Better World, Well-Being
December 28, 2009
Drizzly Denmark is the happiest country in the world. No, really. There’s research to back it up. But other research shows Costa Rica is happiest. It all depends on what you measure.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—the Paris-based group that says Denmark is happiest—measures only life satisfaction. It asked citizens questions like “Did you learn something today?” and “Were you proud of something you did yesterday?”
But, nef, the independent “think-and-do tank” that says Costa Rica is happiest, measures life satisfaction, life expectancy, and ecological footprint. This allows it to assess the “environmental efficiency with which, country by country, people live long and happy lives.” It assigns each country a “Happy Planet Index” (HPI). So it’s not just about the happiness of a country’s people; it’s about whether or not the way that country’s citizens live makes the planet happy. An interactive map shows each country’s cumulative index and its index for each measure.
In addition to checking out your country’s HPI, you can also calculate your own personal HPI. Mine was 64. That’s above the world average of 46 but well below the target of 83, “which represents a good life that doesn’t cost the earth,” according to the folks at nef. Once you have your score, the site generates suggestions on how to improve in each area.
My ecological footprint really hurt my overall score, a weakness my country shares: The U.S. ranked 114th on the Happy Planet Index because it, too, has an outsized ecological footprint. We’re both going to have to work on that.
Check out what Herman Miller is doing to improve our ecological footprint through our environmental advocacy initiatives.
Design, Healthcare, Products, Well-Being
December 23, 2009
I love talking to designers. They’re such problem-solvers. For example, the other day, I had a really interesting conversation with Martin Linder, designer of the Florabella Lounge Collection by Brandrud (a Herman Miller company), which recently won a Nightingale Award at the Healthcare Design 09 conference. Our discussion ranged from worry beads to hugs to pathogens to machines for detecting explosives in airports (which he also designs, but that’s a whole other story.)
Linder, a tenured professor at San Francisco State University and partner in MSL Design, believes good design starts with good research, so he spent many hours in hospital waiting rooms observing how people interact with the furniture there. Some, he discovered, found comfort using armrest seams as “worry beads;” others took the concept of “lounge” to new heights – or depths, actually. These and other factors (did we mention those pesky pathogens?) were all taken into consideration before he ever picked up a drawing tool.
In addition to his observations, Linder also talked with hospital personnel, including nurses and maintenance crews.
December 17, 2009
I had the coolest experience the other day – talking to a 6th grade class about writing. After I gave my spiel about what a great career it is and how many opportunities there are, I gave them an assignment: Create an ad for a soccer ball that has two distinct characteristics: It glows in the dark and it’s made out of an indestructible material called Toughcoat.
I couldn’t believe their responses. They totally got into it and I had trouble keeping up with all the fantastic ideas they were throwing at me!
Headlines like, “Play soccer under the stars,” “The ball that can’t be beat,” “The soccer ball with muscle,” “The best night-light ever!” I just never expected such great ideas from them. And I think I learned a valuable lesson that day: Kids are creative. Kids like to think. Kids can make work fun. Isn’t that the way it should be for adults, too?
December 3, 2009
A recent survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that nearly one in five U.S. companies now allow pets at work. Many of these pet-friendly offices belong to small startups (my personal favorite, Small Dog Electronics, devotes a page on its website to employee and customer dogs) probably because with fewer employees it’s easier to reach consensus on issues like pet hair and squeak toys. But larger businesses are also signing on.
Do you share an office with a furry friend? Send your stories and photos to Discover and we’ll highlight them in a future blog post.
Products, Well-Being, What's Up
November 25, 2009
Last week, the National Ergonomic Conference and Expo (NECE) took place in Las Vegas, attracting safety and ergonomic gurus from across the nation. NECE attendees have access to a wealth of information, from finding new ways to reduce workplace related injuries to improving productivity. The conference is also a great place to discover new products and build relationships.
Herman Miller featured several products, including this year’s NECE Attendees’ Choice Award winner, the Envelop desk. Also on display were: the Embody chair (last year’s Attendees’ Choice Award winner), the Setu chair, Sense desking system, Intent furniture, keyboard and mouse support products, the Flute personal light, and the Twist LED task light.
Design, Healthcare, Well-Being
November 17, 2009
Keynote speeches, round table discussions, hands-on workshops, lecture presentations, exhibit hall displays, awards ceremonies (to honor the Florabella lounge collection, a winner in the Nightingale Awards Competition), and interpersonal conversations shaped the collective Herman Miller Healthcare experience at the Healthcare Design conference held Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 in Orlando, Florida.
Our live media team, composed of individuals from Herman Miller and our subsidiaries Brandrud and Nemschoff, covered the event live on Twitter under stream #hcd09.
What did we learn? What were the major trends we observed and takeaways we will continue to think about? What texture did we take away from the intangible? We synthesized our experience and now we present five takeaway points back to you for consideration:
1. You can apply lean process to any industry. Learn and apply best practices from other fields.
2. Use evidence-based design to drive innovation.
3. Patients, doctors, nurses, furniture, infrastructure, equipment, buildings, and nature are all part of the same ecosystem.
4. Design healthcare products and environments that reference norms but create delight.
5. Listen, ask, test, challenge, and participate in communities that are shaping the future of healthcare.
We’d love to hear your reactions. Do you agree? Understand? Let’s continue the conversation here and on Twitter. Follow @healthcarehm and stream #betterworld.
Design, Healthcare, Well-Being, What's Up
October 27, 2009
Today I picked up a brick and threw it across a parking lot. Maybe you crushed a sheet of aluminum foil? Your daughter might have let a pawful of sand fall through her fingers, or your best friend might be crawling around on a shag carpet right now.
Almost every material or object has a texture. These items and surfaces are tangible. They have weight, density, and a composite quality. We have tactile reactions to products and artifacts that can be drivers for our purchasing decisions and triggers for memories.
But can an experience have a texture? Does a conversation or a presentation have a tactile signature? How might we qualify the interactions and knowledge shared at a conference?
September 28, 2009
For Dmitri Brown, the whole idea of work/life balance unfolded gradually. When he graduated from college in 2004, he was headed for a career in corporate law. He went to Maine for a year to study for the LSAT and snowboard. But two funny things happened on the way to law school: He figured out he didn’t want to be a lawyer and he didn’t need a lot of money to live on. That was his first a-ha.
September 25, 2009
Photo: courtesy of Danielle Soles
I began teaching English at our local community college as a gig, a little diversion from the monotony of the glass screen. Hours at the computer makes me feel like a social misfit. I figured that teaching a night class here and there would at least refresh my ability to talk.
I never expected to like it so much.
September 11, 2009
Within the family, my mother was known as the “Queen of De Nile.” With ten kids and a Peter Pan-ish visionary for a husband, she learned that selective blindness was a helpful and adaptive way to keep her sanity.