Maybe you prefer jazz while on the job, or to waltz while at work. Alliterations aside, if you’re not listening to music in the office, you may be missing out.
“Music breaks you out of just one way of thinking,” explains Dr. Lesiuk of the University of Miami in a recent New York Times article. Music does this by improving our mood, which reduces stress and encourages creative thinking. A study conducted by Dr. Lesiuk even suggested that music can benefit productivity, as long as a person is not a novice to the task at hand.
So which type of music is best? Dr. Sood of the Mayo Clinic recommends music without lyrics. But most importantly, it should be something you enjoy. So if the song stylings of Weird Al bring a smile to your face, then that’s all that matters—just be sure to invest in a good pair of headphones to be kind to those around you.
What do we listen to while at work? Visit Herman Miller’s Lifework Blog for a weekly playlist from our creative network.
Charles Eames once observed, “One of something may be beautiful. But can you stand to see 100 in a row?” That was the challenge facing designer Dan Grabowski when Herman Miller approached him to create a table fit for meeting rooms and classrooms alike. Grabowski’s response was Everywhere Tables—an expansive range of tables based on a kit of parts, with a simple, beautiful sculpted table leg at its heart.
The table leg is an important part of Everywhere Tables; how did you approach its design?
I thought of the legs as a sculpture, shaping them until they had the right sense of mass and scale—which was difficult because the legs need to accommodate such a wide range of table shapes and sizes. It was always a balance between the outer form and the technical requirements of the inside of the leg.
I often see table legs that scream for attention, which can create visual chaos in a large room. I wanted to avoid that, so I designed the Everywhere legs to work with a simple rhythm of light and shadow in mind. When you see a room full of Everywhere Tables it feels nice and clean; the spacing between legs is very precisely defined.
Was there a process you followed when developing Everywhere?
I always begin a design by sketching out ideas, sometimes very roughly. In the case of Everywhere Tables, I quickly moved into 3D modeling. To get a sense of the mass and scale of the leg, I built physical models with foam legs attached to tops made of thick foam core. This allowed everyone to get a sense of scale. As the design progressed, I continued designing in 3D and worked closely with Herman Miller on the engineering.
Were there any technical challenges to overcome?
Sure, there are two points where the leg transitions from an extrusion into a cast part: once at the tabletop and again at the foot. These are both critical connection points that bear a lot of weight and torque. The engineers at Herman Miller developed a slick little connector that met the challenge and let the Everywhere leg maintain its slim, clean aesthetic.
How did you know when the design was finished?
[Laughing] Are designs ever really finished? I look at them as works in progress, particularly furniture. The more you live with a design, the more you learn. I just had the opportunity to revisit Everywhere Tables to design some new table shapes.
Everywhere Tables are now available at the HermanMiller Store alongside a full range of work tools for offices and homes alike. If you’re a small business visiting the store, contact us about setting up a business account, which will give you special access and perks.
George Nelson was passionate about design and when he joined Herman Miller he quickly set about transforming us from a small manufacturer of residential furniture into a company driven by design. In his introduction to the 1948 Herman Miller catalog, Nelson articulated a set of principles that continue to guide us today: what we make is important; design is integral; the product must be honest; we decide what we make; a market for good design exists.
In 1984, George Nelson sat down and reflected on his time at Herman Miller. The resulting essay is insightful, honest, and full of stories told with keen recollection. We decided to share the essay with FastCompany, which began publishing it as a series beginning this week. Check it out and let us know what you think.
What are a few of the challenges unique to designing spaces for healthcare?
In healthcare, there are complicated buildings that require a very solution-based outcome—not just for the building, but for the patients and staff. How do you create a building that comforts patients, creates a meaningful work environment for staff and is extremely functional? How do you take something as mundane as an MRI room and create a space that is conducive to keeping patients calm during an otherwise unnerving procedure?
How do you work with a client to help them stay true to their vision?
The design and construction process can take years, so it starts with the design team and owner collaborating to establish the big vision and always looking back at that big idea to make sure they are achieving it. Everyone needs to have buy-in from the beginning to achieve the vision. Read more
George Nelson, designer and Design Director for Herman Miller from 1946 to 1972, has written that “every design in some sense is a social communication.” So what is design saying? Nelson spent a good deal of his life answering that question, along the way skewering those “social communications” that weren’t worth listening to. Read more
You may not know his name, but you’ve likely seen Kam Tang’s art grace the album covers of The Chemical Brother and Gnarls Barkley, or in ads for Burberry and Adidas. His work is typified by meticulous attention to detail and constant reinvention. Invited by Herman Miller to create a poster for Then X Ten, Tang choose the Aeron chair—the work chair of choice in his home studio.
Can you share with us some early ideas of what you will be working on to create your poster for Herman Miller?
I’ll be creating a poster for the Aeron chair. I use one myself and love it on many levels. At the moment I’m exploring which facet to communicate.
What are some of your tools of the trade?
My brain, pen and paper, graphic design software like Illustrator and Photoshop, and a camera.
Describe a typical day at the office?
Morning cup of coffee, check some emails and news feeds, then start working.
Do you have any rituals before beginning an illustration?
No rituals, I just read the brief and starting with a pen and paper.
Has technology influenced your work?
It has taken a lot of the mundane and time-consuming aspects out of the process, but not without the dangers of removing the human touch.
Do you feel like a citizen of the world in terms of your trade, or are there geographic anchors to your work as an illustrator?
Yes, with the internet every person, act or event is on the global stage. Geographically, I can pretty much work anywhere with my laptop, but you can’t beat being at home!
His design for Spun—a chair shaped like a spinning top that tilts and turns with the sitter’s movement—is emblematic of the fanciful yet functional designs in London-based architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick’s portfolio: the Olympic Cauldron at the 2012 London games, a double decker bus, also for London, and Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan Hotel.
When asked to design a structure for the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, Heatherwick created the Seed Cathedral—sixty thousand fiber-optic “hairs” protruding from a circular steel and timber composite structure. While some consider the structure—which looks like a giant, glowing hedgehog—simply another example of Heatherwick’s whimsical approach to design, the artist is quick to point out that the piece is actually quite serious.
“Is my studio’s work playful or is everyone else’s work too serious?” says Heatherwick in an interview with Architectural Digest. “And actually, Seed Cathedral was serious. With 60,000 varieties of seeds, it was the most biodiverse thing in Shanghai, or the whole region.”
Considering Heatherwick’s belief that good design strikes a balance between gravity and levity, it’s little wonder that Spun challenges the traditional notion of a chair and turns sitting into an experience.
Where can you get your daily fix of all three? Pinterest, of course.
Online content sharing sites like Pinterest help you sift through infinite online content to find images and messages that surprise and delight. Using Pinterest, we can all be curators of our own little digital museums, where we can organize and share beautiful, interesting, funny, and helpful images found during our travels online.
Pinterest is a great way to find meaning and inspiration in the dizzying barrage of information that’s just a touch or click away. We also think it’s a great place to view images of mid-century modern furniture, as well as cool ideas for offices at home and in the workplace.