Better World, Design
August 30, 2010
When a premier designer and manufacturer of high performance electric cars offers to stop by for a visit, you know you’re doing something right. This was the case with Tesla Motors.
On its way to Saugatuck, Michigan, for a stop on its Electric Summer Roadster Tour, Tesla visited our Design Yard facility with its new Roadster.
Long-time admirers of our environmental goals and achievements, those at Tesla thought it would a neat experience to show us what they’re up to.
We’re so glad they did.
On a sunny Friday afternoon, several employees gathered in the parking lot to ogle, admire, and even test drive the Fusion Red beauty.
Some got a little carried away.
Even a local reporter joined the fun.
It’s unknown if anyone was able to validate the car’s ability to get from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, but it looks like a few of them had fun trying.
August 30, 2010
Most people spend Saturday mornings with a cup of coffee or a newspaper. For some of us from the Herman Miller office in Bangalore, India, Saturday, August 7, began with a visit to the Ashraya orphanage.
This was an event that we had been planning for weeks. It took 10 days to collect donations, 30 minutes of driving time, and 14 wonderful children to make that one day really special.
We first met with the manager to drop-off our donations, and then we met the kids. To our surprise, the kids greeted us by standing up, folding their hands (trust me, it was very cute), and saying their names one-by-one.
After we introduced ourselves to them, they talked to us about the things they like—daily activities, favorite foods, and many other wonderful, innocent things.
After lunch, we played a few games with the kids. Soon thereafter we had to leave because it was time for them to meet with their painting teacher. She was a young girl who volunteers her services to Ashraya on weekends.
Because of this experience, a few of us also decided to spare some time every weekend and teach something to the kids.
And it all began from just one Saturday morning.
August 27, 2010
So you’re an executive who strives to make your real estate more efficient and your workplace more effective. It’s necessary. But it’s not easy.
Enter Herman Miller’s Space Utilization Service. Space Utilization Service makes it a lot simpler to gather accurate occupancy data and create the workplace you visualize.
Before Space Utilization Service, the typical method of gathering data was to walk around with a clipboard and count heads. Then you multiply the number of heads by some standard allocation of square feet per person, and voila, you get an estimate of space needs. But that’s exactly the problem. You only get estimates.
With Space Utilization Service, you get accuracy. A small, wireless motion sensor is attached to your work chairs to detect occupancy. The sensors transmit data continuously for six weeks so you can measure, track, and study occupancy and get a precise picture of your space usage. You can analyze on any level you want—entire buildings, conference rooms, common areas, individual workstations.
Using this information, Herman Miller can help you rationalize your real estate and tailor it to fit your people and how they actually work. These days, for example, that often means more support for collaboration and touchdown work, smaller workstations, and less floor space allocated to individual work.
Whatever the case, your real estate will work harder and your people will be more productive. Even better: use Herman Miller’s Energy Manager, too, and reduce your energy costs.
August 25, 2010
Respite areas within healthcare environments for patients and families are becoming popular features. But what about creating respite areas for nurses?
Healthcare environments can be very stressful and exhausting environments. And, because of the nursing shortage, there is a tremendous incentive to recruit and retain valuable staff. Creating healing environments for nurses is a powerful tool to aid that effort.
Places of healing and respite might be as simple as including discrete areas within the nursing unit to sit and take a deep breath. Sometimes, however, nurses just need a place to get away.
Creating a single occupancy respite room would allow staff to recharge the spirit, rejuvenate the body, and replenish the soul. No televisions or phones. Possible soothing features would include a lounge chair, aromatherapy, a water feature, dimmable lighting, and soft music.
These respite spaces must be thoughtfully and adequately programmed so that staff has room to breathe. And just like we provide access to natural light for our patients and families, we must also give our nurses this same caring treatment. Some staff spaces are being designed with access to outdoor space adjacent to the staff lounge. Having space to be outdoors where nurses can get a breath of fresh air can be very curative.
As designers of healthcare environments, we have a fabulous opportunity to be the change agents—and create healing environments that will help recruit and retain nurses.
August 23, 2010
Designers have such fun jobs, don’t they? Take Debra Toppel, for example. She created the gorgeous floral arrangements for Herman Miller’s showroom at NeoCon. From there, she joined the crew as head greens foreman for the movie, “What You Don’t Know,” starring Vince Vaughn and directed by Ron Howard, where she oversaw “many, many hundreds of square feet” of landscaping on the set.
“I love it all,” said Toppel about her wide-ranging projects, which sometimes call for “inventing” her own creations.
Toppel started out as a retail florist in Chicago, where her reputation for excellence led to set design jobs for movies being filmed in the Windy City. She says her favorite projects are those that require her to “invent something I’ve never done before, where I have to take my experience and say, All right, how can I Frankenstein this into something that will work…”
Like when the American Girl doll company asked her to create a winter fantasy forest with 12-foot oak trees looking like they were lining Michigan Avenue. Or when companies like Glade and Herbal Essence want her to create flowers for their packaging that don’t really exist in nature. “I go to the hardware store and find things that are made for one purpose and use them for something else,” says Toppel. “I love to let my eye expand, to look at (an object) and then morph it into what it needs to do for the particular situation.”
She says she has a “wild passion” for her work and enjoys the small jobs as much as the large ones. “I still like doing corporate work because it keeps my hands in the real world, seeing what the trends are, what’s happening in real life. When you’re working on films, it’s like ‘acting’ with flowers; it’s more about the whole show; nothing should pop out at you.” The arrangements she did for Herman Miller, however, did pop out at you – in a good way. “NeoCon is almost a visceral experience for me,” states Toppel. “It’s like the Superbowl of floral design, demanding the highest attention to detail and quality. And I have to say, working for Herman Miller is a true honor. There are certain design standards in the industry that are considered exceptionally important, and we all know where Herman Miller stands on that.”
Toppel says she’s humbled by her success, especially in the film industry. “I actually have a degree in film production so it’s interesting how I turned left and wound up in the center, you know?”
It is. And Ron Howard, among others, is probably pretty happy she did.
Herman Miller Journal
August 20, 2010
Here’s one for the grill! This New York Strip Steak recipe from Marigold Lodge is sure to impress your friends and family. Try it with last week’s Green Bean Salad recipe to complete your entrée.
New York Strip Steak au Poivre with Avocado Butter
8 8-ounce strip steaks, seasoned with course ground pepper and salt
¼ pound soft unsalted butter
1 avocado, cubed
1 lemon, juiced
Place butter, avocado, and lemon juice in a food processor. Mix until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the butter onto a long sheet of cellophane wrap (about 12 inches long). Roll up butter in the cellophane to form a log. Place in the refrigerator for one hour.
Season steaks and grill them to a desired temperature.
Slice butter into half-inch medallions and place on steaks.
August 18, 2010
Medication errors are a major problem for healthcare providers. This is the result of several factors, many of which stem from nurses working harder than ever for longer hours and with sicker patients. Plus, their environments are often stressful and inefficient.
My recent job shadow of a nurse brought this situation home to me. There are several ways to make healing environments more safe and efficient. When it comes to medications, the best approach is to decentralize them to the patient room.
Nurses face frequent interruptions when they’re working. According to a recent study, those interruptions lead to medication errors. I observed this first-hand when my nurse encountered several interruptions during his shift. Securely storing medications near the patient would help to eliminate interruptions—especially those that occur between the med room and the patient room.
This move also would reduce nurse travel distances. Nurses typically walk long distances to the med room—my nurse accessed the med room 38 times in eight hours!
When nurses are retrieving medications from the med room, they have to wait to access the automated medication dispensing machine. Storing medications at the patient room would eliminate that wasted time spent waiting and would enable nurses to spend more time with their patients.
And then there’s waiting for the nurse to return from the med room. While nurses are waiting to access the automated medication dispensing machine, patients are waiting for them. This isn’t a good situation, particularly if the patient is in pain.
Storing medications in the patient room is part of creating flexible and adaptable environments for nurses. We architects must create spaces for nurses that help them deliver quality care.
August 17, 2010
Your first reaction to that claim might be, “What? They make furniture.” And you would be right. But we’re committed to reducing our environmental footprint and using renewable energy. In fact, on Earth Day 2010, we announced that we would begin using 100 percent green electrical energy.
But we aren’t alone in preventing those carbon emissions. We are one of 50 organizations, including businesses, cities/municipalities, universities, and nonprofits, recognized by the U.S. EPA as Green Power Partners. That means we’re one of the top purchasers of renewable energy.
According to the EPA, in 2009, the top 50 Green Power Partners used more than 12 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power. This amount was equivalent to having prevented the release of CO2 emissions from the electricity use of more than one million average American homes for one year.
I think it’s safe to say that doubts around the viability of renewable energy are now a thing of the past. And we’re happy to be a part of making that a reality.
Design, What's Up
August 16, 2010
This year, Herman Miller’s Select program is offering a classic interpretation of the multicolored Eames Hang-It-All. Sophisticated touches to the already eye-catching design include a black steel frame and solid walnut hooks.
The Hang-It-All was inspired by the Eameses’ love for playful furniture and children’s toys. Introduced in 1953, it was designed to hold an assortment of children’s belongings—mittens, scarves, jackets, dolls, slingshots, skates, and knapsacks, according to Eames Design.
It was available from Tigrett Enterprises’ Playhouse Division until the company went out of business in 1961. Herman Miller reintroduced it in 1994.
Herman Miller’s Gregg Vander Kooi chose to feature the Hang-It-All as this year’s Select item because of its whimsical appeal.
“Plus,” he adds, “walnut is a fairly neutral wood that fits with almost any décor.”
The Select Hang-It-All carries a minimum advertised price of $249. It will be available from the company’s global network of dealerships and retailers.
Hurry! It’s only available until February 15, 2011, or while supplies last.
Herman Miller Journal
August 13, 2010
This delicious Green Bean Salad recipe from Marigold Lodge is a perfect summertime side dish.
Green Bean Salad
3 pounds green beans, blanched
2 ears of fresh sweet corn, washed and cut off the cob
1 pint pear or grape tomatoes
½ small red onion, minced
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1½ cup olive oil
In a small mixing bowl, add vinegar and oil and mix well.
Add all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add vinaigrette and toss.
Salt and pepper to taste.