January 12, 2012
Late last year the Herman Miller team attended Art Basel in Miami. We were the furniture sponsor for the event which meant all the restaurants and bar areas were awash in our designs. We also had a booth devoted entirely to Eames pieces that was graced with a drawing by Ray Eames.
The drawing was of the room that she and Charles designed for Alexander Girard’s “An Exhibition of Modern Living” (catalog below). The show was commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Arts in late 1949 and Ray’s drawing for their “room” depicts a wonderfully colorful space complete with totem-like sculpture, an Eames table and molded plywood chairs. It was also the first public glimpse of the Eames Storage Units which today find their way into many a home office.
Photo: Randall Ross / modernism101.com
Our booth for Art Basel was designed by Herman Miller Creative Directors Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows. “We wanted an artful graphic for our space and we loved the idea that Ray Eames created it as a collage to illustrate a display space,” says Bassam. “Our display booth was also done to show an important point of history for Herman Miller. It’s important to remember where these pieces we’ve used throughout Art Basel’s public spaces came from.”
Bassam also stressed the importance of showing art. “We were part of Art Basel so we also thought it important to show art which we feel is an important link to the artful background of Herman Miller. Showrooms and displays were well known for their use of art and combinations of objects. So, we just couldn’t have a dry corporate graphic!”
Above: Ray Eames at her Case Study home with models of the sculpture similar to the ones in her drawing for the “Modern Living” exhibition.
But there’s more to this image that initially meets the eye. “Note it was the first time the public would see the model of the Eames La Chaise, which Charles and Ray designed for MOMA’s Low Cost Furniture Competition,” says Daniel Ostroff, editor of EamesDesigns.com. ”If you look closely at the drawing the faintest outline of it is shown in the foreground, which is where it was actually placed in the exhibition room.” You can hear Ostroff talk about the La Chaise here.
December 2, 2011
I met Eames Demetrios at the art collector’s lounge this morning. He’d just checked in and had a chance to take a quick look around the fair. He was amazed at how many Herman Miller pieces were dotted around the vast hall.
“There are so many booths that have Eames pieces in them,” said Demetrios. “You expect the plastic chairs but there are DCMs and they are serious chairs to drag around a big space when you don’t have to…I think it’s great.”
Adam Call (the Herman Miller Collection Lead) and I headed out to the floor to do a bit of furniture spotting ourselves and Eames was absolutely right. We were everywhere. As Call said this may very well be our first year here but it looks like we were at Art Basel even before we were at Art Basel!
Top: Eames Molded Plastic Chairs in white with wire bases and art still waiting to be hung. Above: A Nelson Swag Leg Work Table hard at work.
Balance, Design, Products
December 1, 2011
The private art collector’s lounge and both public restaurants at this year’s Art Basel | Miami are populated with over 650 pieces from the Herman Miller Collection. You’ll find our brilliantly upholstered Eames dining chairs in pink and orange, the Eames Lounge Chair in white leather and creamy ash along with Noguchi’s iconic coffee table – with an ash base. Tuxedo sofas have been covered in a luxurious wool Girard fabric and they share the floor with crisp Nelson Coconut Chairs in black and white. And our new Magis pieces – Konstantin Grcic’s sculptural Chair One and Stool One are casting beautiful shadows all over the lounge area. It all feels just right for this buzzy fair – a celebration of the contemporary art scene with 260 galleries from all over the globe representing over 2000 artists.
From a Lifework perspective it is wonderful to see people “work” the fair. One man sank into an Eames Lounge Chair and pulled out his iPad and began furiously typing. A photographer spread out on the Tuxedo sofa and started downloading images to a laptop perched on the Noguchi.
Jack Schreur, Vice President of The Herman Miller Collection wandered the halls with me this morning before the crowds arrived. “The big theme is this - this is not about what used to be. Our presence here is about taking some of the most amazing pieces of furniture in the world and contemporizing them, showing how they live and work today. We arrange our technology around us instead of the other way around - it fundamentally opens up opportunities for all of this great furniture. It didn’t work great when you had to put an IBM Selectric out there to do your work but now … look at this.” Schreur points to a group leaning over a laptop, each perched comfortably on a Setu chair upholstered in deep red.
Look out for more Art Basel and Design Miami coverage over the next few days.