January 10, 2013
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.
December 11, 2012
How do you design a better patient chair? For us it began with conversations, more than 200 of them. We spoke with caregivers, patients, and other support personnel to find out what works and what doesn’t. We also consulted with ergonomists, physical therapists, and gerontologists to understand the recovery process. We learned a lot, and the resulting design became the Nala Chair.
Patients need to be comfortable—physically as well as emotionally. One way the Nala Chair addresses this is by mimicking the natural movement of a person’s body: tilting and pivoting at the ankle, knee, and hip. The motion of the chair is relaxed and controlled; heavier patients will not recline too quickly and lighter ones will not move forward too quickly. Nala’s arms, long and wide, provide patients with ample place to grip while getting in and out of the chair—ensuring patients feel secure.
For caregivers, transferring seated patients up and out of a chair can be a strenuous task. To assist them, Nala was designed with a leaf spring to reduce the physical effort needed to move a patient. To simplify cleaning, Nala was designed with sizeable gaps between components to minimize debris build-up. Resilient materials and finishes were selected to stand up to the rigors of healthcare environments.
We believe that design is a process that begins with people. That’s why we talk to the right people, ask lots of questions, and listen carefully to their answers. The results of these conversations, as in the case of Nala, can be comfortable and healthy.
January 24, 2012
More than ever, working together defines how we get things done. And more than ever, getting things done often takes just two people. Recent research we’ve conducted at companies around the world found that nearly half the time collaborative events involved two to three people.
But no matter the number of people collaborating, companies are committed to making it happen. One approach they’re taking is to give their employees flexible workspaces. In a recent survey, 50 percent of corporate real estate executives said this flexibility enables collaboration.
All this focus on collaboration shouldn’t obscure the fact that people also need privacy and freedom from interruption. Research also suggests that some people, and especially introverts, are more creative when they can work on their own. Maybe the best way to get the creativity we’re all after is to design places that give people more choices for when, where, and with whom they work.
Design, Education, Innovation
April 4, 2011
What was your college experience like? Ramen noodles for breakfast; Chock-a-block lecture halls; No class on Fridays. Am I alone here?
Well, some students are demanding more of their education and universities are stepping up, providing them an opportunity to work outside the traditional parameters of academia. Innovation centers give interdisciplinary teams of students a chance to tackle a project in which they design, fabricate, and test a prototype that solves a particular problem; sometimes in conjunction with for-profit companies.
No specified number of hours, no professor at a podium, no classroom—just a deadline and a problem to be solved. Which raises a problem: Your average classroom is not the highly flexible, dynamic space that will stimulate, support, and contribute to success of the young innovator. But, what is?
Looking to answer this question, Herman Miller convened a Leadership Roundtable to explore the innovation process and develop characteristics of creative spaces. Comprised of university innovation center leaders, national associations tracking educational innovation, and architects and designers, the group focused on several questions:
• What are the characteristics of an innovator?
• What are the barriers to creativity and innovation on campus?
• What attributes of creative environments that make them unique and supportive of the innovative mind?
The answers to these questions all touched on the type of space needed. Innovation centers require spaces that satisfy both the physical and psychological components of innovation. They have to be an ecosystem in which ideas can grow uniquely with each project.
Pictured: Prasad Boradkar, Director of InnovationSpace (a transdisciplinary laboratory at ASU).