December 25, 2012
Charles and Ray Eames kept many of the holiday cards they received over the years—cards from family and friends, including the likes for Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Eero and Lily Saarinen, and D.J. De Pree. Not surprising, considering the Eames’s inclination to collect and curate objects they found beautiful, intriguing, or particularly well designed.
For more holiday cards and Eames ephemera, visit the Library of Congress website, where you can view many of the over 1,000,000 Eames photos and documents housed in the Library’s collection.
Design, What's Up
December 13, 2012
In a 1980 interview with Ruth Bowman for the Archives of American Art, Ray responded to a question about her chosen vocation:
“I never thought of myself as an artist and couldn’t bear the word.”
She objected to the generality of the label, but her comments about her interdisciplinary approach to art and design provide an intriguing contrast:
“It was natural for me not to separate them, you know—now you study history, now you study dance, now you study music, or now you study pottery or whatever it is—it all seemed to be one thing. “
Of Ray’s many artistic pursuits—painting, film, textiles, fashion, and furniture design—perhaps the most personal was her proclivity for making interesting arrangements with found objects. Of her curious habit, she said:
“Almost everything that was ever collected was an example of some facet of design and form. We never collected anything as just collectors, but because something was inherent in the piece that made it seem like a good idea to be looking at it. “
It’s always a good idea to revisit the work of Charles and Ray Eames, especially in light of the 100th anniversary of Ray’s birth on Saturday, December 15, 2012. We celebrate Ray’s life and work as a painter, collector, and designer.
December 11, 2012
How do you design a better patient chair? For us it began with conversations, more than 200 of them. We spoke with caregivers, patients, and other support personnel to find out what works and what doesn’t. We also consulted with ergonomists, physical therapists, and gerontologists to understand the recovery process. We learned a lot, and the resulting design became the Nala Chair.
Patients need to be comfortable—physically as well as emotionally. One way the Nala Chair addresses this is by mimicking the natural movement of a person’s body: tilting and pivoting at the ankle, knee, and hip. The motion of the chair is relaxed and controlled; heavier patients will not recline too quickly and lighter ones will not move forward too quickly. Nala’s arms, long and wide, provide patients with ample place to grip while getting in and out of the chair—ensuring patients feel secure.
For caregivers, transferring seated patients up and out of a chair can be a strenuous task. To assist them, Nala was designed with a leaf spring to reduce the physical effort needed to move a patient. To simplify cleaning, Nala was designed with sizeable gaps between components to minimize debris build-up. Resilient materials and finishes were selected to stand up to the rigors of healthcare environments.
We believe that design is a process that begins with people. That’s why we talk to the right people, ask lots of questions, and listen carefully to their answers. The results of these conversations, as in the case of Nala, can be comfortable and healthy.
December 4, 2012
“Good design is a blend of art and science,” explains designer Jeff Weber. “Using that combination to positively impact how people live and work is really exciting.”
As a kid, Weber was fascinated by the way things worked. “I was always tinkering—either building things or tearing them apart,” he says. Following a suggestion from his grandfather, Weber became interested in industrial design. “I never really thought about doing anything else,” he recalls.
As co-creator of the Embody Chair, alongside Bill Stumpf, Weber worked closely with optometrists, neurologists, and other medical specialists to learn how to “support the body in a healthful way and enable motion.” The resulting design is pleasing to the eye and has been shown to lower the sitter’s heart rate and reduce stress—good for both mind and body.
For Weber, the hard work pays off when he sees someone sitting in a chair and appreciating it. “That’s the most satisfying part.”
Design, What's Up
November 29, 2012
George Nelson was a talented writer, a rare gift for someone equally gifted in design, architecture, and the visual arts. With just a few select words, Nelson could guide a reader through an intricate, visual world or define a philosophy in broad sweeps. The author of 11 books and at least 179 articles, Nelson was also prolific.
As Jordan Pierce of the Yale Daily News recently noted, “Nelson stands apart for his wit, lucidity and ability to incorporate a thoughtful, human perspective.” True of Nelson’s writing, as well as his design work. “Nelson tore the numbers from clocks,” explains Peirce, “he put clutter in ‘storage walls’ and turned workplaces into ‘Action Offices.’” By doing so, Nelson earned his position as a founder of American Modernism.
For an opportunity to see Nelson’s writings, alongside his other works, be sure to visit George Nelson: Architect | Writer | Designer | Teacher, a traveling exhibition currently showing at the Yale School of Architecture gallery.
Not in the New Haven area? The new George Nelson Foundation website is another great resource. Check it out here.
November 27, 2012
The last thing designer Marcel Wanders wants to be is boring. “There’s enough of that in life,” he says. “I’m interested in designing things that excite people and make them feel alive.” With a chair made out of knots and a chandelier called Happy Hour in his portfolio, Wanders is certainly on the right track.
For the Troy Chair, designed for Magis, Wanders created an intricate pattern inspired by the lush motifs of damask fabrics. The pattern, molded into the back of the chair’s plywood seat, imparts the modern profile with a romantic sensibility. The result is elegant, and, explains Wanders, a “lovely balance between new and old.”
Wanders’ prolific body of work, ranging from fashion accessories to lavish hotels, is represented in museums around the world, including the Museums of Modern Art in both New York and San Francisco and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Design, What's Up
November 26, 2012
How would you describe the Eames Lounge and Ottoman? For Charles Eames, the chair invoked the “warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s glove.” Composed of tufted-leather cushions and richly grained molded-plywood shells, the chair has been seen by others as a modern interpretation of a traditional English club chair.
Introduced in 1956, the Eames lounge and ottoman has become an icon of design—an icon built to last. Combining high-quality materials and craftsmanship, Charles and Ray Eames designed the chair to withstand the rigors of everyday life. And, much like Charles’ baseball glove, the lounge and ottoman only gets better with use.
If you’re interested in designs built to last, be sure to visit the HermanMiller Store or authorized retailer to shop the Herman Miller Sale. Save 15 percent on classics like the Eames Lounge and Ottoman, now until December 10, 2012.
Better World, Design, What's Up
November 20, 2012
In 2008, we began encouraging our employees to carpool and bike to work. Four years later, the program has resulted in 474,997 miles saved—that’s the equivalent of 19 trips around the earth’s equator.
Every year we collect information like miles saved, environmental emissions, and charitable activities into our Better World Report. We do this to let you know what we’re doing to reach our goals in four areas—community service, inclusiveness and diversity, health and well-being, and environmental advocacy. Are we perfect and do we always succeed? Of course not, but we believe every trip around the equator saved is a step in the right direction.
To learn how we turned 16 into 15,992, check out the new Better World Report.
Design, What's Up
November 19, 2012
In 1963, the Eames Office encouraged people to “Beware of imitations” and “Enjoy the comfort of the real thing.” Fifty years later, the issue of knockoffs has grown even more troublesome. That’s why Herman Miller has joined with Thonet, Maharam, and other manufactures, retailers, and designers to support the Authentic Design Alliance (ADA). A nonprofit organization, the ADA advocates stricter copyright laws to protect the quality, craftsmanship, and integrity that come with authentic design. One way you can show your support is by signing the ADA’s online petition. Open to everyone to sign, the petition will be delivered to Australian lawmakers in the ADA’s first effort at affecting change.
If you’re interested in authentic design, be sure to visit the HermanMiller Store during our holiday sale to save 15 percent storewide. Sale ends December 10, 2013.
Design, What's Up
November 15, 2012
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.