December 27, 2011
I recently had the good fortune to visit the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California. As a young designer influenced by the Eameses, the visit left me with a new perspective. While Charles and Ray were legendary designers, they were also husband and wife, grandparents, and friends, who spent years turning the house into a comforting, familiar place. It is the Eames home more than it is the Eames House.
While the home has been preserved, nothing has been restored. It is just as Charles and Ray intended. It feels warm, inviting and has the patina of use: the paint is chipped, the dinner bell is rusty, and the leather on the lounge chair and ottoman is cracked from sitting. Their collections are on display everywhere. It couldn’t feel more different than the sleek, museum-like interiors that we see their furniture featured in today.
Throughout, there are examples of Eames design–but not the ones you and I know. A patio table built from the base of their famous ottoman sits outside, probably a little rustier than when they used it; a walnut stool became a Lazy Susan holding a TV; and a plant is perched on top of an extra, extra tall modified table base. They simply used what they had to make what they needed.
Outside, old trucks and other toys litter the yard and in the corner are remains of a wooden fort built for the grandchildren.
Visiting the home of Charles and Ray Eames and glimpsing into their life together transformed two design icons into people, who, in many ways, were just like you and me.
April 8, 2011
What better way to explore the question of collaboration than by collaborating? I recently participated in a Design Storm with 20 students from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, as they tackled this real-world issue over a period of two and half days.
For Herman Miller, this was an opportunity to ask the next generation of designers about the workplace, about collaboration, and about how they envision the two melding in the future.
Brainstorming, discussion, sketching, and critique; round after round, the students worked through their ideas toward a final concept. The atmosphere was awesome. The results were even better, ranging from the intangible “office as a second skin” and “implicit boundaries” to the tangible “mobile work pods.”
The experience left us wishing we could replicate that spark back at the office. We value our partnerships with universities and colleges of all kinds; they provide us a fresh perspective, all while connecting with future innovators. Who better to create the future with?
May 7, 2010
Here at Herman Miller, we’ve been studying the needs of healthcare professionals for over 40 years. It is our goal to create products that can reduce some of the stress and burdens that these professionals, such as nurses, face on a daily basis.
In addition to the healthcare research I do at Herman Miller, I’m familiar with these issues outside of work because my wife, Lindsay, has been a nurse for four years. Since we’re in the midst of National Nurses Week (May 6 through 12), I would like to share some insights about life in the nursing profession.
Nursing is often a thankless job that requires massive amounts of dedication, commitment, patience, and skill. While I work a standard Monday through Friday 8-5 job, my wife works any day of the week (including weekends), 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. I get major holidays off; she gets two of the four major holidays off, and it changes every year. I sit in front of a computer most of the day; she stands, walks, lifts, tucks, charts, cleans, dispenses meds, and starts IVs. And that’s not all. Besides these demanding physical tasks, nurses tackle the emotional challenges of dealing with sick patients and their families. They need to display quick and critical thinking from their library of knowledge to make life-saving decisions for their patients. They deal with the complexities of relationships and collaborate with multiple members of an interdisciplinary healthcare team. Ultimately, they focus on helping people heal.
At Herman Miller, we aim to alleviate their burden and simplify nurses’ tasks by providing them with easy access to supplies and ergonomic solutions in the healthcare environment. That allows nurses to direct 100% of their focus on the patient rather than dealing with insufficient equipment and processes.
This year’s theme for National Nurses Week is “Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow.” Thanks to my wife and all the nurses—retired and practicing—I can look forward to a healthier tomorrow.
Design, Herman Miller Journal
February 19, 2010
For the past four years, Herman Miller has been a sponsor of a program called InnovationSpace at Arizona State University. Begun in 2005, the program’s goal is to form transdisciplinary teams of students from industrial design, engineering, visual communication design, and business who systematically work through a matrix of four questions:
1. What is valuable to users?
2. What is possible through engineering?
3. What is desirable to business?
4. What is good for society and the environment?
They aim to create products that: satisfy user needs and desires; apply innovative but proven engineering standards; create measurable value for business; and benefit society while minimizing impacts on the environment.
“The InnovationSpace curriculum is built on the premise that a traditional discipline-specific education no longer provides enough expertise or variation in thinking to handle the complex challenges of new product development,” says Prasad Boradkar, Director of Innovation Space.
Herman Miller’s InnovationSpace teams are assigned to Doug Bazuin, senior healthcare researcher. Although they specifically focus on healthcare, the students can choose any area within the spectrum of care.
A two-semester program, it begins with a research phase. In the ideation phase, the teams develop three ideas, from which they choose one to pursue, following through with the development phase, engineering, marketing/branding, and business implications.
“The ideas and enthusiasm from the students really bring a lot of energy and are extremely refreshing,” says Doug Bazuin. “Besides providing real world experience and advice, this program helps prepare future employees and educate future end users.”
October 9, 2009
Grand Rapids, Michigan has been a-buzz the last couple of weeks as ArtPrize—an open art competition—has taken over the city.