Steve Frykholm has been a graphic designer for Herman Miller for over 40 years and has produced some of our most memorable graphic campaigns. Frykholm recently designed a poster to promote REACH and we’re thrilled he’ll be presenting a talk as a one of the special guest speakers on his very first visit to Hong Kong.
Could you tell us about the poster you designed for REACH in Hong Kong.
I really wanted the poster to have a strong connection between China and Herman Miller. The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is a strong symbol for Herman Miller, and a panda is a strong image for China. After doing my sketch of a panda relaxing in a lounge chair I knew it would be a strong poster. I hope people enjoy it as much as I enjoyed designing it.
The George Nelson led graphic design campaigns must have been a hard act to follow. How have those who’ve come before you influenced your work?
Charles and Ray Eames and the designers who worked for them and George Nelson gave me a wonderful legacy of exceptional work. I believe their work established an atmosphere at Herman Miller to do original and creative work. That’s the kind of work I enjoy doing, so it wasn’t a hard act to follow. Rather than being intimidating, I was energized.
What role does a designer play in Herman Miller ?
Early in our history Gilbert Rhode, the Eameses, George Nelson, Alexander Girard, and Bob Propst taught Herman Miller leaders about design, and its problem-solving ability. Their work gave Herman Miller a very good reputation. Our leaders encourage and support designers to do what we do best – design. Today we’d say brand awareness is enhanced by doing good design in products, environments, and graphics. Today’s designers are teachers too, and we continue to learn from them. There is an openness and trust between our designers and the company allowing good work to happen.
You’ve been recognized with a number awards, including the AIGA Gold Medal. What stands out as your most satisfying achievement?
It is the AIGA Medal, but other recognition is very satisfying as well. I’ve received the Carl F. Frost Award in 1986, Herman Miller’s highest recognition for an employee. I’ve been recognized as an annual report legend in Graphis and an American Design icon in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Communication Arts. Having several of my posters in the design collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art is also rewarding.
This post first ran on our Asia Pacific blog. If you happen to be in the region REACH is being held in Hong Kong on the 16-17 September 2011, visit the REACH website for full details and to book tickets to hear Steve Frykholm speak.