In August 2009, the traveling exhibit Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller hit the road. In a multilayered story format, the exhibit examines the development of well-known Herman Miller products, such as the Aeron chair, Action Office, and a selection of iconic Eames products. Each story explores how a need was met through the collaborative, problem-solving approach that Herman Miller does so well.
“When you look at needs and problems, you aren’t inhibited by the market constraints,” says John Berry, guest curator of the exhibit. “It’s very much about understanding a need and meeting that need and creating, as Herman Miller often does, a brand new market.”
The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA) and The Henry Ford Museum, which houses the largest collection of Herman Miller products in the world. Since its opening at the MMA, Good Design has traveled to four cities: St. Paul, Minnesota; Dearborn, Michigan; Syracuse, New York; and lately, San Angelo, Texas. Wherever it goes, the reception has been enthusiastic.
“Even in San Angelo, in the middle of Texas, the opening attracted 600 people,” says Berry.
“I find that people can relate to the exhibit because these are items that are in the common vernacular,” he adds. “When you see a plastic shell chair that you probably sat on in school, you can say, ‘Oh, that was an Eames design.’ You understand that this chair wasn’t the result of casual decisions. It required serious, robust research to meet real needs.”
The exhibit is scheduled to open at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, from January 29, 2011, to April 3, 2011. Additional stops include Austin, Texas; Midland, Michigan; Chattanooga, Tennessee; San Francisco, California; and Kalamazoo, Michigan, before it ends in 2013.