“Let the material be itself and do what it does best,” explains designer and Herman Miller Creative Director, Susan Lyons. Material honesty is about being true to the natural attributes of a material and taking full advantage of its capabilities.
The Eames molded plywood lounge chair (LCW), as Lyons mentions, is an example of this philosophy at work. The lounge, crafted from molded plywood and left uncovered, allows the wood’s natural beauty to shine. Combined with a sculpted form designed to the contours of the human body, the LCW has a utilitarian elegance that rightly earned it the distinction of Best Design of the 20th century by Time magazine.
Honesty is one of five material design principles Lyons and Herman Miller live by: honesty, utility, economy, pleasure, and possibility.
Five principles guide Lyon’s work as our Materials Creative Director: honesty, utility, economy, pleasure, and possibility. Each is essential when creating innovative products and environments.
Susan Lyons got her start printing “artsy” t-shirts for a college fundraising project which caught the attention of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, who later ordered 200 of them.
As her career grew, Lyons’ passion for textiles turned towards sustainability. “Spending my days in the [textile] factory made me realize how much I enjoyed the process of making. I had this idea that we could make things more intelligently, more green,” she said. Working with other environmental advocates, Lyons developed an award-winning collection of cradle-to-cradle compostable textiles.
At Herman Miller, Lyons has her hands in nearly every project. From color palettes to textiles and materials, she works with our other designers to make sure every design is just right.