Charles Eames once observed, “One of something may be beautiful. But can you stand to see 100 in a row?” That was the challenge facing designer Dan Grabowski when Herman Miller approached him to create a table fit for meeting rooms and classrooms alike. Grabowski’s response was Everywhere Tables—an expansive range of tables based on a kit of parts, with a simple, beautiful sculpted table leg at its heart.
The table leg is an important part of Everywhere Tables; how did you approach its design?
I thought of the legs as a sculpture, shaping them until they had the right sense of mass and scale—which was difficult because the legs need to accommodate such a wide range of table shapes and sizes. It was always a balance between the outer form and the technical requirements of the inside of the leg.
I often see table legs that scream for attention, which can create visual chaos in a large room. I wanted to avoid that, so I designed the Everywhere legs to work with a simple rhythm of light and shadow in mind. When you see a room full of Everywhere Tables it feels nice and clean; the spacing between legs is very precisely defined.
Was there a process you followed when developing Everywhere?
I always begin a design by sketching out ideas, sometimes very roughly. In the case of Everywhere Tables, I quickly moved into 3D modeling. To get a sense of the mass and scale of the leg, I built physical models with foam legs attached to tops made of thick foam core. This allowed everyone to get a sense of scale. As the design progressed, I continued designing in 3D and worked closely with Herman Miller on the engineering.
Were there any technical challenges to overcome?
Sure, there are two points where the leg transitions from an extrusion into a cast part: once at the tabletop and again at the foot. These are both critical connection points that bear a lot of weight and torque. The engineers at Herman Miller developed a slick little connector that met the challenge and let the Everywhere leg maintain its slim, clean aesthetic.
How did you know when the design was finished?
[Laughing] Are designs ever really finished? I look at them as works in progress, particularly furniture. The more you live with a design, the more you learn. I just had the opportunity to revisit Everywhere Tables to design some new table shapes.
Everywhere Tables are now available at the HermanMiller Store alongside a full range of work tools for offices and homes alike. If you’re a small business visiting the store, contact us about setting up a business account, which will give you special access and perks.