We design products with consideration for their environmental impact. Sometimes it’s straightforward—usually it’s not. But that doesn’t matter because we believe it’s the right thing to do. Merchants of Virtue, a new book by independent journalist and writer Bill Birchard, tells the stories of our struggles to be good stewards of the environment.
Why Herman Miller? Bill Birchard in his own words:
“The people of Herman Miller showed something even the activists could not: Sustainability in a large, established business—a company making the ‘stuff’ we all buy—is sustainable. …In good times and bad, the people at Herman Miller continue to ask new questions, test new ideas, and rethink and restructure the nature of the work to make their business more sustainable.”
In a world of corporate-funded literature, we take it as a compliment that someone of Birchard’s reputation would take it upon himself to tell our story.
Among the friends to take part in the tea cermony hosted by the Eameses were sculptor Isamu Noguchi (far left) and actor Charlie Chaplin (fifth from the left).
Charles and Ray Eames felt, “The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host, all of whose energy goes into trying to anticipate the needs of his guests.” When those needs were not met, the Eameses, as hosts, created a solution.
In 1950, Charles and Ray invited friends, including actor Charlie Chaplin and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, to their Pacific Palisades home for a bit of Japanese culture in California—a traditional tea ceremony. For each guest, the Eames created a small wire table. Just 10 inches tall, the table provided an individualized setting for each guest as they kneeled together for an ancient Japanese custom.
That tiny table is the Eames wire based table, or LTR, a design that is still anticipating needs of guests today.