Fueled by beef jerky and chocolate milk, David Foster is an industrial designer who dabbles in a little of everything; research to writing, visual to textual, it’s all interesting—it’s all fun.
Advancements come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big ideas, like the suspension material of the Aeron Chair that replaced the foam and fabric typical to so many office chairs. Others are smaller advancements, resulting in an improved process, or, in this case, a better way to build a chair.
A recent advancement on our SAYL Chair assembly line is saving time, money, and nearly 25,000 pounds of packaging materials a year. How? By developing reusable packaging, we’ve eliminated handling steps and material waste. Previously, the Y-Towers of the SAYL Chair were bundled, boxed, wrapped, and shipped to the facility with the assembly line. Upon arrival, the towers were unboxed, placed on a cart, and moved to the line. Now the Y-Towers simply arrive ready for assembly.
It’s part of our culture to look for advancements, whether they’re the Aeron Chair or a new way to package parts.
Asked how to measure a designer’s impact on society, Bruce Burdick, a designer himself, replied: “A designer’s influence on public opinion comes down to how the public utilizes their designs. They influence people’s perceptions of what a car, a desk, your clothing, or your house can be.” To this he added, “It’s the highest order of design to squeeze function and pleasure together so tightly that a person cannot separate them.”
Burdick established his reputation by pioneering the use of computers in exhibition design. Two of his exhibits, one on nutrition and the other on economics, are on permanent display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
For Herman Miller, Burdick challenged the very notion of what people thought office furniture could be. By designing a flexible system based on a central rail, Burdick allowed various elements—display, storage, work surfaces, and ergonomic tools—to be arranged and rearranged, creating infinite configurations and responding to individual ways of working. Named the Burdick Group, the system was ahead of its time and earned Burdick recognition from the Institute of Business Designers, the Industrial Designers Society of America, and Time magazine.
Today, the Burdick Group Dining Table is part of the Herman Miller Collection.
“If your goal is to build a better stool, where do you start?” That was the question designer Carol Catalano asked herself. It was when she looked down and noticed her own entwined fingers that she found the answer.
Once inspiration had struck, Catalano quickly landed on the design the of the Cappelli Stool. Using two identical laminated wood pieces with interlocking “fingers,” Catalano found she could create a stable seat. No fasteners required.
“From the beginning,” Catalano says, “the form of the stool was a simple curve that we kept refining until it was comfortable and beautiful.”
Catalano’s ingenuity paid off, earning her silver prize at the International Furniture Design Competition in Asahikawa, Japan. Hers was one of only eight awards given, and was the only American design selected from more than 700 entries worldwide.
Fifty years ago, Alexander Girard, the head of Herman Miller’s Textile Division from 1952 to 1973, introduced this playful design and called it “January.” Girard’s distinctive combination of color, originality, and spirit came from his love of folk art, his world travels, and his delightfully curious personality.
Here’s hoping the optimism of Girard’s design inspires you in this new year. Click here to download one of six free desktop wallpapers featuring “January” for your computer, mobile, or tablet device.
Designer Yves Bèhar isn’t kidding when he says, “Every molecule in the SAYL chair had to work harder.” To achieve Bèhar’s vision of an eco-dematerialized design, every piece of SAYL was examined, sculpted, and hollowed out to use the least amount of material without compromising strength. Was it successful? Well, SAYL survived having a 300-pound sack dropped on it—multiple times.
The Herman Miller Test Lab, where SAYL was put through its paces, is infamous among our designers. Some have even dubbed it “the place where designs go to die.” Weights, pulleys, and pistons test every design to the brink of failure—and beyond—to ensure they meet the requirements of our standard 12-year warranty.
Engineers weren’t sure SAYL would make it. It did, thanks to some hard work making every piece work harder.
Check out Eye Delight-2011 for more interesting images.
Suffering from a sore neck while you work? Or stiff shoulders? Or having some back pain? There’s a good chance your eyes are to blame. Much like the old gambling adage, “the house always wins,” when it comes to being comfortable while working, ergonomists will tell you, “the eyes always wins.”
The eyes only care about their own comfort and to ensure that, they’ll force the rest of the body to contort into unhealthy positions. You’ll really notice this after a few hours in front of the computer.
One way to create a win-win situation for both your eyes and your body is to move your monitor. Try bringing it closer, moving it away, and adjusting it up or down—of course a monitor arm makes this easier to do. We also recommend increasing the size of the on-screen font. Make your eyes comfortable and your body will thank you.