September 29, 2011
Art is in the air—quite literally some hanging off buildings—as ArtPrize takes over downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. For over two weeks, 1,713 artists from around the world transform the city into a giant gallery. Art is all the buzz amongst the residents and the some 250,000 visitors.
Unique to ArtPrize, voting is left entirely up to the public. Week 1 allows unlimited voting to determine the top ten artists. Week 2 gives everyone a single vote to narrow the ten to a winner awarded the $250,000 top prize.
If you’re in the area enjoying ArtPrize, stop by the HUB, a Herman Miller lounge for artists, volunteers, and the public to relax, put up their feet, and continue discussing the art they’ve seen.
And while you’re there, be sure to check out ArtFile, a collaborative project between Herman Miller and students in the UICA ArtWorks youth program.
September 28, 2011
According to architect and designer Stefano Giovannoni, the most important influence of his life was attending the University of Florence during the late 1970s. “That was where the concept of ‘radical architecture’ was born, which created a whole new language and way of expression in Italian design,” he says. It was a movement that threw out all the rules, resulting in a new vision.
This vision, combined with ingenuity, has helped Giovannoni design some of the most commercially successful products in the world, including the successful Girotondo and Mami lines of household products for Alessi.
Giovannoni’s work for Magis, such as the Bombo Stool, Paso Doble Family, and Chair First exemplify his innovative use of materials and original thinking. Chair First, for example, was the first three-dimensional plastic chair created through gas injected air molding. While the Bombo Stool was so futuristic it appeared in the TV series “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Giovannoni’s Bombo Stool was so futuristic set designers chose it for the TV series “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” Down on earth, his work can also be seen in major museums throughout the world.
Better World, Design, What's Up
September 27, 2011
“We will be a good steward of the environment,” was the promise made by Herman Miller founder, D.J. De Pree, in 1953. Living up to this sometimes means investing time and money into solving a problem that doesn’t occur until a product is at the end of its life-cycle.
Celle, for example, was put together with taking it apart in mind. With five minutes—and a screwdriver—Celle can be disassembled into recyclable components. Following our own Design for the Environment protocols made that work. And it made an impression: Celle has earned MBDC Cradle-to-Cradle Gold certification.
Visit us at the Greenbuild 2011 in Toronto, October 4-6.
Design, What's Up
September 26, 2011
It’s one thing to talk about solving problems; it’s another to make it a tenet of good design. That’s what we strive to do, and Fast Company recently placed us on its list of Thirty Companies That Get It for creating, “furniture that inspires—and solves problems.”
Charles Eames once said, “The extent to which you have a design style is the extent to which you have not solved the problem.” George Nelson was a problem solver, as was Robert Propst and as are Ayse Birsel and Studio 7.5. In fact, solving problems with good design is a prerequisite for Herman Miller.
Consider Aeron, designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick. Radical when it launched, its transparent style has inspired numerous copies. But foam and fabric wasn’t replaced with Pellicle because it looked good. Research showed that the suspension material allowed air to reach the body, preventing heat and moisture from building up—keeping the sitter comfortable much longer.
Solving a problem in an original way provided Aeron its distinctive look as well.
Design, What's Up
September 22, 2011
Dared to create art on art, local Austin artists and designers turned the smooth, white surface of an Eames molded plastic chair into the medium for their expression. Some turned to Mondrian for inspiration and others to a hammer and nails. The Good Design Challenge was held in conjunction with a recent Herman Miller exhibit at the Austin Museum of Art.
This isn’t the first time an Eames chair has become a canvas.
Design, What's Up
September 21, 2011
One of today’s most influential industrial designers, Jasper Morrison is known for his minimalist approach. Throughout his prolific career, he has strived to create simple but functional beauty in everyday objects, from door handles to trays to wristwatches to chairs. He was a pioneer in using gas-injection technology for furniture; the Air Chair he designed for Magis was one of the very first times it had ever been used for that purpose.
“It represented a big shift in the quality of the one-piece plastic chair,” he says. “Previously, plastic chairs were only possible with single wall thicknesses and reinforcing ribs. The gas-injection technology allowed for continuously smooth surfaces.”
Morrison has been featured in many magazines, and he has published several books on the subject of design. His work has been shown in many international museums, and his retail shop in London carries hundreds of well-designed household items from around the world.
September 20, 2011
Herman Miller designs a lot of furniture on campus. Seeing what students carry around helps us do it better. So, recently we asked them to send us pictures of the contents of their backpacks.
Backpacks have built-in limitations, which makes you stop and think about what you need to carry around. And, for each of us, the definition of “need” is as individual as our fingerprints. Oh, there were certainly the expected items: pens, books, cell phones, laptops. But there were also some surprises: deodorant, changes of clothes, and toothpaste. Hmmm.
Anyway, filling a backpack certainly involves making decisions. Which reminded us of ideas that designer Ayse Birsel advocates—you can design the life you love and doing so involves good decision-making. For Birsel, good design means good decisions. For us, seeing the decisions students make when it comes to filling their backpacks is fodder for making good design decisions.
September 19, 2011
You know the old saying that two heads are better than one.. But it may be that only two heads are better for collaborating. Recently, we conducted research at our Design Yard facility, which was recently equipped with our Canvas furniture. Fully 68 percent of collaborative events were between two people versus larger groups.
Findings like that raise another question: How are people really using places at the office? Getting a clear, accurate picture of usage is essential to intelligently remixing available square footage. A better mix of settings can include microenvironments that enable these ad hoc gatherings.
Places that promote a few people “swarming” around a problem-solving challenge can accelerate the creation of new knowledge. And this sort of knowledge remains a key concern for organizations. A recent survey of the London Business School’s Future of Work Consortium found that “deep collaborative working” was rated a top factor in ongoing effectiveness. In a word, let’s get together—but not too many of us—and work it out.
Design, Research, Well-Being
September 15, 2011
A “new” trend is emerging among workers in Silicon Valley: the standing desk. We know sitting all day is not ideal for the human body. The low physical workload and rearward rotated pelvis puts you at risk for back pain. Not to mention, excessive sitting slows your metabolism and can even negatively affect cholesterol levels.
But the truth is, standing all day isn’t any better. In fact, the high workload placed on the body while standing is equally as harmful as the inactivity in sitting.
What the body wants is movement. Alternating from sitting to standing several times throughout the day reduces the chance of back pain and improves circulation. Both are essential to productivity.
The standing desk is far from a new concept. In the 1960s, designer George Nelson developed the first stand-up, roll-top desk for the Action Office line. We continue to encourage movement in all our furniture. Everywhere and Envelop tables enable multiple height-adjustments. Paired with a work chair, you can sit, stand, and move, all of which will help you feel better and work better.
September 14, 2011
The work of Konstantin Grcic is known for its logical thought process, honesty of materials, and respect for production methods. His partnership with Magis led to one of the most interesting and inventive chairs ever created: Chair_One. “This was a wonderful project to work on,” says Grcic, admitting that his relative youth (and naïveté) led him down unexplored pathways with eyes wide open.
“This was possibly the first time ever that such a large die-cast was used for making a chair,” he explains. “It involved a lot of heavy tooling. I decided to break up surfaces into thin sections like branches and let the material flow through the mold to create the shape, which is kind of like a basket or a grid, and very three-dimensional.”
Chair_One now resides in the permanent collections of many prestigious museums including MoMA in New York and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. It joins other Grcic pieces in museum permanent collection, including his Mayday Lamp, produced for Flos in 1999.