Any designer will tell you, including Yves Béhar of fuseproject, that designing a chair is a formidable task, and an appealing one. As this clip from the Wall Street Journal notes, the appeal is particularly strong for architects. That’s because, according to Barry Bergdoll, curator at MoMA, a chair “makes space, it has support, so in the end the chair is architecture.” Like architecture, chairs are so visible, our relationship to them so intimate, that designing them can give pause.
Béhar, an industrial designer, sought inspiration for his design of the SAYL chair from a very architectural form: suspension bridges. For Béhar, the project had appeal and risk. He says, “I practiced for more than a decade and waited to tackle the work chair. And it is only after turning 40 that I feel ready for such an epic design challenge.” Part of the challenge, says Béhar, lies in the fact that “every part serves a structural or tactile purpose. Every part is about creating comfort while needing to be visually cohesive and beautiful.”
An element of risk, certainly, but ah the rewards. And it’s especially gratifying when others recognize the achievement, in SAYL’s case the latest coming from IDEA.
“As Charles Eames said, Herman Miller should make ‘the best for the most for the least,’” says Susan Lyons, design consultant for Herman Miller’s Materials Program—now one-year old. “So let’s call this the year of Grades 1 and 2.”
“We have been working hard to design and develop innovative materials that are both purposeful and beautiful, as well as low cost.”
The work has paid off with great reviews. In fact, the program received a Silver award from the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA, sponsored by Business Week) in the Design Strategy category.
Developed by the Michael McGinn Design Office, the Materials Program consists of two equally important components:
• The Materials Collection: physical sampling to be seen and touched.
• The Online Materials Program: a website to explore and understand our materials and their application.
“The starting point of Teneo,” say designers Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck, “was challenging the storage archetype and saying, ‘Well, why can’t we do this any other way?’” They answered their question by looking at storage from an entirely new perspective. This year, Teneo storage furniture earned the coveted Gold award from the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in the Office and Productivity category.