March 21, 2011
Recently, North Central College featured the work they are doing in partnership with Herman Miller and Widmer Interiors. Nine professors and their students are participating in the Learning Spaces Research Pilot program that incorporates the latest thinking in teaching spaces.
Whether it is the unique space compared to other classrooms on campus, the adaptable furnishings and flexible configurations, or the freedom to use technology unconfined, it has the campus talking.
Photo courtesy of North Central College
Design, Products, What's Up
March 16, 2011
Many of us have lived this story: a parent or other loved ones who want nothing more than to stay in their own home as they age. The issue is gaining attention because the first 70 million Baby Boomers hit 65 years old in 2011. Their home-related needs will have a significant impact on home and product design.
That impact is explored in an exhibition called “Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future” at the University of Minnesota’s Goldstein Museum of Design in St. Paul. It will be on display until May 22, 2011. The exhibition explores the housing trend of “aging in place,” which allows people to stay in their home by using products with adaptive technologies and by making simple adjustments to their living environment.
Featured in the exhibition is Mobilegs, from Mobi, an innovative mobility device developer in Minneapolis. Mobilegs is a breakthrough in crutch design that makes it easier, safer, and more comfortable to get around. It’s designed by Jeff Weber of Studio Weber + Associates. He also designed Herman Miller’s Embody chairs, Caper chairs, and Envelop desk, which are among the products featured in the Smart House as well.
February 23, 2011
I recently participated in the Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) Learning Spaces Collaboratory roundtable event at Herman Miller’s Los Angeles showroom. Herman Miller was a co-sponsor for the event facilitated by PKAL’s Jeanne Narum and Herman Miller’s Susan Whitmer and Bob Cox.
For more than two decades, PKAL has been one of the leading advocates in the U.S. for building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The event brought together a mix of architects, interior designers, and scholars who understand that a great learning experience isn’t only about the instructor, course content, or even the subject. An innovative, inspiring environment is paramount and a fundamental element in the overall curriculum.
February 17, 2011
Innovation spaces are a relatively new phenomenon on college campuses. Often called Innovation Centers, they function outside the traditional parameters of the school calendar, taking interdisciplinary groups of students through rigorous projects in which they design, fabricate, and test a prototype that solves an assigned problem. The centers are not classrooms, but highly flexible, dynamic spaces that must meet a wide variety of demands, often on a 24/7 schedule.
Students work in groups in a designated place. There are no set hours, but rather a time frame within which a project needs to be completed. The student who gravitates toward this learning experience is moving away from the traditional instruction paradigm toward a more creative, self controlled experience that emphasizes experimentation, encourages learning by doing, and fosters creativity.
Because we believe the physical environment can nurture creativity and serve as a catalyst for innovation, we recently hosted a roundtable with leaders of innovation spaces on college campuses from across the country. During the session we focused on the key characteristics of great innovation spaces, which we defined as spaces that support collaboration, alone/heads-down time, formal and informal instruction, communication, and rest.
Earlier this week during a session at ELI 2011, we shared these characteristics with a group of our fellow Educause members. They added the characteristics of openness, access, and visibility to this list.
A key conclusion from both groups: space and the elements in it really do matter.
Education, What's Up
January 24, 2011
That’s the question Herman Miller is asking full-time students attending 2-or 4-year colleges or universities in the U.S. and Canada* for our second annual video contest. We’re encouraging them to document the places where they connect, recharge, study, and socialize on campus.
We’re hoping to see a variety of entries that are creative, fun, or serious—all from the perspective of students. The results will help promote discussion among higher education professionals about the rapidly changing needs of students and how higher education facilities can respond to those needs.
Plus, the top three entries will receive cash prizes.
Want to learn more? Check out the contest website and you’ll find everything you need to know.
* Students in the province of Quebec are excluded from participation in the contest.
Design, Education, What's Up
December 17, 2010
Back in the 1970s, Max DePree (who was our CEO then) invited management guru Peter Drucker to talk to his management team many times. De Pree and Drucker forged a friendship based on mutual respect and similar ideas about why innovation and values were important. They also felt strongly that it was in a company’s best interest to help the people who work there realize their potential. It was the beginning of an enduring relationship between Herman Miller, Inc., Drucker, and eventually the Drucker Institute, a think-tank formed in 2006 to further Drucker’s ideas.
When the Institute decided to redesign its office space, it turned to Herman Miller. The Institute wanted a flexible space that would improve communication and support collaboration. Their new offices don’t have any walls, a move that encourages what Drucker called “sideways communication.” Furniture is on casters, so reconfiguring it is a snap. And the perimeter walls have been painted with Idea Paint, a paint that turns surfaces into marker boards.
The new office space is “the perfect blend of form and function,” writes Institute Director Rick Wartzman in his own piece about the project. Clearly, the Drucker/Herman Miller connection is still a synergistic one.
Better World, Education
December 3, 2010
Herman Miller is celebrating the holiday season with its first book drive campaign. You can’t miss it—literally. Bright red Meridian bookcases are appearing at locations all over the country, including our six West Michigan facilities, participating dealerships, and more than 30 higher education campuses.
Education Solutions Director Jeff Vredevoogd came up with the idea to collect and provide books to local nonprofit organizations that want to share the gift of reading. The bookcase is part of the donation, too.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity that’s bringing together businesses, students, and faculty to create a better world for their communities,” he says.
Want to donate a book? You can make a donation to an organization, such as Better World Books, between now and December 15, 2010.
Education, What's Up
November 9, 2010
A few weeks ago I attended Educause, a conference that encapsulates the best thinking in higher education IT. A highlight for me was participating in a session focused on seeking evidence of the impact of learning space design.
The majority of the session was spent in small group discussion focusing on this question: What evidence do we have that change and innovation are having the impact we hope for? Given the investments colleges and universities are making in their learning spaces, it’s a question that requires an answer. Collectively the participants established the need for complimentary quantitative and qualitative data with the type of data being highly dependent on the situation.
Two of the people in my discussion group represented schools that have participated in Herman Miller’s Learning Studio Research Pilot program: Butler Community College and Estrella Mountain Community College. The pilot program provides the opportunity for schools to test new learning spaces and evaluate the results before making a significant commitment within an entire building. For both schools, the results of the pilot have been significant, from both a quantitative and qualitative standpoint.
August 9, 2010
Some top-flight universities, including the University of Notre Dame, have long recognized the latent market potential in the labor of their researchers. They now are proactively creating an environment where that potential can blossom.
Innovation Park at Notre Dame is one place where that alchemy happens. Innovation Park is a businesslike three-story building across the street from university’s campus and within sight of its golden dome. It contains labs, offices, and all the support services to transform a bright idea into a viable business. The building is intended to be bright and open, mobile and versatile.
The Greenhouse, for example, is the first-floor space where people meet, ideas collide, and the most tender businesses take root. “Virtually everything is on wheels,” says Dave Brenner, CEO of Innovation Park.
Taking flexibility to the max, the Greenhouse not only is outfitted with Herman Miller’s most mobile furniture, it also is equipped with a “programmable infrastructure,” which gives the user ultimate control over lights, outlets, data and power, and even the window shades, from a personal computer or a two-button wand. The result is a space with enormous flexibility and the capability to reduce energy costs.
Education, What's Up
July 30, 2010
Herman Miller’s Education Solutions team recently asked students to provide feedback about where they learn best so that it could help higher education institutions better accommodate learning styles. The contest made me wonder where I learn best. I’m a college senior and I’m constantly looking for a place to study.
The desk in my dorm room now is stored in the dorm’s basement to make room for a couch and coffee table. And if I’m not studying in my dorm room (sans desk), I’m usually at a nearby coffee shop for the Wi-Fi, caffeine, and comfy seating. It’s a great place for study breaks, which often involve listening to music and catching-up with friends.
I also like to study at the campus library, especially during finals week. Its rooms and desks, however, quickly fill-up during this time frame, with other students quietly cramming for their exams or writing their last research paper for the semester. This isn’t the time for being distracted by Facebook or socializing with roommates.
These locations each serve different student needs, so how should colleges and universities adapt to these needs? Several campuses across the country are creating multi-functional spaces, which is a step in the right direction—as long as they have moveable desks.