September 10, 2010
There are projects that go well and there are those that deliver such excellent results that you want to shout about them. This is the case with Syngenta Seeds. Syngenta recently enlisted Herman Miller’s Consulting team to orchestrate a change management and communications program to support its move into a new headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
Syngenta did everything right. It began the change efforts before construction and it frequently communicated with its 300 employees along the way. Budget and timing issues often force compromises onto change management plans. Not here. Syngenta took our advice, worked with us to develop a plan, and together we ran with it.
Syngenta realized the benefits of tapping into proven best practices. And, its willingness to apply its resources to the full execution of the plan paved the way for successful change–the kind everyone could get behind.
The energy and time it invested in change management made a huge difference in the response from employees and success of the move.
September 9, 2010
Anyone over the age of 45 knows that things happen as we age. Reading glasses sometimes make an appearance, as do sore knees after exercise or a stiff back in the morning.
Nurses are particularly aware of the effects of aging. The average age of U.S. nurses happens to be 46.8–the highest of all occupations in the world. Years of lifting and moving patients, and walking several miles during every shift, take a toll. Nursing also ranks among the top occupations for work-related back injuries—more than coal mining and manufacturing.
It is possible, however, to make nurse environments safer and more efficient. For example, the design of the central core unit—an area where nurses gather supplies, medications, check patient records, and consult with coworkers—is a good place to start.
Providing better lighting for reading prescriptions and locating medications, supplies, and equipment, and placing these items within arms length will reduce strenuous bending and reaching. Smart floor layouts also will reduce the amount of walking and give nurses more time to be with patients.
These steps will have a positive impact on the satisfaction and performance of nurses and address the particular realities of an aging workforce.
September 8, 2010
Arturo Guerrero’s life is the stuff of fairy tales–with a touch of luck and a lot of hard work. He was born in 1960 in the fabled city of Madrid and earned a degree in architecture. Then, he somehow took a left-hand turn and decided to become a painter.
Not content to remain comfortably ensconced amid familiar surroundings, he moved in 1993 with his wife, Ana Larrea, and two daughters, Blanca and Lola, to New York City, where he has been working ever since.
Guerrero rides his bike to his Brooklyn studio every morning, paints all day, and returns in the evening to “cook wonderful dinners for my family and occasionally my friends.” Guerrero says that his work “reflects how he, as a Spaniard, views life in New York.”
His work is often muted, sometimes colorful, always attractive, and frequently abstract. Despite traversing a less-traveled and risky road, he seems well on his way to living happily ever after.
Here are seven questions for Arturo Guerrero:
1. What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a series of paintings of which the main subject is the wind. As it passes through the trees or it runs over the surface of the water. Right now I’m also painting urban landscapes at twilight hours.
September 7, 2010
Designers excel at thinking about form and function. They are less adept at thinking about objects as cultural expression, says Prasad Boradkar, an associate professor of Industrial Design at Arizona State University and author of a new book, Designing Things: The Cultural Meaning of Objects.
“It’s not a part of normal design discourse to talk about theory—to talk about how we [designers] think about objects,” he says. He hopes the book, which is an interdisciplinary look at the cultural meanings of the things we use every day and the designer’s role in that process, will be the impetus for more discussion.
The book also explores the worth of things, the making things, the greed imperative, planned obsolescence, and even fetish objects, all the while using product examples from companies like Nike, Bling H2O, and Herman Miller.
He was inspired to include Herman Miller in the book not just because of the iconic nature of some products but also because of the company’s values, including the way it embraced design early and for the right reasons, its emphasis on durability (the 12-year warranty), and sustainability. And he admires the way the company engages external designers. It’s a great way, he says, for the company to get “a fresh perspective every time.”
September 3, 2010
Designers and architects, what do you think is the most important piece of architecture built in the last 30 years? Toyo Ito’s Mediatheque in Sendai, Japan? Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain? Vanity Fair magazine asked 90 of the world’s leading architects, teachers and critics to name the five most important buildings monuments, and bridges completed since 1980, as well as the most significant structure built so far in the 21st century.
Of the 52 experts who participated in the poll, including 11 Pritzker Prize winners and the deans of eight major architecture schools, 28 voted for the Guggenheim in Bilbao, a building, which, you may or may not recall, brought Philip Johnson to tears when it was unveiled in 1998. He later called Gehry “the greatest architect we have today” and his museum “the greatest building of our time.”
“Bilbao is truly a signal moment in the architectural culture,” said the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Paul Goldberger, author of Why Architecture Matters. “The building blazed new trails…it was one of those rare moments when critics, academics, and the general public were all united about something.”
Gehry also received votes on three other projects: the Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles; Millennium Park, in Chicago, and his own house in Santa Monica.
Read more about Gehry, the Guggenheim, and other top ranked buildings in the August 2010 issue of Vanity Fair or on the magazine’s website.
Photos courtesy of Mary Ann Sulllivan.
Better World, Design
September 1, 2010
Metropolis calls it “socially-responsible design’s highest award.” Many individuals at Herman Miller would most likely agree.
The 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge is an annual international design competition that awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.
It’s a big deal. And, according to former Herman Miller President and CEO Max De Pree, so was Fuller.
For example, De Pree explains in his book Leadership Jazz the influence of his friend, Buckminster Fuller, on Charles Eames: “But the key question he asked himself consistently was ‘What would Bucky say?’” He adds, “By choosing Bucky as the ultimate judge, Charles certainly set his standards high.”
Fuller (1895-1983) was an inventor, writer, architect, visionary, engineer, and environmentalist. He also was intimately connected to the rise and development of industrial design from the 1930s through the 1970s.
He designed and manufactured his famous Dymaxion (from “dynamic + maximum + tension) car in the mid-1930s. He also collaborated with George Nelson and Eames for the Moscow exhibition in 1959, designing the geodesic dome that housed the U.S. section.
So to those who are planning to submit an entry to this year’s competition, just remember: “What would Bucky say?”
Photo 2 credit: Buckminster Fuller Institute