What's In It For You

Canvas Office Landscape

Product Story

Canvas Office Landscape is an adaptive solution for creating human-centered workplaces. Consisting of a concise set of elements, Canvas simplifies the creation of varied settings to support the activities of individuals and groups. Its elements combine harmoniously in many different ways, so Canvas can address the widest possible range of workplace needs. The office becomes a place people want to be, and where they have the connections they need—with others and their tools—to do their best work.


Providing choices—to organizations and planners—is integral to Canvas. Perhaps more important, Canvas gives the freedom to create a variety of settings geared to the activities of workers, which fosters their engagement. Private offices, individual workspaces, open team and group areas that achieve a balance between privacy and connection—Canvas can do them all.


Canvas Wall-Based elegantly divides space and distributes power and data. A variety of wall heights can be used to achieve more or less enclosure to support different degrees of focus and interaction in office landscapes that range from more traditional to open and collaborative.


Canvas Dock-Based gives organizations the flexibility to easily transition between a range of individual and group settings as work needs change. The dock is completely non-modular, allowing surfaces, storage, and screens to be placed at any point and then added or removed as needed.

Private Office

Canvas Private Office supports the need for settings where people can go to focus, create, or relax. Whether a person’s private office or a place for collaborative meetings, these spaces are created from the same concise set of elements, allowing their use elsewhere in a Canvas environment.


Canvas Beam-Based offers a full range of linear planning options for instances where the efficient use of floor space is a key requirement. While answering the need for a small footprint, Canvas Beam-Based, with its open design, maintains the individual’s comfort and sense of space.


Multifunctional storage routes power and data from building to workspace, keeps essential work tools close at hand, and delineates space. The layering of surfaces and storage contributes to a residential feel. Guest seating for impromptu interactions adds another practical element.


Canvas Group-Based is designed to create spaces for collaboration where it naturally happens in an open plan—near individual work areas. It offers a variety of collaborative tools and configurations that allow people to share display, create, and store to support their work activities.

Canvas Office Landscape


The most successful organizations integrate workplace, work, and worker into a balanced whole. The cohesive solution offered by Canvas creates anything from public spaces to private offices. Achieving aesthetic, social, and visual harmony across an entire office landscape to a degree that is unmatched, Canvas supports human connections that encourage creativity.

Canvas Office Landscape


Canvas, with its concise set of elements that combine harmoniously, enables the creation of settings that bring people together and promote interaction. Equally important, Canvas supports all the forms of technology people use in the office, facilitating its use without being defined by it. By supporting and enabling technology, Canvas furthers the use of these tools to achieve a priority for a more natural and desirable workplace—enhancing human interaction.

Design Story

Herman Miller has been involved in workplace design since the 1930s, with desks designed by Gilbert Rohde. George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames designed desks, files, and other workplace furniture for us in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1960s, the Quickborner Team in Germany developed the radical concept of Burolandschaft, or office landscape, as an organizing principle for work spaces. And in 1968, Robert Propst and the Herman Miller Research Corporation completely changed the paradigm of office furniture with the groundbreaking Action Office system.

Over the next few decades, we developed other systems furniture solutions, each with its own characteristics, each based on the changing needs of our customers.

With the new millennium we came to realize our customers needed a furniture solution that was holistic and integrated and that provided a simple way to furnish all the usable space on a customer's floorplate. Our research between 2001 and 2003 concluded that systems furniture met the needs of workers in assigned spaces well but that more solutions were needing for unassigned spaces.

In addition, we found that designers and architects increasingly sought to express the differing characters and cultures of organizations. Office space needs were changing, as they always do. The importance of community spaces was growing rapidly, and the needs of work teams were increasing and going pretty much unmet.

Out of that research came the beginning of the idea behind Canvas, which started as a combination of the research we had done, existing systems designed by Doug Ball and Joey Ruiter, and new designs from Jeffrey Bernett and Nicholas Dodziuk of the New York firm Consultants for Design Strategy. The challenge for Bernett and Dodziuk was to incorporate two existing Herman Miller lines to create a cohesive "kit of parts" solution for individual workspaces, ranging from private offices to open plans.

Bernett and Dodziuk were an ideal team to tackle the assignment. The two have worked together for many years at CDS, and their backgrounds include a wide range of projects, from airline seating to graphic design to consumer products. And they both love working on furniture. Bernett says that with any project, "The end-user needs always come first: Who is going to use or want this and why? Of course, there are performance criteria as well; and then the question becomes: How are we going to manufacture what we are working on?"

Both designers have always had a keen interest in how things work. Bernett says, "I knew my way around a machine shop from the time I was 10 years old." Dodziuk credits his parents—his father was a mathematician and his mother an artist—with giving him the genes to tap into both sides of his brain. "Furniture problems are complex, but they require simple solutions," he says.

But a specific kind of "simple." Bernett quotes this statement, attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes: "I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." In other words, to achieve a workable simplicity, you have to first understand complexity.

"I believe design helps us understand the world we live in and connects us to one another," says Bernett. "The best products anticipate and define future needs and behaviors and ultimately promote balance, harmony, and simplification of our complicated lives."