Design, Herman Miller Journal, What's Up
May 17, 2010
What do you get when you get when you tell students at Pratt Institute to immerse themselves in another culture and create products that demonstrate they understood what the experience was all about? Well, you get boxes that turn into chairs, ceramic wallets, kinetic toys—and a whole lot more.
It’s all part of a partnership with Herman Miller whereby industrial design students were charged with coming up with a theme, then executing their ideas in a competition. The prize? A booth at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), held in New York City May 15-18. The students’ theme “Empathy for Culture” and the resulting creations won them a place at the show.
Herman Miller lent some of its people, namely Fabienne Munch, Gary Smith, and Tim McLoughlin, to provide guidance to the students throughout the creative process.
“Empathy for culture is beyond feeling for others,” said Fabienne, Director of Ideation for Herman Miller. “It appeals to a peculiar understanding of a culture’s own dialectics: what’s visible, what’s invisible or taken for granted; what’s felt, what’s cognitive; what’s conscious, what’s unconscious; what’s symbolic, what’s ephemeral?”
“They helped us to not only focus on our concepts, but also made us realize that our ideas were valid as designers,” Sara McBeen, a graduate student at Pratt, said about the guidance provided by Herman Miller. “Each of us found our own way to stay true and honest to the messages we were trying to communicate with our pieces. These kinds of opportunities are invaluable in shaping where we will go from here.”
McBeen’s project, the Aata table, “reflects the coming together, socializing, and sharing so strongly exhibited in Middle Eastern culture,” which she chose to investigate after traveling there and “appreciating their generosity, goodness, and hospitality.”
“This project gave me a chance to experience design expression in its purest form by translating my passion for Buddhism and meditation into a physical manifestation,” said Ivey Lian, another Pratt grad student, who was inspired by 10 days she spent at a silent Buddhist meditation retreat in Thailand.
Her piece, the Enso Wall Light, was based on a Zen Buddhist symbol showing the moment when the mind is free to let the body and spirit create.
“Every day distances within the world are shrinking,” said Mark Goetz, the students’ instructor at Pratt, who initiated the partnership with Herman Miller. “Pratt, an international gathering place for talent, is uniquely suited to express these issues. The exhibit represents a sincere effort from our students to express a deeper understanding a respect for cultures different from our own.”
And what better way to prepare them for the global village they’ll be part of as industrial designers?
Photographs of students’ work courtesy of Armando Rafael.
Better World, Herman Miller Journal
May 14, 2010
If you’ve ever meandered the paths in the rolling landscape around Herman Miller’s GreenHouse facility, you might not think you’re on the grounds of a manufacturing plant. But flowers and trees and critters are exactly what you’ll find surrounding the GreenHouse. Even the name of the building reminds you of the natural environment.
The bees in the apiary on the east end of the property pollinate this landscape and help it to blossom each spring and summer. (Learn more about Herman Miller’s honey bees in this video, “Sweeter Solution.”)
Facing north, truck trailers are framed by a hillside designed to be left wild.
Just over the rise is a pond where geese congregate and a pair of resident swans call home. This landscape—in all its wildness—is not the result of a neglectful, uncaring owner. Instead it’s an example of how Herman Miller incorporates our environmental policy to provide green spaces around each of our facilities.
I’m sure many of us drive to and from work, hardly noticing the beauty of our surroundings. Personally, I enjoy taking a closer look at the residents we share this space with: Songbirds, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, ducks, geese, and swans—just to name a few—call this space home. We pass these neighbors every day to enter our workplace, which sits in the middle of their outdoor habitat.
Even the grass at this facility is special. Instead of the usual manicured lawns that adorn most commercial building grounds, Herman Miller has chosen a variety of buffalo grass, which requires less water than other grasses, and very little mowing. Every few years, we conduct a controlled burn, which helps the grass thrive the same way it would in a wild environment.
For much of the year, all around the GreenHouse the grounds bloom with a variety of wildflowers and provide habitat for a multitude of creatures. It’s one way we help create a better world around us.
Design, Herman Miller Journal
May 10, 2010
A nice tribute by Steven Heller appeared in The New York Times’ T Magazine this week, honoring Don Ervin, a graphic designer and sculptor who was killed this year at the age of 85.
Ervin was known for the ads he created for Herman Miller, such as this one showing silhouettes of our classic furniture surrounding our logo mark in the center.
In addition to the logos he designed for Conoco, Met Life, Transamerica, Cargill, Abbott Laboratories, and TRW, he also created the title and poster for the 1961 film “The Misfits.”
With a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in industrial design from Carnegie Mellon University, Ervin’s career focused on corporate identity—from packaging to signage. Over the years, he worked for Architectural Record magazine, George Nelson & Company, Lippincott & Margulies, Sandgren & Murtha, Tempo Ltd., and Siegel & Gale.
Heller notes: “What stands out in Ervin’s oeuvre, and should be included in graphic design history books, exhibitions and courses (where there is nary a mention), are the logos and trademarks he created, like the Abbott Laboratories ‘a,’ which Ervin said was derived from the serpent wrapped around the staff of Aesculapius, the traditional medical symbol; the four ‘Ms’ of Metropolitan Life Insurance, designed to give the ‘gray lady of insurance companies’ a contemporary look; and Transamerica’s flowing, bifurcated ‘T.’”
Ervin had the talent to make his clients stand out. We’ll miss him for his keen eye and good ideas in graphic design.
Better World, Herman Miller Journal, What's Up
April 26, 2010
Herman Miller is proud to be among the activists, educators, and businesspeople honored on Earth Day as one of 16 inaugural Michigan Green Leaders.The award recognizes those who are working to make Michigan’s economy and communities sustainable and vibrant.
From planting trees and recycling trash into art supplies, to making campuses, industrial sites, and a resort into environmental models, the Green Leaders range from huge corporations to tiny nonprofits and individuals. And they’re working to make Michigan a cleaner, greener place to live.
One of the judges for the award, Rick Plewa, senior vice president for sustainability for Comerica, said, “I was simply amazed at how many people are working on green issues and have been for a long time. It filled me with optimism for Michigan’s future.”
At Herman Miller, sustainability has been part of our heritage since our founder, D.J. De Pree, said, “We will be a good steward of the environment.” That was 1953. Since then, we’ve innovated new ways of preserving and living with the natural environment. We’ve also helped found associations that help other companies do the same. These days, we remain committed to getting rid of the negatives–waste and contamination. But we don’t think that’s enough. As our CEO, Brian Walker, says, “The attitude we’ve adopted is to go beyond eliminating the negative to creating a positive. We’re constantly pushing ourselves to go beyond what is required.”
Check out our 2020 “Perfect Vision” goals to see what we’re aiming to accomplish. (We’ve already achieved one of them: 100% green energy.)
Better World, Herman Miller Journal
April 22, 2010
One hundred percent green energy: One 2020 Perfect Vision goal achieved—in 2010. And we’re awfully proud about it at Herman Miller. But so what?
“So what” is that we were able to accomplish this goal due to the cost saving suggestions of our very own employees, rather than spending additional money.
Good business and sustainable business are accepted as one and the same and it’s deeply ingrained here at Herman Miller. Couple this with an environment where good ideas—no matter where they come from—are valued, and you have a cauldron of innovative and eco-friendly solutions.
There have been many ideas over the years that have helped Herman Miller save money and reach our 100% green energy goal. And there have been those that didn’t originally seem like a good idea, but have proven their worth and changed some of our own minds.
One example is the use of winding heaters on the big dust collector motors in our manufacturing facilities. (A winding heater uses the motor’s own internal wiring to keep it warm and avoid stress, which can occur by frequent stopping and starting during cold temperatures.) Roger Bosch, one of our master electricians, suggested using the winding heaters to help regulate the motors in the dust collectors. He figured Herman Miller could save operating expenses by having the option to turn off the motors when they weren’t in use. At first, some people were skeptical, but after closer evaluation the project was indeed a money saver. Energy manager Jerry Akers said the payback saved Herman Miller a “bucket load.” Overall, it’s estimated that the winding heaters will eventually help us save more than $52,000/year, nearly 700,000 kWh, and around 500 tons of carbon.
Not bad for a little people power, trust, and a penchant for sustainability.
Better World, Herman Miller Journal
April 21, 2010
Each year, we consume an estimated 500 billion plastic bags worldwide—equal to over one million bags per minute. Currently, it’s actually more expensive to recycle plastic bags and bring them back into the market than it is to make new ones.
Engage in Change is an effort established by a team of Herman Miller employees to engage coworkers in a way to create reusable grocery bags from Herman Miller’s scrap textile material. Another great benefit is that the project aligns with our environmental goals: Every time people use reusable bags rather than plastic, they are helping the environment.
Beginning in January, employees came together to sew and assemble reusable bags from scrap fabric—and to have a good time doing it. The project ran through April, in time to celebrate Earth Day. Over 80 volunteers sewed five bags to donate and were able to keep one bag for themselves. The sewing occurred at our GreenHouse facility—where our seating upholstery is done—and at the homes of our sewing-savvy coworkers. Volunteers made more than 500 bags over the course of the project, utilizing more than 500 yards of scrap fabric.
The bags were given to employees who participated in a company-sponsored Earth Day activity, such as the Adopt-a-Highway program or our annual Earth Day recycling event. A big thanks to all of those employees who helped make this project happen!
Herman Miller Journal, What's Up
April 14, 2010
Last week, Herman Miller’s own creative director, Steve Frykholm, was named one of three recipients of the 2010 AIGA Medal–the highest honor of the graphic design profession. It’s awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services, or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication. Along with John Maeda and Jennifer Morla, Steve will be presented with the award at the AIGA Design Legends Gala in 2011.
AIGA executive director Richard Grefé said, “AIGA is proud to recognize the 2010 Medalists for their exceptional contributions to the field of design. Each has contributed to the way design can intrigue the spirit, engage curiosity, enhance business, explore creative use of visual technique, and communicate value that is respected by business, society and our popular culture.”
Steve has directed Herman Miller’s graphic identity for 40 years. His iconic work has been widely published and exhibited at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and the Danish Museum of Decorative Art.
As Cheryl Heller, chair of the AIGA awards committee, noted, “Each Medalist this year is completely unique, yet all three are stellar examples of how to be a true leader and live a life in design.”
Unique? That’s what we love about Steve. Stellar? Definitely. At Herman Miller, Steve Frykholm is as iconic as his picnic posters. We’re honored to have him here.
Herman Miller Journal
April 2, 2010
For the finishing touches on your spring holiday festivities, why not consider the delectable contrasting flavors of chocolate and orange? It’s a nice follow-up to the Steamed Halibut in Borscht and Roasted Rosemary Rack of Lamb that we offered for the first two courses in our spring recipe series.
Dark Chocolate Orange Tart
Candied Orange Peel
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
¼ lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
For Candied Orange Peel
Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) from orange in strips. Cut strips into matchstick-size pieces and place in small saucepan. Cover with cold water; bring to boil. Cook 30 seconds; drain. Rinse saucepan; add ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water and peel. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until peel is translucent and syrup is thick, about 20 minutes. Using tines of fork, transfer peel to plate and cool.
For the Crust
Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder. Add flour and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 11-inch round; peel off top sheet of paper. Invert dough over 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Gently press dough into pan. Press dough overhang to form double-thick sides. Pierce dough all over with fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake crust until sides look dry and bottom looks bubbly, about 14 minutes. Transfer crust to rack. Using back of spoon, press up sides of dough if falling. Cool completely.
For the Filling
Toss almonds, sugar, and cinnamon into a small bowl. Chop all but two strips of peel. Sprinkle chopped orange peel, then almond mixture over bottom of prepared crust. Place cream in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer; remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth; mix in Grand Marnier. Pour into crust.
Refrigerate until filling is firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with remaining orange peel strips.
Herman Miller Journal, What's Up
March 31, 2010
In 2008, only six companies in the U.S. (Microsoft, Cisco, Apple, Google, Whole Foods, and Herman Miller) made three top lists: FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and Most Admired Companies, and FastCompany’s Most Innovative Companies. In 2010, four of those six made all three lists again—Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and us. Why are we telling you about it?
For many reasons, but mainly because we think it means good things for our customers. When you work with a company—and its people noted for pioneering new approaches and advocating for a better way—the chances you’ll benefit go way up.
In any case, we’re proud to be the only company in our industry on any of these lists, and we’re humbled by the organizations we appear with.
The reality behind these rankings—at least in the case of the FORTUNE lists—comes from employee surveys. Making these lists is a sign of the health for our business and our communities. It also says something good about the relationship between our leadership and our employees. We know our customers ultimately benefit.
In the case of the FastCompany award, we were further distinguished as an “Innovation All-Star,” the only Michigan-based company on the list. We guess our selection has something to do with our award-winning Herman Miller Performance System.
We do a lot of talking around here about working for a better world around you. By “you” we mean our community of customers, employees, shareholders, and contributors of all sorts. Whatever else these awards mean, others are recognizing us for doing what we say.
Herman Miller Journal
March 26, 2010
This is the second in a series of three spring holiday recipes from Marigold Lodge. (To see the first one, check out the Steamed Halibut in Borscht with Chive-Horseradish Sauce.) Next up: Dessert!
Celery Root Puree
2 medium-sized celery roots (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
2 medium pototoes (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp. butter
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Rack of Lamb
2 French-cut racks of lamb, cut in half with 4 ribs per serving
4 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, removed from stem and chopped
½ cup olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
1½ cups reduced veal or beef stock
Salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut lengthwise into strips
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Celery Root Puree
In a medium sauce pan over high heat, add butter and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add celery root, potatoes, and chicken stock. Bring liquid to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until celery root and potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and strain.
Allow celery root mixture to cool. Place into a food processor and puree until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. May be made one day ahead of time. Reheat in sauce pan just before serving. Note that puree may stick to pan while reheating, so stir often.
Rack of Lamb
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Season lamb with salt and pepper and rub rosemary evenly on each rack. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Place lamb racks into skillet and sear each side until brown. Remove racks and place on a sheet pan; place into oven for 10-12 minutes, or until lamb reads 120 degrees F. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Remove any extra oil from skillet; add wine and stock and reduce by half. Salt and pepper to taste.
In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add asparagus and sauté until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.
This dish may be served on a large platter or individual plates. Line plate with asparagus and place celery root puree over asparagus. Cut each four-rib rack into half; cross the rib bones together and place over the puree. Spoon stock reduction over lamb and serve. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.