“My chairs are always pared down to the minimum—no tricks, nothing clever… I have no interest in making chairs look like baseball gloves or hands….” Pointed questions such as, “Does it allow the user to find his or her own perfect pitch?” and “Is it easy and safe to get in and out? “ are among those behind Ward Bennett’s trademark minimalism. His attention to key factors of comfort and functionality are the backbone— pun intended—behind his minimalist style that consistently answered those ergonomic questions.
Designer Bill Stumpf once said, “I work best when I’m pushed to the edge.” He got that push collaborating with other designers: Don Chadwick on the revolutionary Aeron chair and Jeff Weber on the health-positive Embody chair. And he certainly was pushed in his work with Herman Miller, a company he noted, that “still believes that good design isn’t just good business, it’s a moral obligation.”
Stumpf began studying how people do—and should—sit back in 1974 at the University of Wisconsin. He worked with specialists in orthopedic and vascular medicine. And he helped translate that research into chairs that people know are comfortable the instant they sit in them. Read more
The Mad Men offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce drip with modern cool. The glass walls, sleek sofas, and leather chairs are exactly what you would expect of a successful New York ad agency in the 1960s.
For fans of the show with an eye for design, classic furniture abounds; but for Don Draper, the digs of his new Time & Life office were anything but classic. Draper and his partners were simply surrounding themselves with items that reflected—or might spur—the creativity of their work. Years later, the consensus is that some of these designs are classics, and not simply because they’ve endured over the decades.
So what makes a classic? A blend of beauty, utility, and a certain sense of inevitability, as though the object is somehow exactly as it is to be? And if Mad Men were set today, what classics might we see in the offices of a modern-day Don Draper?
Serendipitous timing and a keen eye for structure and functionality allowed Ward Bennett a career that affected nearly every discipline of design. Leaving formal education behind at a mere 13- years old, Bennett started in fashion, where he sold sketches of his bridal designs. Chance encounters opened many doors: A conversation with a Bloomingdales executive, for example, resulted in Bennett designing tableware and flatware for the Japanese company Sasaki. And a small apartment renovation connected Bennett with one of his most iconic interior design projects, the headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank.
A rare synergy occurred in 1953 in the small town of Columbus, Indiana. Three leaders of the international Modernist movement—architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Girard and landscape architect Dan Kiley—joined to create the Miller House and Garden. Commissioned by J. Irwin Miller, and completed in 1957, the Miller House is one of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist homes.
Girard, who joined Herman Miller in 1950 as director of upholstery and the newly created textile division, furnished the Miller House with pieces from the Herman Miller Collection together with his custom textiles and carpets. The residence is also a sublime example of Alexander Girard’s mastery of the artful collage—combining furniture, fabrics, accessories, and art to create unified and joyful environments.
Presented with an Eames molded plastic chair, 30 San Antonio based designers and architects transformed the modern icon into a canvas for art.
Employing a range of media, from paint to plywood, the final creations were auctioned off at a Good Design challenge sponsored by the local IIDA and Herman Miller. All of proceeds, more than $9,000, went to Say Si, a San Antonio non-profit providing students an opportunity to develop artistic and social skills in preparation for higher educational advancements.
Appropriately named 360, designer Stephan Copeland’s new desk lamp for Luxo uses clever rotation to eliminate material and mechanisms.
What was the concept behind the design of 360?
The idea was to do more with less. A typical desk lamp has a two-piece arm with three joints. The design of 360 combines a single arm with just two joints. The head and base rotate, which allows for a full range of motion.
What does this mean for someone using the lamp?
It means they can put the right amount of light right where they need it; 360 allows that in a simple, smooth motion, without compromising ergonomics.
Were there any technical challenges?
I don’t believe an object that sits in such close proximity to person, like a desk lamp, should demand undue attention. With this in mind, we worked hard to hide all of the mechanics, electrical fasteners inside the arm of 360—this was a challenge. The result is a smooth design that I hope people find very inviting.
Formed over a millennium under heat and pressure, stone reflects the particular characteristics of its origin. A fact kept in mind when we selected stone tops for the new Nelson and Eames outdoor tables.
Wanting stone with unique character, we found four we liked from quarries across North American: Georgia White Marble, a white stone with accents of warm beige and grey veins; Georgia Grey Marble, a cloudy grey stone with strong veins of light and dark grey, and reflective crystals; Wisconsin Black Marble, a dark stone speckled with lustrous green and grey veins; and Quebec Graphite Granite, a subtly patterned granite composed of deep grey hues.
Each is a natural complement to the design it sits atop, and durable enough to stand up to all types of weather.
The exhibit showcases 43 chairs designed between the 1800s and 2000s. Each was chosen for it beauty and historical context with important social, economic, political and cultural influences. Together, they tell a story of American history, from humble beginnings to industrialized nation.
On display is the molded plywood lounge chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1946. Shaping plies of veneer to the contours of the human body, Charles and Ray created a chair important to American design and Herman Miller as well—beginning us on a path to advance the art and science of seating.
Check out the molded plywood lounge chair, among others, at the Westmoreland museum in Greensburg, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Art of Seating ends April 12, 2012. The next stop on its national tour will be the Columbia Museum of Art, in Columbia, South Carolina.
Faced with answering this question, Anna Hernandez of Luna Textiles found inspiration in the, “shapes and forms of contemporary architecture.” The resulting patterns—Connection, Current, and Circuit—form a new fabric collection developed exclusively for Herman Miller.
“Inspiration is subtle,” says Hernandez, “it may express itself in small ways. Some especially evident to architects and designers in the profession.” Connection for instance, while a geometric pattern, forgoes 90-degree angles. “Modern architects who design buildings without straight lines will recognize these forms.”
Grass cloth, a popular textural material of mid-century interiors, inspired the tiny gird pattern of Current. “It’s not symmetrical,” explains Hernandez, “it’s a little off, giving the pattern a more natural look with a mid-century feeling,” while Circuit pays homage to round, organic forms common to the 1950s.
Drawing on her inspirations, Hernandez aspired to a timeless collection, “that responds to the moment, but without being specific to a brief period of time.”