For nearly 20 years, the Bouroullec bothers, Ronan and Erwan, have been partners in design. Working side by side, the two siblings have developed a close relationship that influences their approach to design. “We discuss everything openly and honestly with each other,” explains Erwan, “that’s important because often creativity does not come from a rational point of view but an emotional one.” Designs that balance problem solving with innovation and production process—the Steelwood Chair being a good example—are typical of the brothers’ work and proof that their approach works well.
An exhibition of Bouroullec designs is currently at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The show is entitled Bivouac—a word meaning a lightweight shelter that can be adapted to its environment—an apt metaphor for a traveling exhibition which immerses people in all aspects of the brothers’ designs, including sketches, prototypes, and objects large and small.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac will be showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago until January 20, 2013. Learn more here.
In a big world, sometimes it’s the little things that stand out. A Mini Cooper zipping through traffic or a little iPad that fits in your pocket, some designs owe much to their diminutive size. The Eames Wire Base Low Table—LTR for short—is one such piece.
On it’s own or arranged in a row, dark tops beside light tops, veneer next to laminate—there’s no right or wrong way to use the LTR. Charles Eames demonstrated the fact in this photo shoot on the patio of the Eames House. So, if you’re in need of a place to serve hors d’oeuvres or a low stool or a part-time plant stand, don’t be afraid to grab this little table and get creative—Charles would be delighted if you did.
Looking to make a statement? Check out the Select Eames Wire Base Low Table, available for a limited time in three bold colors—cobalt blue, red-orange, yellow-gold.
Trained as an architect, but proficient in all manner of activities, Alexander Girard was introduced to Herman Miller through Charles Eames and George Nelson. In 1952, Girard established the Herman Miller Textile Division and served as its Director of Design until 1973. From his outpost in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he designed over 300 textiles, multiple collections of wallpaper, decorative prints and wall hangings, an expansive group of furniture, and both decorative and useful objects.
Introduced in 1952, Girard’s first textile collection for Herman Miller included a range of bold colors and versatile textures. To this foundation he went on to add woven patterns and printed designs. Unhampered by the style and taste of his day, Girard explored different approaches to color, pattern, texture, mood, and production method. The resulting body of work is not only staggering in volume and creativity, but due to its beauty and usefulness, remains completely relevant today.
Our first re-edition of Alexander Girard Textiles focuses on textures. Though often heralded for his patterns, Girard produced a body of woven textures for Herman Miller that are timeless and versatile. Each textile is faithfull in weave and color to its original, with one enhancement: each now uses the most advanced environmental constructions and materials available.
We believe that design is a process that begins with people. This philosophy began with our first Design Director Gilbert Rohde who said that design was the only honest way to make furniture that served people.
In healthcare, serving people means giving special attention to patients, nurses, doctors, and other people involved in the continuum of care. Herman Miller does this by understanding and empathizing with each person’s experience. We then do our best to share these insights with product development teams through reports, hallway conversations, and workshops. The results become the award-winning designs like the Oasis Overbed Table and Compass System.
Our people-approach to design was recently recognized by Planetree, a nonprofit and long-time advocate of patient-centered care. Invited to become a member of their Planetree Visionary Design Network (PVDN), Herman Miller works with the organization and its partners to inspire and create healing spaces that begin with people.
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.
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.