When Yves Béhar says, “Design’s purpose is not only to show us the future, but to bring us the future,” he means it. Whether it’s the frameless back of the SAYL Chair, the dock-killing wireless speakers of JAMBOX, or tackling mobile commerce for Paypal, it’s clear that Béhar follows his own philosophy.
“We need contrast and tension to be able to create,” says Hecht, an industrial designer naturally drawn to the details of a project. A tendency complemented by Colin, a trained architect with an eye for big-picture connections. “If Sam gets really small on something,” she explains, “I can back out and say ‘that’s great, but is it relevant? How does it connect?’” An observation acknowledged by Hecht, who describes their design process as a series of conversations. Working together in this way, the two find balance, a fact evident in the simple elegance of their designs.
A diagram drawn by Charles Eames to explain the intersecting concerns of a design problem.
“Design,” said Charles Eames, “depends largely on constraints.” That quote came to mind listening to John Pugh’s recent presentation at PSFK Conference London. As director of digital communications for pharma firm Boehringer-Ingelheim, Pugh knows a thing or two about constraints; few industries are as regulated as pharmaceuticals.
But is Pugh whining? No. Echoing Eames, he says “restrictions force us to create.” Pharma companies do great work under strict constraints when it comes to researching and developing drugs, notes Pugh; they need to be just as creative in promoting themselves, and using social media to do so, despite regulations and a history of not doing it very well.
That attitude fits the view Eames articulated about design: “Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible; his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints.”
Steve Frykholm joined Herman Miller in 1970 as the company’s first internal graphic designer. Forty-two years later—with numerous awards and recognitions, and his designs now part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection—he’s still at it.
What’s the secret? Frykholm has found, that “it’s the breaks that allow my mind to refresh and regenerate. If I have a design problem that I haven’t quite solved, something just snaps and I might have an ah-ha.” That snap could come while he’s taking care of his horses, enjoying the ballet, or while simply gazing at the stars from his Michigan farm.
Frykholm is the first to admit the creative process isn’t easy and that not all ideas are winners, but when they are—as his iconic picnic posters illustrate—the results can make the world a nicer place to be.
Check out Steve Frykholm’s contribution to Why Design, a new video series featuring stories from Herman Miller’s creative network. There are eight videos in total, with a new one debuting every Monday. Next week is design team Sam Hecht and Kim Colin.
For Singapore-based illustrator eeshaun it was no problem. Presented with a 15-meter canvas (that’s nearly 50 feet), he set about filling it with his take on the “Workspace of the Future,” envisioned, of course, with his trademark style and sense of humor. Not wanting to have all of the fun, eeshaun encouraged onlookers to grab a pen to add their own flourish. Check out the time-lapse video to watch the piece take shape over the course of two days.
Live art by eeshaun was just one of several Herman Miller-sponsored events held at Singapore-retailer Xtra as part of Saturday in Design. November 8-10, we’ll be attending 100% Design Shanghai; visit our Asia Pacific blog for details as the event approaches.
What makes super graphics so super? Scale. “They’re not just big, but bigger than the architecture,” explains awarding-winning designer Deborah Sussman. “They don’t have to fit into prescribed spaces in the traditional way, and can have their own life.”
Perhaps a lofty goal, but Sussman has always found a way to make a statement and communicate a message. From the towering icons at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics to Disney signage (complete with mouse ears) to the “W” that greets guests to the international hotel chain, Sussman’s work fills rooms, climbs buildings, and really can have a life of its own.
Before her pioneering works in environmental graphics (as super graphics are now known), Sussman honed her skills working for two other pioneers: Charles and Ray Eames. A longtime employee of the Eames Office, Sussman worked alongside the talented couple, helping create such seminal works as Mathematica. Like the Eameses were, Sussman is filled with youthful exuberance and the ability to think big—not just in scale, but to imagine the unimagined.
For that ability, Deborah Sussman was recently inducted into the Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame, placing her among a select few honored as innovators in the field of art direction and visual communications. Congratulations.
Studio 7.5, composed of designers Burkhard Schmitz, Claudia Plikat, Carola Zwick, and engineer Roland Zwick, is a close-knit group. So it’s no surprise to hear them describe design as a team sport.
Close collaboration has been the studio’s hallmark since it began more than 20 years ago in the back of a 7.5 ton truck where the members made their first office. While the truck didn’t last, their teamwork (and the number) did. Today, the members of Studio 7.5 work as one, anticipating each other’s thoughts and tackling complex problems with creative thinking—evident in designs like the Setu’s flexible spine, which uses material innovation to eliminate the complexity of adjusting an office chair.
“In our world today the answers are complex, and it’s hard for just one person to answer all that complexity,” says Plikat—an observation surely supported by her teammates.
Check out Studio 7.5’s contribution to Why Design, a new video series featuring stories from Herman Miller’s creative network. There are eight videos in total, with a new one debuting every Monday. Next week is graphic designer Steve Frykholm.
“Design addresses itself to the need,” as Charles Eames used to say. Sometimes the need was for furniture well-suited for modern living. At other times it was for a film, a toy, or an educational exhibit. Another need, sometimes overshadowed by other projects, was for graphic design—a task the Eames Office, with Charles and his wife Ray at its helm, approached with the same thoughtfulness and diligence it gave all pursuits.
Inspired by Charles and paying homage to the rigorous process that produced many iconic designs, the PM Gallery of London entitled its new exhibit on graphic works of the Eames Office Address the Need. On display alongside well-known pieces, such as the Giant House of Cards and Powers of Ten film, are brochures, posters, and other rarely seen items. It should be a visual treat.
If you’re in the area, check it out. Address the Need will be open to the public until November 3, 2012. For more information on the exhibit, click here.
For designer Gianfranco Zaccai, the parallels between food and design run deep. But foremost, he recognizes that, “A great meal is not just great food, but is great companionship. A great piece of design is something that allows people to be together.”
Zaccai’s desire to bring people together is well suited for healthcare, where patients, family members, caregivers, and support staff often share space. This close proximity demands a careful balance of needs—a fact not lost on Zaccai when he developed Compass, a healthcare furniture system for patient rooms, exam rooms, and other clinical spaces. Wanting to design a better experience for everyone, Zaccai and Herman Miller researchers spent a lot of time talking with people—more than 550, actually. With each person helping to ensure that Compass got the balance just right.
The resulting design has won multiple awards. And it demonstrates that good design, like good food, can bring people together.
Check out Gianfranco Zaccai’s contribution to Why Design, a new video series featuring stories from Herman Miller’s creative network. There are eight videos in total, with a new one debuting every Monday. Next week is Studio 7.5.
A Ray Eames biography would be better expressed through pictures—with the soft, delicate arcs of charcoal from her early sketches, and the bold blocks of yellow, blue, and red of her paintings.
Throughout her life, Ray used pictures, and later, objects, as a means of communication and expression. A study of correspondence between Charles and Ray hints at their reliance on a transcendent, pictographic language. It was as if their ideas were too brilliant and beautiful to capture in the strict confines of a word or phrase, so pictures became their favored form of ideation.
It’s clear that color was the defining parlance of Ray’s unique visual language. Influenced by her study with Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann, Ray’s love of bold, primary color is evident in every facet of her life and work—the exterior panels of the Pacific Palisades home she shared with Charles, her Arts and Architecture magazine covers, and her dress designs and textile patterns.
Ray’s visual language colored her design partnerships with Charles; her aesthetic imprint is unmistakable on collaborations like the Eames Wire Base Low Table. It’s now being offered for a limited time in a Select Edition, in three Ray-inspired colors—cobalt blue, red-orange, and yellow-gold.