Better World, Design
July 12, 2010
Most people going to South Africa in late June went for the World Cup, but not all of them. My reason for going was to take part in the FORTUNE Global Forum. It was an international gathering of business, government, and NGO leaders. Most attendees came from China and North America and, of course, the African continent.
The China representation wasn’t surprising, since that country is one of the biggest investors in Africa. The continent’s natural resources are one reason. Here’s another: the rate of return on foreign investment, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report, “higher in Africa than in any other developing region.”
Even with the problems African nations face, their economies are developing fast, almost as fast as the BRIC nations. To keep development going requires innovative thinking. I was privileged to be part of a panel discussion on “Innovation by Design.” We discussed how design can make products, buildings, and even villages better. I shared my thoughts, as did architects Frank Gehry, Rodney Harber, and Luyanda Mpahlwa.
And speaking of innovation, we were able to feature Herman Miller’s latest innovation, the Embody chair; 400 of them filled the main conference room, along with our classics and Setu chairs in the lobby, thanks to the efforts of our local dealer, AllOffice. All in all, it was a great experience, although I didn’t get a chance to buy a vuvuzela.
Photo via David Rogers/Getty Images
July 9, 2010
Although the U.S. lost its bid for the World Cup, it did score a big win for collaboration and democracy. Back on Saturday, June 26, Holly Kriger and I spent the day in an exhibit hall in Chicago linked virtually to 19 states and thousands of other people to help lead the largest national town hall meeting in history.
More than 3,500 of us discussed the challenges of our federal budget and what should be done to fix it. It was an inspiring event sponsored by AmericaSpeaks, a non-partisan advocacy group devoted to making the voices of all Americans heard.
Those assembled closely match U.S. demographics. Their recommendations will be presented to, among others, the budget committees in the House and Senate.
During the process of leading small group discussions, we both learned that:
• Dialogue transforms. People were influenced by each other. Sometimes their views changed, sometimes they didn’t. But it was always helpful for those on opposite sides to really listen to the perspective of others.
• Trust matters. People trust leaders who are transparent, accountable, and focused on issues and results, not political back-biting.
• Information and feedback drive solutions. Being linked with laptops and voting technology allowed us to see immediately how people across the country were responding, voting, and struggling through the issues. This immediacy fed the discussion.
These lessons apply to the work we do with Herman Miller customers every day. Who knew that a day focused on the federal budget could be so inspiring?
July 8, 2010
She’s the host and designer for HGTV’s popular Divine Design and back as a judge for another season of HGTV Design Star. She’s a mother, author, and manages her own brand of home decor products. Delightful, elegant, savvy, and the person you wish was your next-door neighbor—Candice Olson is passionate about helping others realize the power of design.
She understands that her clients are after a certain look, style, and service. She keeps her design approach fresh by incorporating elements from areas such as fashion, travel, and history.
For example, Candice keeps her finger on the pulse of fashion and fashion-forward ideas. Zink magazine is her favorite design publication to read because of its approach to fashion and creativity.
She also appreciates and admires fashion designer Ralph Lauren because of his design vision and longevity: “He’s had his own brand for decades, and he always manages to keep it fresh and reinvents himself. He does it so perfectly.”
Travel also is important to her because it is much more accessible to her customers than when she began her career: “People at one time requested English Country as a style, without ever traveling to the English countryside. Now, their travels and experiences impact their design style, so I’ll ask them to bring these travel interests to the table.”
She also believes in the importance of including traditional and historic references in her projects—these are the touches that provide a nod to the past and keep a space classic and current.
Reflecting on the rising popularity of Divine Design and Design Star, she notes, “Design is so exciting now. People are realizing the power of design. Design can change the way they live—their lives can change for the better. They can feel better, entertain better, love better.”
She thinks back to a time when there was no HGTV network or shelter magazines—interior design was for the rich: “People are living design and understanding what tools they need to make their lives better. This is one of the rewarding parts, and that’s why I’m still in the business.”
Photo via: www.hgtv.com
Watch Candice on HGTV’s Divine Design, Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST, and Design Star, Sundays at 10 p.m. EST.
Next week, look for the second of two blog posts featuring Candice and her thoughts about this season’s Design Star.
July 7, 2010
Imagine being required by a hospital or insurance company to be present at all times in a family member’s patient room?
I’ve heard about this happening in some U.S. hospitals and in healthcare facilities abroad. Evidence suggests social support from family helps patients heal emotionally and physically. The presence of family also can reduce the risk of a patient fall. So, it’s likely that teaching family to be caregivers inside and outside of the hospital will increase as hospitals face the need to reduce 30-day hospital re-admissions and deal with staff shortages.
This prompts the need for a family zone in the patient room, which is referenced in a research summary titled, “Patient Rooms: A Changing Scene of Healing,” but what features create the best family zone? You might see a work surface, a place to sleep, access to power, or Wi-Fi. Some hospitals already are including a second television or refrigerator. Going forward, patient rooms will have to adapt to support the needs of families as caregivers.
Technology, What's Up
July 5, 2010
Those Gen X, Y, and Z whippersnappers may be all about mobility and working-wherever-you-are, but we boomers can be adaptable, too, as Robin noted in a previous Discover blog post.
I recently traded my Aeron chair for a campground bench and my home office for a 14-foot trailer and am about to test the limits of all this mobile technology ballyhoo. I’ve only gotten as far as northern Michigan, but so far I’ve learned:
1. I can’t work outside. All that natural light that office workers covet overpowers even the brightest computer monitor and strains my aging eyes. So I’m forced into my cubicle-sized and non-ergonomic office that also is my living space.
2. Wi-Fi is ubiquitous wherever there are people. However, no people; no Wi-Fi. There is, apparently, technology that brings Wi-Fi to your computer via satellite signals, so theoretically I could get it even where cell phones fail. My friend says the device works “like magic,” but I’m testing the limits of my budget before I bite on the added monthly charge.
3. So far, cell phone coverage isn’t bad. Even in the middle of the forest, I can often pick up two bars, which is enough for a semi-dependable conversation—or a call to 911.
4. I can recharge my computer with an inverter attached to my truck battery, but the adapter gets really, really hot.
I haven’t crossed national boundaries yet, or tried, like my Gen-Y daughter, to send photos from Peru, nor have I sampled the smart phone gadgetry beloved by my kids, but so far technology has been reasonably mobile. The biggest adjustment has been losing instant and continuous Internet access, but I’d say the view is worth it.
July 2, 2010
Herman Miller’s beautiful outdoor plant display, created for NeoCon, has a new home. Although it wasn’t designed as a healing garden, it will surely be a source of comfort to the women and children of Madonna House, a homeless shelter for victims of domestic violence, where the trees, flowers and bushes now reside.
It was all part of a plan that blossomed into a feel good story with a great outcome. It started when the Herman Miller folks responsible for the plant display decided to donate it after NeoCon. Herman Miller’s A&D Rep in Chicago, Alan Almasy suggested Designs for Dignity (D4D), a non-profit group whose mission is engaging the design community to bring good design to those who can least afford it.
D4D volunteers had completed the interior of the shelter last winter, so the timing was perfect. “And a garden is such a serene and wonderful healing environment,” says Michelle Weiner, who serves on the D4D board and is V.P. Strategic Development at Interior Investments, Herman Miller’s Chicago dealership.
So on Friday, June 18, a hot, muggy morning, volunteers from Herman Miller, Interior Investments, area design firms, students, and the Madonna House/Catholic Charities Administrative team arrived with shovels in hand to transform a barren backyard into a lush, green garden.
Christy Webber, owner of the landscaping company that originally created the display for Herman Miller, also donated her services, equipment and manpower to help out. “It’s the best volunteer crew I’ve ever seen!” she said of the hard-working task force.
And the people at Madonna House couldn’t be happier with the results. As Morgan Henington of Catholic Charities said, “This ‘forever gift’ is so pretty and vibrant. It’s already attracting butterflies and will bring so much pleasure to our moms and their children.”
And get this: to complete the circle, the garden will be maintained by a city-sponsored program called “Green Corps Chicago,” which provides green-industry training and permanent job placement for dozens of Chicagoans every year.
And to think it all started with one little idea someone planted that just grew…and grew…and grew…