February 4, 2010
The famous photograph of the Herman Miller designers and founder DJ De Pree has always intrigued me (from left top row: Robert Probst, DJ De Pree and Charles Eames. And seated, Alexander Girard, George Nelson and Ray Eames). I love the camaraderie captured. I’m sure it wasn’t always there! But for a split second a real joy was captured. I’ve always wondered who took the photograph? It’s a very interesting story. The official photographer that day was Judith Olausen (her image is above). She’s shot a lot for Herman Miller and I’ve been in email contact with her. Judith generously offered to scan the negs from the shoot. I’m excited to see these shots. I’ll post those all as soon as they come in!
According to our archivist, Linda Baron, the photographer who took the image of everyone laughing (below) is Melissa Brown. The story goes that there was a break in the shoot and they were all joking around when Melissa snapped this shot. I’m yet to track down Melissa (anyone got any leads there?)
February 2, 2010
Once you start looking you see Herman Miller pieces everywhere. This is the first in an occasional series where we will cover all the places we’ve spotted the good stuff. Let me know if you find anything. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modern Findings: cat on a hot Eames rocker.
Curbly: Plastolux posts his home office complete with Aeron chair and vintage George Nelson desk.
Mark Wentzel: Those lovely fat Eames chairs. I know Mark made them in 2009 but I only just discovered them and I think they deserve a bit more attention.
Notcot: A chocolate Eames house. OK, again this was published a while ago but I bet a lot of you missed it. Canadian magazine The Block commissioned chocolate guru Thomas Haas to make the classic 1949 Eames Case Study house.
Apartment Therapy: Where’s the connection here? Well, the bunny is called Eames. And that’s it really. Although we did start with a cat. Get the full story on Pawesome.
January 27, 2010
Sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi and George Nelson, Herman Miller’s first director of design, were long-time friends. Once, Nelson wandered into Noguchi’s studio just off Washington Square in New York City. He found the designer hard at work on a birthday present for his sister. Nelson liked the organic shape that Noguchi had cut from a piece of scavenged glass for a top, and the table base—two identical pieces of wood fitted together by a single pin. Nelson suggested that they take the design to Herman Miller, which has been producing the table for over 50 years.
January 19, 2010
George Nelson designed this Michigan home for Hugh De Pree in 1946.
Who is Hugh? Hugh was a son of Herman Miller’s founder DJ De Pree and CEO of the company from 1962 to 1980. This was also the period in which charismatic designer George Nelson worked as Herman Miller’s creative director (1945 – 1972). Nelson was not only busy designing for the company – he also designed Hugh’s Zeeland, Michigan home. The 3,000 square foot house built for Hugh and his wife Ruth in 1946 (Hugh was vice president at the time). Nelson also designed the 1961 additions that included a sunken living room and interior courtyard.
A recent visit to the archives, which are an absolute treasure trove of material, found these images taken by an unknown photographer. The home is still standing and has changed hands out of the family since Hugh’s death in 2002. The current owners, Richard and Cheryl Van Oss, bought the house in June 2004 and spent a year renovating it. The Van Osses moved into the house in May 2005 adding vintage and new Herman Miller pieces – including a 1954 bedroom suite designed by George Nelson. They certainly have a great respect for the Nelson legacy and have documented their restoration of the house. For a wonderful insider’s tour click here. And for more on Nelson click here.
These photos are from the Herman Miller archives.
January 5, 2010
“Type A” is the polite term people use to describe me. (I’ll leave the less flattering alternatives to your imagination.) I like to think of myself as organized, and so the first piece of furniture I purchased for my new home office is this fantastic file cabinet from Muji. This Japanese company has built its reputation on using earth-friendly, innovative materials. The file cabinet is made from powder-coated steel (a virtually pollution-free process resulting in a super durable product), and gets top marks for simplicity of design. I love that it fits under most desks, including the walnut veneer work table by George Nelson that I have my eye on.
Design, Products, Trends
December 28, 2009
Designer Shelly Klein chose an Eames Elliptical table for her living room. Via Design*Sponge
Everyone puts their feet on the coffee table – whether we admit it or not! When you’re working from the couch where else are you going to put your feet? Here are five hard working coffee tables that can take a little foot action. It’s also a great time of year to consider a big purchase – take advantage of all those sales!
1. Elliptical table by Ray and Charles Eames for Herman Miller. It comes in black or white and it may sound counterintuitive but white is a better choice here as it doesn’t show marks like the black one (I’ve got a white one and seven years of hard use – including kids jumping on it – has left only the normal signs of wear and tear.)
2. Room & Board’s Bradshaw table. This is a great sturdy choice if you are looking for something circular with a midcentury modern aesthetic.
3. Herman Miller’s Nelson Platform bench. George Nelson designed this versatile piece of furniture in 1946 and the crisp timber lines still look great today.
4. The Barbarella table. The clever designers at Blu Dot produced this thoroughly modern take on the coffee table.
5. DWR’s clean-lined Cubo is ready for feet and also has a clever concealed storage option in the leg (it’s lined in a lovely red leather).
December 21, 2009
Designer Todd Oldham has come up with the perfect child’s gift – a craft book (Ammo Books) that engages all of us. And best of all it is inspired by some of Herman Miller’s favorite designers. I asked Todd about Kid Made Modern…
In Kid Made Modern you’ve got over 50 craft projects for children inspired by designers like Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Noguchi – all of whom have a strong connection to Herman Miller. What draws you to these designers? When we started out conceptualizing the book we knew we wanted it to be equal parts of how-to projects, art technique essays and love letters to our favourite artists that contributed to the mid- century aesthetic.
I am not terribly interested in the idea of nostalgia or vintage notions but what I do find fascinating about this group of artists is the spectacular communication of their ideas and the desire to connect. They were real artists exploring new ideas that resonate still today.
We chose a cross section of artists from different mediums like Alvin Lustig, Luis Barragan, and Calder as well as better known heros like the Eames and George Nelson. One of the main points I wanted to share with the book was how to be a fan, be inspired, but do not copy – a serious problem in modern society.
So in the instance of the Eames we did a stop animation film inspired by their kaleidoscope films. With Noguchi we made origami paper cubes that slip over twinkle lights and a poster board sculpture that examines form and function.
We have just made a fun new website for the book – kidmademodern.com - that has film. We finished a sweet and a little bit creepy stop animation for Alexander Girard and a psychedelic tribute to Verner Panton.
Which is your favorite project? I like them all fortunately but I have a real soft spot for anything to do with duct tape. I have made most of them and I have seen someone make all of them so they are indeed tested with functioning directions. I did want to write the directions in a precise enough way to follow but with room for personal interpretation and I think it worked
What are you giving for Christmas this year? And what’s on your wish list? I am making my Christmas presents this year, as usual, and if I told you i might ruin a few. I am a very lucky guy and I don’t really have a wish list.
Photo credit: © 2009 Todd Oldham/Courtesy www.ammobooks.com