Back in 1948, Herman Miller was in need of a new catalog to show off its pioneering modern designs by George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames. Rising to the challenge, Nelson proposed a sophisticated catalog printed on high quality paper and full of beautiful photography. The problem? As DJ De Pree, founder of Herman Miller, made clear, the company could never afford to produce it.
Never deterred, Nelson redesigned the catalog. This time with an expensive hardcover and a color printed dust jacket—and a three-dollar price tag. Nelson, not wanting to compromise on quality, felt customers would pay for a catalog that demonstrated the same thoughtfulness evident in other Herman Miller designs. DJ had never heard of anyone doing this, but, in his wonderful way, he let Nelson go ahead with the idea.
The 1948 Herman Miller catalog proved to be a hit. Reprinted repeatedly over the following years, the price eventually became five dollars. Today, it is highly sought after by collectors of modern design.
Check out a slide show of the 1948 catalog here.