May 16, 2011
We think good design requires good research. On campus, that means talking—and listening—to everyone, especially students. Our goal is to capture the voice of the students, to understand how and why they use a specific type of space on campus.
To hear their voices, we recently sponsored our second annual student video contest. We asked them to show us their “hubs,” those places where they go to connect, recharge, study, and socialize.
Congratulations to first, second, and third place winners Fiona Green, Keaton Davis, and Jesse Hendrickson. Their videos, along with all the submissions, uncovered some common themes. Hubs can be found anywhere on campus. Wherever the hub, students want the physical surrounding of their hubs to be comfortable. That includes comfortable furniture as well as acoustical comfort. Hubs were physical places in all their examples except for one.
This contest provided an engaging way for us to capture student insights. Their views are sure to help campus leadership and facility planners think about the changing needs of students and how higher education facilities can respond to them.
May 11, 2011
The Miller House opened its doors to the public for the first time yesterday, and Cerentha Harris, of Lifework fame, and I were among the first to set foot inside. The tour was a great opportunity to experience a rare synergy between three masters: Eero Saarinen, architecture; Alexander Girard, interior design; and Daniel Kiley, landscape design.
Guided by Girard’s careful eye, the interiors showcase some of the best in mid-century modern design, including many Herman Miller classics, as well as pieces created exclusively for the Miller family. From Xenia Miller’s collections on display to the personalized dining chair cushions, the interiors also wonderfully reflect the personality of family that called the house “home” for so many years.
Whether your interest is design or architecture, or you just appreciate cool things, a visit to the Miller House is a worthwhile trip.
Also, be sure to checkout Cerentha’s post on Lifework.
May 10, 2011
This week in the official opening of the Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana. The Miller House history is intrinsically tied to Herman Miller. The home was commissioned by J. Irwin Miller, a wealthy industrialist, and his wife Xenia Simons Miller in 1953. Miller and his wife hired Eero Saarinen to design the house, Alexander Girard to work on the interiors and Dan Kiley to take care of the landscape architecture. Girard’s fabrics for Herman Miller feature heavily throughout the home. And it was Girard that got the Eameses involved. He saw the need for outdoor furniture and called on his friends Ray and Charles to design chairs for the verandah. A year later the Aluminum Group lounge chair was in production at Herman Miller.
Tours of the Miller House and Garden are open to the public.
Photoes courtesy of the Indianapolis Musem of Art
May 9, 2011
Learning in higher education is becoming less a practice in memorization and regurgitation, and more an active, collaborative, and social process. As a result, a new way of viewing university and college campuses is emerging.
Driven by technology and social networks, the current generation of learners is creating an academic experience that is different than even a few years ago. “Circles of exchange” begins to explain this trend. Campuses are increasingly becoming large networks made up of individual student networks. As students connect with one another, the flow and diversity of information is strengthened, more ideas are shared, more knowledge is developed, and the potential for innovation increases.
The physical environment has a role in this. A thoughtfully designed learning space can be place for students to gather, collaborate, socialize, and exchange ideas. The creation of these spaces requires a better understanding of how and why people learn, the effect of ever greater sources of information, opportunities to customize learning experiences, and anticipation and accommodation of technological change. When understanding about these elements is brought to the design process, the campus will better support the needs of students.
Photo: Lure/Forest by Beili Liu
Design, Healthcare, Innovation
May 6, 2011
“Companies prosper when they tap into a power that every one of us already has – the ability to reach outside of ourselves and connect with other people, to walk in someone else’s shoes.” That’s Dev Patnaik, author of Wired to Care , speaking. He believes empathy is key to innovation. And everyone from marketing to R&D benefits from a better understanding of their customers and end users.
We agree. Empathy plays an important role in Herman Miller research, design, and development of new products, particularly in healthcare. We gain empathy by engaging with nurses and other caregivers in multiple ways. Facility tours, focus groups, gaming sessions, and job shadowing help us develop insight into the work of caregivers, to really understand what they do, what their work day is like. We then do our best to share those experiences with product development teams through reports, hallway conversations, and workshops.
We believe products like Compass express the empathy we have with caregivers, patients, families, and administrators.
May 2, 2011
Steve Frykholm poses with his students in Aba, Nigeria, 1966.
“Do what I did and join the Peace Corps,” was Steve Frykholm’s answer when asked what advice he had for students. “It was a great experience,” he continued, “I have been working for 41 years. What was two years out of my life? I learned a lot. It helped my self-esteem. It helped my confidence. It also taught me screen-printing. If I hadn’t been in the Peace Corps would I have done [the picnic] posters?”
Wow, Steve Frykholm, whose work is highly regarded and on display in MOMA, may have never learned the skill that made him famous if he had not lived in Africa. What is two years? For Steve, it focused his interest and started his career.
I had a similar experience, having spent a long time living in Japan, and would agree with Steve. The experience I gained was invaluable and really helped me to better understand who I am–I am a much better person for that.
Steve’s advice was great. Really, what is two years in the whole scheme of things? I wish more students would challenge themselves to experience something different. Sometimes you have to leave everything you know to discover who you are.