Asked how to measure a designer’s impact on society, Bruce Burdick, a designer himself, replied: “A designer’s influence on public opinion comes down to how the public utilizes their designs. They influence people’s perceptions of what a car, a desk, your clothing, or your house can be.” To this he added, “It’s the highest order of design to squeeze function and pleasure together so tightly that a person cannot separate them.”
Burdick established his reputation by pioneering the use of computers in exhibition design. Two of his exhibits, one on nutrition and the other on economics, are on permanent display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
For Herman Miller, Burdick challenged the very notion of what people thought office furniture could be. By designing a flexible system based on a central rail, Burdick allowed various elements—display, storage, work surfaces, and ergonomic tools—to be arranged and rearranged, creating infinite configurations and responding to individual ways of working. Named the Burdick Group, the system was ahead of its time and earned Burdick recognition from the Institute of Business Designers, the Industrial Designers Society of America, and Time magazine.
Drawing 680 galleries, 2,000 artists, and more than 50,000 collectors from around the globe, Art Basel Miami Beach is one of the world’s premier art shows. If you’re an art lover, it’s the place to see works from cutting-edge newcomers alongside pieces by renowned artists.
For the second year in a row, we were the show’s exclusive furniture sponsor. Across the venue—in lounges, restaurants, and VIP areas—people took a break from browsing art and enjoyed furniture from the Herman Miller Collection.
Also on display at Art Basel was a sneak peek of Then X Ten, a traveling exhibition celebrating Herman Miller’s rich history of poster design.
Art Basel was December 6-8, 2012. Couldn’t make it? Check us out on Facebook for more photos from the event.
His design for Spun—a chair shaped like a spinning top that tilts and turns with the sitter’s movement—is emblematic of the fanciful yet functional designs in London-based architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick’s portfolio: the Olympic Cauldron at the 2012 London games, a double decker bus, also for London, and Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan Hotel.
When asked to design a structure for the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, Heatherwick created the Seed Cathedral—sixty thousand fiber-optic “hairs” protruding from a circular steel and timber composite structure. While some consider the structure—which looks like a giant, glowing hedgehog—simply another example of Heatherwick’s whimsical approach to design, the artist is quick to point out that the piece is actually quite serious.
“Is my studio’s work playful or is everyone else’s work too serious?” says Heatherwick in an interview with Architectural Digest. “And actually, Seed Cathedral was serious. With 60,000 varieties of seeds, it was the most biodiverse thing in Shanghai, or the whole region.”
Considering Heatherwick’s belief that good design strikes a balance between gravity and levity, it’s little wonder that Spun challenges the traditional notion of a chair and turns sitting into an experience.
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
Today marks the opening of the Herman Miller Pop Up Shop at 68 Wooster Street in the heart of Soho in New York City. Designed to highlight the new Herman Miller Collection, the shop features richly detailed furniture vignettes with accessories and objects to complement. Each is created to tell design stories past and present. We invite you to add the shop to your itinerary if you travel to Manhattan between now and July 1. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm, and Sunday 12 noon to 5 pm. View directions and map
The George Nelson X-leg table, selected by BassamFellows to join the Herman Miller Collection.
Serving as the Creative Directors of Herman Miller’s Specialty and Consumer division since 2010, BassamFellows’ Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows have been part of the brain trust curating the Herman Miller Collection. “We teach each other new things,” says Fellows. “We’re learning a lot about industrial production at a large scale, and they’re [Herman Miller] learning from us that hand or touch, the little details, that make all the difference.”
Giving life to George Nelson’s concept of the living room and the work room melding together have had BassamFellows looking through the old catalogs and designs to identify pieces and get them to the people. The collection features many well-loved pieces such as Nelson’s X- leg table and Eames chairs reinvented in new materials.
The Herman Miller Collection celebrates the past and present with more than 200 products. Added to this will be new furniture and accessories from today’s most talented designers.
The Collection will be making its first public display in the Herman Miller Pop Up Shop designed by BassamFellow. Located in the heart of New York City’s Soho district, the Pop Up Shop will open May 9 and run through July 1, 2012.
What is ailing in fine furnishings? “Nature,” answers design duo Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows. “I really feel that a connection to nature is what makes Modernism human,” says Bassam, who sees their work as an antidote to novelty-driven and mass-produced design.
Principally made from hand-finished wood, brass, and leather, furniture designed by BassamFellows follows their belief in “core luxury values”: honesty of material, solidity of construction; utility and beauty without elaboration. With the Tuxedo lounge seating, part of the Herman Miller Collection, the goal remains the same: an attention to luxury detail that doesn’t compete with the rest of the room.
“My chairs are always pared down to the minimum—no tricks, nothing clever… I have no interest in making chairs look like baseball gloves or hands….” Pointed questions such as, “Does it allow the user to find his or her own perfect pitch?” and “Is it easy and safe to get in and out? “ are among those behind Ward Bennett’s trademark minimalism. His attention to key factors of comfort and functionality are the backbone— pun intended—behind his minimalist style that consistently answered those ergonomic questions.
The idea of the Herman Miller Collection is not entirely new. In his introduction to our 1952 catalog, George Nelson wrote of “the continuing creation of a permanent collection designed to meet fully the requirements for modern living.” Nelson established a program and a philosophy for the Collection that allows us to continue it today.
The Collection began with classic pieces from the Herman Miller’s archives that have stood the test of the time. We then added complementary furnishings from our partners, such as Magis and Mattiazzi. Most importantly, we are developing new designs with today’s most talented designers. Each piece will present a solution that is as purposeful as it is beautiful.
The Herman Miller Collection will preview at Art Basel Miami Beach, where we are the exclusive furniture sponsor. More to come in Spring 2012.
The work of Konstantin Grcic is known for its logical thought process, honesty of materials, and respect for production methods. His partnership with Magis led to one of the most interesting and inventive chairs ever created: Chair_One. “This was a wonderful project to work on,” says Grcic, admitting that his relative youth (and naïveté) led him down unexplored pathways with eyes wide open.
“This was possibly the first time ever that such a large die-cast was used for making a chair,” he explains. “It involved a lot of heavy tooling. I decided to break up surfaces into thin sections like branches and let the material flow through the mold to create the shape, which is kind of like a basket or a grid, and very three-dimensional.”
Chair_One now resides in the permanent collections of many prestigious museums including MoMA in New York and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. It joins other Grcic pieces in museum permanent collection, including his Mayday Lamp, produced for Flos in 1999.