cardon will focus on decentralizing the nursing unit.
Photo via: WorkingNurse.com
July 19, 2010
For a slip of a woman, Carol Catalano’s life is writ large. She founded Catalano Design in 1987 and since has produced award-winning work for a variety of clients in a range of industries, from professional knives to car and home electronics to the Capelli stool for Herman Miller, which won silver in both The International Furniture Design Competition Asahikawa in 1999 in Japan and the IDEA award in 2002. While she loves learning about the industries she designs for, “now the first thing I think about in any project is how I can simplify and enrich people’s lives.”
Her own life may not be simple, but it is certainly rich and active. She windsurfs and skate-skis (who knew?), and practices lyengar yoga. She loves cooking and good food and is about to send her 18-year-old twins off to college in the fall.
Here are 7 questions for Carol Catalano:
1. What are you working on right now?
I just finished a line of knives for people with arthritis. The knives are manufactured in Massachusetts by Dexter Russell. Before starting the design process we conducted extensive research with arthritis sufferers, which helped us really understand their needs. Currently I am working on a display for Zildjian, the cymbal manufacturer, a metronome for D’Addario and a chair for Geiger International.
I’ve also been collaborating with my husband, who is an architect, on a LEED for Homes addition to our house on Cape Cod. This has involved lots of research on sustainable technologies, processes, and materials. The project will include passive solar, photovoltaic panels for electricity, a solar hot water collector, a rainwater collection system for irrigation, and eventually a vertical axis wind turbine that will mount on our roof.
2. Which of your products are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the Capelli stool for Herman Miller. It came about during a time when I was working on a long, tedious, engineering focused project. By contrast the Capelli stool provided an outlet where I could focus on something creative and much more free of constraints.
3. What inspires you? Where do you go for inspiration?
For me, inspiration comes when I can be completely in the moment, and I’m able to let everything else go. For instance, I am an avid windsurfer, which can require complete concentration, and frequently this is when ideas for projects that I am working on will come to me. Observing the way nature solves problems is another source of inspiration that I draw on. I love exploring new processes and materials, and experimenting with ideas that grow from that exposure. I’m always looking for ways to cross-pollinate ideas from one industry to another.
4. What work do you most admire by another designer or artist?
I am fascinated with the work of sculptor Anish Kapoor. His experimentation with surface tension and positive and negative space forces me to think differently about our three-dimensional world. I especially enjoyed his installation “Memory” at the Guggenheim in NYC.
5. What would be your dream projects?
My dream project would involve designing a product or system that supports and improves one’s health and well being, makes true advances in sustainability, is beautiful to look at and be around, and is something people would want in their lives.
6. What place in the world would you most like to visit?
Rapa Nui (one of the Easter Islands). Basically, I am interested in traveling anywhere that I can experience indigenous culture and food.
7. What one thing do you want to accomplish before you die?
To have a farm by the ocean where I could grow vegetables and raise chickens, cows and pigs. The farm would have a brick oven for making bread and pizza and a cheese cave where I could make and age my own cheese. Most importantly, it would be a place where people would gather to talk, design, share, and connect with others all while eating delicious local food.
July 16, 2010
Call me crazy, but I love Detroit. Few do these days, and it’s a tragedy that this complex city is so devastated. But give it a try. The Detroit Jazz Fest, for example, is fabulous; you feel and hear the beating heart of the city’s great people. The Detroit Institute of Arts is redone and remarkable. Comerica Park is fun—go Tigers! Good restaurants. Concerts at the Fox Theatre. It’s all there, and so much more. Plus, the cars are competing again.
Sure, there are problems, to put it mildly. I admit that often while driving past the many bleak remains, I’ve thought it would be best to just bulldoze the crumbling husks and start over. Make a new city: smaller, well planned, green, with room to grow.
Trouble is, there are lots of buildings that may look ready for the wrecking ball, but are actually historic, architectural treasures that beg for preservation as the city is remade. But which ones stay and which ones go? The Detroit Free Press lets you express your opinion in an article called, “Be reasonable: Should these vacant Detroit buildings be saved?”
Be sure to check out the reader comments. You get a broad sense of people’s anguish, love, hope, and hopelessness. And while you’re at it, read this wonderful article by Free Press columnist Mitch Albom writing for SI.com: “The Courage of Detroit.”
Design, What's Up
July 15, 2010
Editor’s note: In this second of two posts, Olson shares her thoughts about Design Star and offers advice to aspiring interior designers.
This summer, HGTV’s Design Star began its fifth season. Twelve creative professionals compete in fast–paced design challenges for the opportunity to host and design for a new series on HGTV. Acclaimed interior designers Genevieve Gorder, Candice Olson, and Vern Yip do the judging.
Candice attributes the show’s success to several factors, including the challenges, the array of talent, great design, and—of course—the drama.
She’s amazed by what the contestants accomplish in the challenges with so little time or resources. “We’re really getting them to flex their design muscles,” she says. “It’s more about what inspires you. How does it manifest itself in the design?”
She admits that the judges had a very difficult time selecting the winner. It was such a close competition that they had to leave the set for a few hours to determine who would receive the grand prize.
“It’s a reality show, but in this case something happens after the filming is over,” she adds. “There’s no other show where you win the opportunity to host your own show. That’s a huge prize. The winner is catapulted to something that took me 15 years to achieve.”
Her advice for aspiring interior designers who crave success?
“Don’t expect to graduate and be successful without a whole lot of work behind you. It’s a business. Get out there and market yourself or run and grow your business. You need to understand the business side of it, otherwise it’s just a hobby.”
Photos via hgtv.com
Design, Healthcare, Products
July 14, 2010
When Herman Miller Healthcare decided it was going to design the Compass system, a modular furnishings solution for the patient room, it went right to the source: the people who work in healthcare every day.
According to Doug Bazuin, senior researcher for Herman Miller Healthcare, the Compass design team interviewed more than 550 clinicians, administrators, facility managers, and healthcare architects and interior designers to determine what healthcare issues are most important to them. Four key concerns kept rising to the top:
1. Support changing technology
2. Improve nurse efficiency
3. Improve the family experience
4. Be healthcare appropriate
In this video, Bazuin discusses how this research was applied to the final product design.
Launched in June at NeoCon, the award-winning Compass system is ready to help healthcare professionals navigate change. That’s the benefit of going the source.