A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Just ask T.J. Allen. His research of communications and its relation to collaborating led to the idea of the Allen Curve: the more distance there is between people, the less they will communicate. The effect really kicks in at 50 meters, or 150 feet.
Designing offices to be more compact is one way to counter an aversion to taking a walk at work. This ends up being a win-win for the business: People talk more (coming up with better ideas) and real estate costs go down.
Smaller offices and places for people to gather or bump into one another, as J. Michael Welton writes about in The New York Times, shared offices, compact conference rooms equipped with technology, quiet spots to get away from it all, choices in where to work given the task at hand, all these are elements in creating the right balance. That’s key. Intelligent remixing between individual offices and group and community areas, as opposed to simply shedding real estate, is necessary for enabling one of the organization’s largest resources—its human talent.
Every year, late in the month of May, we celebrate the birthdays of George Nelson and Alexander Girard. Director of design and director of textiles, respectively, these two men established design as central to all aspects of the company. In many instances their works were the face of Herman Miller to the world. We owe them much.
In love with each other and design, Brendon Breen and Justine Alcantara arranged to have their engagement photos taken at our LA Showroom. Surprised and flattered, we wondered what led two young design enthusiasts to pick such an unconventional venue.
Why have your engagements photos taken at Herman Miller’s LA showroom? Justine: For me, engagement photos tell a lot about a couple, and I wanted ours to be a reflection of us. I wanted to capture our personalities.
Brendon: All the credit goes to Justine on this one. I actually wasn’t bright enough to conjure up such a brilliant idea. She knows my passion for modern classics, and we wanted a location that would really tell our friends and family who we were. That is when she came up with the idea for the Herman Miller showroom. Not only could we have great photos sitting in our favorite pieces, but the architecture of the building itself was stunning as well.
Both of you are self-professed design enthusiasts, can you share was that means? B: I guess it’s as simple as saying design runs my life. More than a hobby, or even a career, it is who I am.
J: For me, it’s simply just a love, respect and appreciation for good, clean design. I love it all, interior, graphic, typography, and event design. I love how inspired I feel every time I encounter something out of the ordinary. Read more
There are lots of forces at play in today’s workplaces. People are drawn to the buzz of activity. Ask, and most of them will tell you they’re more productive, more energized, and more engaged when they’re around other people. So it makes sense to shrink the size of offices; it not only brings people closer together, which can foster collaborating, but it also cuts real estate costs. Given that many offices aren’t being used, the trend toward compacting offices is understandable; nothing kills the buzz in an office faster than a bunch of empty workstations.
All that togetherness can cause problems, though, with cries for quiet piercing the office buzz. Putting people too close together without places they can go to concentrate can backfire. That’s why smart companies are using some of the real estate they save to design other types of spaces, such as community zones, gathering areas, quiet rooms, and phone booths, so people have choice and variety in where they work. These companies are cutting real estate costs while giving employees a better workplace. It becomes a matter of making real estate work harder, so it costs less and it gives people an appealing, inspiring place where they can to do their best work.
Each school worked within a theme. Cranbrook students contemplated the challenges of the modern office, imagining a work culture in which living and working blend even more deeply than they do today. The students at Pratt sought to create designs that balance body and mind in ways that potentially increase health benefits and elevate mood and productivity while providing a greater degree of personal satisfaction from the user experience.
The students collaborated closely with Herman Miller. As Gary Smith, our Director of Design Facilitation & Exploration, noted, “The process helped the students understand the complex set of voices beyond the designer’s own, which are necessary to achieve commercial success.”
The resulting designs offer a look at the future from the people who will be creating it.
It’s a 50-cent word, but “dematerialization” just might save us millions, to say nothing of our planet. The basic idea is getting down to only what is essential, or, as Charles Eames said in the 1940s, “the best for the most for the least.”
Doing more with less certainly predates Mr. Eames, but dematerialization has had a resurgence lately, largely as a response to conspicuous consumption (McMansion anyone?), a throwaway culture (it’s cheaper to buy a new one than fix the old one), and planned obsolescence (as Annie Leonard says in The Story of Stuff, only 1% of things are still in use 6 months after purchase).
It’s no wonder those concerned about sustainability see promise in dematerialization, an idea whose logic train goes from using less material to eliminating material altogether while still delivering the same level of functionality. An example of this promise they often point to is music delivery. From LPs to cassettes to CDs to digital downloads, the progression eliminated lots of plastic waste and the resources and energy needed to make it. (The sustainability costs of using the Internet to download the music will be left to another discussion.) Read more
Herman Miller Creative Director Ben Watson introduces our New York City pop up shop in this video for design blog PSFK. Open until July 1, 2012, Pop Up is an opportunity for everyone to meet the Herman Miller Collection: classic designs from our archives alongside new pieces from our contemporary design partners.
Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.
Herman Miller Pop Up Shop
68 Wooster Street, Soho
New York, NY 10012
Charles Eames once said, “Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” More than words, the works of Charles and his wife Ray are an embodiment of that philosophy. Problem solving and innovation were their hallmarks, but the seed for every design began by recognizing a need.
Essential Eames is a traveling exhibition tracing the life and work of the Eameses. A collaboration between Herman Miller and the Eames office, the show invites visitors to dive into the many facets of Charles and Ray, from architecture to film, and from toys to products and furniture.
Beginning in Hong Kong as part of Herman Miller Reach, the successful exhibition has recently moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where will be open until June 22.