Bill Stumpf once said, “I know this sounds terribly self serving, but I design for myself. Who else am I going to know better than me?”
The outcome of Stumpf’s self-described “selfishness”? Empathic designs that can help everyone feel better as they work.
Stumpf and design partner Jeff Weber turned their own problems with the lack of physical harmony between themselves and their computers into a solution that benefits people who sit all day at a computer. The resulting designs—the Embody Chair and the Envelop Desk—work together to support the wrists, back, and eyes as the sitter moves through a range of postures. This concept, which we call concordance, helps people stay healthy and aligned as they work.
Barry Sonnenfeld, director and Digital Man blogger, sits astride a wheeled saddle to scurry around film sets. Forget the clichéd canvas director’s chair, he cherishes his makeshift saddle-on-wheels, a creation of the Men in Black 2 crew that’s since been modified with “drawers for scripts, water, and prescription medication” for his sciatica.
Where he’s all about moving on the set, Billy Wilder, a director from an earlier generation who did films such as Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot, opted for catnaps on set. In 1955, while filming The Spirit of St. Louis, he started taking naps on a narrow plank held up by sawhorses. Wilder later told his friends Charles and Ray Eames he needed something similar—but a bit more comfortable—for his office.
They came up with a slender, armless chaise with a built-in wakeup call. It required Wilder to lie on his back with his arms folded over his chest. Once he dozed off, his arms relaxed, dropped to his side, and gently awakened him. We began making the chaise in 1968, and it’s been in the line ever since.
We’ve added other pieces in the ensuing years. And Sonnenfeld puts three of them through their paces in his search for the right furniture for working in the editing room: the Embody and Aeron chairs and the Envelop desk. Get his read on them, and then check them out for yourself.
Photo: Barry Sonnenfeld is an Emmy-winning television director and the director of Get Shorty and the upcoming Men in Black 3.
The Envelop desk has received considerable attention for its versatility and unique ability to move with the user. But what’s the best application for such a cutting-edge design? That’s the question we posed to interior designers in the Envelop Design Challenge—a competition Herman Miller initiated last December. The answer? Anywhere and everywhere.
Given the versatility of the Envelop desk, it was no surprise when we received over forty entries displaying the desk in myriad ways—ranging from private offices to group work settings to classrooms. With all of the great designs, it was a challenge in itself to choose the winners.
After considerable deliberation, our team of designers selected four winners who displayed the most creativity with their use of Envelop. Our first place winner, Angela Glenn, placed Envelop in a beautiful work environment by incorporating Teneo storage furniture and Meridian filing and storage (above).
In contrast, our two second place winners, Christa Markey and Gretel Lott, stepped out of the office environment: Christa brought Envelop into a campus coffee shop…
And Gretel built the desk into an air traffic control room.
Our third place winner, Susan Weisenfeld, used one kit of parts for two different types of workstations; both centered on the Envelop desk.
Check out The Be Collection to learn more about our winners and see renderings of these unique applications.
The 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) concluded on January 10 after four days of new product displays, conference sessions, and celebrity appearances. Over 2,500 technology companies gathered in Las Vegas, contributing to the record number of new exhibits at this year’s show. Even amidst all of the excitement among technology products, Herman Miller’s Envelop desk created quite a buzz.
Envelop, a desk that moves with the user as he or she reclines, was featured with the Embody chair. Envelop was well received by designers and users alike, drawing considerable media attention. Since its appearance at CES, Envelop has received excited reviews from multiple media sources, including the popular blogs Gizmodo, Uncrate, and PhotoInduced, for its ergonomic benefits and ability to comfortably cater to the user.
Envelop’s clever design ultimately has the user in mind. At CES 2010, they noticed.