Design, Innovation, What's Up
May 10, 2012
Herman Miller's new Quilty textile mimics the water and oil repellant properties of a lotus leaf.
Biologist, innovation consultant, and author, Janine Benyus has dedicated her life to the idea that learning from natural models is the best way to achieve sustainable design. Through her Biomimicry Guild, she has inspired companies to look to nature as model, measure, and mentor in the design process.
She has a lot in common with Charles Eames, who said that design “depends largely on constraints.” For Benyus, it’s a matter of the way everything on earth, with the regrettable exception of most humans, learns to live within nature’s limits. Read more
Better World, Design, What's Up
May 8, 2012
Meridian filing and storage units are one of the first products to use counterweights made from the new cement mix containing recycled powdercoat.
Designing for a Better World means being mindful of the environmental impact of our products. In the past this led us to discontinue rosewood until a sustainable alternative could be found. Today it means eliminating one of our largest landfill items: the overspray from our powdercoating process.
Working in collaboration with a local West Michigan supplier, VanderWall Brothers Concrete, Herman Miller has found a way to recycle leftover powdercoat into a cement mix. The mix is used to make the counterweights that sit in the bottom of filing and storage units, preventing them from tipping over when the drawers are extended.
Testing has even shown the recycled powdercoat improves the binding qualities of the cement, producing a stronger block.It may even have applications in construction products.
Solving an industry-wide problem, we decided to share the new process with all of our competitors, ensuring that maximum environmental impact.
Design, Innovation, Products, What's Up
May 7, 2012
From stone-tipped axes to powerful 3D computer modeling programs, technology has always allowed design to push the boundaries of possibility.
The Atlantic recently included the Herman Miller SAYL chair, designed by Yves Béhar, on their list of designs using new technology to challenge the conventional understanding of how good design looks, feels, and functions. We are in good company. Visit the Atlantic to see the complete list.
May 3, 2012
The George Nelson X-leg table, selected by BassamFellows to join the Herman Miller Collection.
Serving as the Creative Directors of Herman Miller’s Specialty and Consumer division since 2010, BassamFellows’ Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows have been part of the brain trust curating the Herman Miller Collection. “We teach each other new things,” says Fellows. “We’re learning a lot about industrial production at a large scale, and they’re [Herman Miller] learning from us that hand or touch, the little details, that make all the difference.”
Giving life to George Nelson’s concept of the living room and the work room melding together have had BassamFellows looking through the old catalogs and designs to identify pieces and get them to the people. The collection features many well-loved pieces such as Nelson’s X- leg table and Eames chairs reinvented in new materials.
The Herman Miller Collection celebrates the past and present with more than 200 products. Added to this will be new furniture and accessories from today’s most talented designers.
The Collection will be making its first public display in the Herman Miller Pop Up Shop designed by BassamFellow. Located in the heart of New York City’s Soho district, the Pop Up Shop will open May 9 and run through July 1, 2012.
Design, Education, What's Up
May 1, 2012
Recently in the Wall Street Journal, Brian Kane revealed that every design begins the same way: with paper and a pencil. “That is my favorite part of the process—having a good concept come alive on my drawing board!”
To sketching, Kane adds observation. In the case of Swoop, Kane drew on his experience teaching students at the California College of the Arts. He noticed students didn’t sit, as much as they drape themselves across furniture, and they constantly rearranged their furniture for working, meeting, or socializing.
Under Kane’s pencil, a line of modular lounge seating took form. Composed of tables, chairs, and lounges, each piece designed to be arranged, and rearranged. Curved arms encourage relaxation, while discouraging students from setting their soda cans on the upholstery. And deliberately few seams reduce the places for crumbs to collect.
For Kane, “It’s all about comfort and innovation.” Two qualities evident in his designs for Swoop.
Check out Crafting Chairs For How We Sit Now to learn more about Brian Kane’s career designing furniture.
Design, What's Up
April 30, 2012
For more than 30 years, George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames worked with Herman Miller to create iconic designs. While known for pieces like the Coconut chair, Marshmallow sofa, and molded plywood chairs, the truth is there was little these talented designers didn’t do.
From their respective offices in New York and Los Angeles, Nelson and the Eameses oversaw multidisciplinary firms that designed everything from exhibits to films to catalogs. The vintage print ads, above, are just a few examples of the graphic design contributions that defined the visual identity of the Herman Miller brand for decades.
To check out high-resolution versions of the ads, Read more
April 26, 2012
What is ailing in fine furnishings? “Nature,” answers design duo Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows. “I really feel that a connection to nature is what makes Modernism human,” says Bassam, who sees their work as an antidote to novelty-driven and mass-produced design.
Principally made from hand-finished wood, brass, and leather, furniture designed by BassamFellows follows their belief in “core luxury values”: honesty of material, solidity of construction; utility and beauty without elaboration. With the Tuxedo lounge seating, part of the Herman Miller Collection, the goal remains the same: an attention to luxury detail that doesn’t compete with the rest of the room.
April 24, 2012
The traditional sofa is a wooden frame covered with padding and upholstery. Choosing to turn tradition inside out, designer Mark Goetz wrapped his sofa in a shell of molded plywood, creating a structural frame in a material pioneered by Herman Miller.
Designing a sofa for the Herman Miller Collection was a “daunting challenge,” says Goetz. “If I were sitting in a room with Eames, Nelson, and Noguchi, and we were discussing design, I would be listening rather than talking,” he said. “When designing the sofa, I took on that role, trying to understand the qualities of the Collection that make it so wonderful. I wanted to create something that echoes the Collection and respectfully adds to it.”
Understanding that design is deeper than styling, Goetz made sure that his sofa would be comfortable, no matter what position you are in. He conducted research and consulted experts to arrive at a seat depth that provides ergonomic sitting support as well as room to lie down.
The result is a design that shares good company with the works of Eames, Nelson, and Noguchi.
Better World, Design, What's Up
April 23, 2012
The cover of Bill Birchard's book Merchant of Vitrue.
What role does design play in sustaining the earth? “The biggest role,” says writer, journalist, and Merchant of Virtue author Bill Birchard. An environmental advocate and proponent of business sustainability, Birchard shared with us his thoughts on caring for the earth, the importance of measuring environmental performance, and of course, design.
There’s always a lot of press coverage around Earth Day. It’s hard to know whether we’re doing better or worse at caring for the earth. What’s your view?
I think it’s useful to distinguish between consumers and companies. As a consumer, it’s sometimes hard to see whether we’re doing much better. On the corporate side, we’re doing a lot better. And that’s significant, because corporations have a huge amount of leverage compared to consumers. A recent Sloan/MIT study showed that 68% of companies had increased their commitment to sustainability in the last year, compared to just 25% doing so two years ago. Companies still have a long way to go, but the trend toward greater responsibility by the most powerful institutions on earth—corporations—appears irreversible. Read more
April 19, 2012
BassamFellows design is “about merging the rationality and clarity of Modernism with the warmth and texture of nature” and marks the return of true craftsmanship and beauty to contemporary living. “We want to mix the timelessness and attention to detail of the modern classics with contemporary design, and blend it with honest materials, solid construction, beauty, and utility,” expresses Bassam. Read more