June 6, 2012
Graphic designer Bryan Patrick Todd finds inspiration a plenty in Louisville, Kentucky, where he specializes in branding and design. A mere glance at his bold yet clean work — which includes everything from posters, to murals, to logos and more — demonstrates his affinity for typography and color. With such a passion for vibrant, well-crafted forms and shapes, we wondered what kind of musical inspiration was at work behind the scenes. Our wonderment is answered in this week’s wondrous Playlist.
Balance, Design, Products
February 14, 2012
Use these picks in Valentine’s Day’s signature color to inspire your space all year long. Read more
January 26, 2012
For the past few weeks Susan Lyons, our Materials Creative Director, has covered Herman Miller’s five material design principles over on our Discover blog. We’ve heard about honesty, utility, economy, pleasure, and possibility and the role these principles play in helping us choose the materials for our designs.
One principle is particularly relevant to Lifework readers: It’s the idea of utility. Lyons talks about utility in connection to Embody – a chair that finds its way into many a home office. “When we talk about material utility,” Lyons says, “what we really mean is that we use materials to solve problems.”
To hear Lyons talk about the rest of the principles simply follow these links: honesty, economy, pleasure, possibility.
To find a home office chair check out our tips on how to choose the right one for you. (And FYI – we’re now shipping our most popular office chairs for $29. Read all about that here.)
December 18, 2011
Just in case you missed this one we wanted to point out that Frank Sinatra’s Farralone Estate is up for sale. It’s listed at $12 million. The modernist house was completed in 1951 by Pereira & Luckman – the architects behind The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Kennedy Center. You can check out the slideshow here…keep an eye out for the Eames chairs (here’s a hint – they are in the guest house!) You can also check out a slideshow put together by Forbes magazine here.
Balance, Design, Products
November 3, 2011
New York-based architect Deborah Berke shares her busy life for this week’s Q+A. Berke is a professor of architectural design at Yale University and author and co-editor of several books, including The Architecture of the Everyday. The work of her award winning firm – Deborah Berke & Partners Architects – has appeared in numerous publications as diverse as Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and Remodelista. Today Berke gives us a look at her residential projects and a peek into her work space.
Balance, Design, Products
October 31, 2011
This interview with Gabe Wing, who is a key member of our sustainable design team, marks the beginning of a green week here on Lifework. The company recently released our Better World Report at Greenbuild and it inspired me to look more closely at all things green here at Herman Miller. What do we mean by green? I think founder D.J. De Pree put it beautifully back in 1953 when he said “We will be a good steward of the environment.”
That commitment to good stewardship hit new heights in the late 90s with the work of Gabe Wing and Scott Charon. Under their watchful leadership Design for the Environment (DfE) protocol was born.
Studio 7.5′s Mirra Chair was the first piece to find itself under the bright lights of Wing and Charon’s new guidelines. Was that a smooth process? Bill Birchard in his book Merchants of Virtue tracks the development of the chair as it faced resistance from within the company by people under pressure to meet deadlines and budgets. Mirra’s initial design garnered a DfE score of 63 percent. After serious work and much heated debate it hit 80 percent on completion with 96 percent of the pieces that make up the chair being recyclable.
We’re also proud of the fact that we’ve reduced the shipping times for most Mirra models. When you order Mirra through the Herman Miller store most models will now be shipped within five days.
And while you’re waiting we’ll send you a copy of Birchard’s Merchant of Virtue so you can read some more (this is for store orders only). Birchard has written a really compelling book – and I know it’s about our company but I just finished the book and it certainly doesn’t sugar coat how hard it is to honor De Pree’s commitment to being good environmental stewards. It’s a frank look at what it takes to run a successful company that takes its environmental responsibility seriously.
Above: Gabe Wing, left and Scott Charon at Herman Miller headquarters.
We went to Wing to find out more about Mirra and the role it played in our ongoing commitment to sustainability.
1. The Mirra was the first design to be impacted by the environmental standards you were setting up back in 2003. What obstacles did you face getting the design to meet the new standards? The big obstacles were in obtaining detailed chemical formulations on all of the materials used in the chair down to 0.01%. This is like going to Coca-cola and asking for their secret recipe. It is easier now since our suppliers understand our design for the environment process but it was difficult in the beginning. Also we needed to develop alternatives to materials that we had used for decades like PVC used in arm pads.
2. Tell us about collaborating with Studio 7.5 who designed the chair. How did that process work? Working with Studio 7.5 was great. Very early on in the project, we shared our sustainable design protocol with them. We explained our focus on safe chemistry, designing for disassembly, recyclability and recycled content. They were already thinking in these terms. Working with our engineering team, they helped create what was called by Bill McDonough, “the most compete and thorough example of Cradle to Cradle design.” (Need to lookup actual quote. )
3. How did the work of Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart ( of MBDC) support and feed the work you were doing? C2C is one of the key tools we use as part of our sustainable design process. Working together with Bill and Michael, we embedded the principles of C2C into the development process that launched Mirra. We were struggling to find a replacement for PVC in the arm pads. The project team was dealing with a shrinking schedule and wanted to launch with PVC and fix it later. A visit from Bill inspired the team to find a solution which led to a material breakthrough and allowed the chair to launch on time.
4. You were brought on at Herman Miller to develop and launch Design for the Environment protocol. What was your background? I have a BS and an MS in chemical engineering. I spent the first 8 years of my career working in various roles in the plastics industry. I have been with HMI for 10 years, as part of our sustainable design team. My background in polymer science has been very helpful as we work with our suppliers to develop more sustainable materials.
5. Which chair do you sit in at work? I sit in an C-size Aeron chair at home and at work. I am fairly tall and find that I am just outside 95% size that Mirra was designed for.
October 24, 2011
We came across Elizabeth Roberts, who runs her design practice from her home in Brooklyn, on Remodelista back in February. Here Roberts talks about her work, how she found herself studying architecture at Berkeley to opening up her own practice after working at William Turnbull in Northern California and Beyer Blinder Belle in New York.
1. You are a designer based in New York. Tell us about your background. What led you into this field? In high school I thought about going into architecture. A friend of my mother’s who was an enviably strong woman and feminist suggested that it was a great field for women. Everyone in my family were doctors so in my sophomore year in college I told my mother I’d finally decided to declare my major as “pre-med”. She was silent and finally she blurted out that she’d hoped I would do something with my creative abilities. That summer I spent as an intern at an architecture firm and I studied art in Paris during my Junior year. When I finally decided to study architecture my mother was the one who helped me apply to transfer to UC Berkeley while I was in Paris –I will always appreciate that encouragement from her!
After I graduated I ended up in New York City. It was a recession and there weren’t many jobs out there. One of my professors who I had worked with at William Turnbull Associates suggested that I specialize in Historic Preservation. It made sense. I had spent a few summers as a “site architect” at a dig in Crete and was interested in architectural history. I’m glad that I followed his advice, mostly because I ended up in New York and haven’t left ever since…
2. Your work exudes a warm minimalism and I think part of that is your use of timber in your projects -whether it be a beautiful wood dining table or kitchen island. How would you describe your style? Are you conscious of keeping spaces spare but soft-edged? Yes, I think one of the things that is very important to me is to “showcase” certain elements in a space –to allow enough space and “quiet” around an object for it to be seen. That often translates into wood against a painted surface, or a colorful item beside a white surface.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
October 13, 2011
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Metropolis magazine for their multimedia section. Check out the photo essay by Michael Wolf titled Transparent City - makes me glad to work from home!
2. Domus for their amazing website – go straight to the architecture section for some wonderful residential and commercial projects.
3. New York Times for their interview with the authors of the new Unhappy Hipsters book It’s Lonely in the Modern World.
October 11, 2011
It’s all about design right now in Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is a Getty-backed initiative celebrating art and design from the 1930s through to the 1980s in Los Angeles. There are over 60 exhibitions from San Diego to Santa Barbara and that doesn’t include the multitude of private galleries also showing work.
Where to start? LACMA has outdone itself with curator Wendy Kaplan’s ambitious “California Design: Living in a Modern Way.” This is the show that includes the reconstructed Eames living room. The whole show houses around 350 objects—furniture, ceramics, fashion, textiles graphic design and includes Herman Miller pieces that are still in production like the Eames Elliptical table and the Eames Storage Unit. This exhibition, which is the first major show to look at mid century modern design attracted over 1500 people to the opening night reception.
Photos: Cerentha Harris and Stefanie Keenan
October 3, 2011
Italian architect Stefano Giovannoni is a prolific designer with interests that span not just the world of furniture but also digital design. Above he is photographed with a tablet he designed for Alessi. It’s an interactive multimedia device dubbed alessiTab that lives in the kitchen and connects you to everything from your favorite recipes to online food stores.
Giovannoni is probably best known for his iconic Bombo stool. Its soft organic seat is formed with injection-molded plastic sprouting from a chrome stem and base. Using advances in that same air-molding technology Giovannoni designed Chair First. This time there was no chrome. The whole chair is one durable, sturdy, lightweight piece of plastic that is 100% recyclable. For all its elegant simplicity of form it is a major breakthough in chair design – hence the name Chair First.
For more on Giovannoni check out the post over on Discover.
Herman Miller + Magis: Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic