Lines, Grid & Blocks
With an installation of new textiles for Maharam upholstered on pieces from the Herman Miller Collection, Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings share “the inspiration of possibilities” at this year’s Salone Del Mobile in Milan.
Written by: Sam Grawe
Artwork by: Helenio Barbetta
In 1948, under the oversight of Design Director George Nelson, Herman Miller undertook the “continuing creation of a permanent collection designed to meet fully the requirements for modern living.” The philosophy was then, as it is today, that the Herman Miller Collection would not change for the sake of trend or style, but would recognize “ways of living are continually changing,” and incorporate new solutions to new problems as they were identified.
“When we began designing the textiles, Maharam asked us to look at the idea of color blocking, and we tried to apply this same concept of blocking to the whole space.”
Much has changed since Nelson offered this vision for the Collection, but his words, like many of the designs he, Alexander Girard, Charles and Ray Eames, and Ward Bennett developed remain relevant—even prescient. Falling into the latter category is a passage from Nelson’s 1948 Blueprint For Modern Living that ably captures (albeit with the wrong pronouns) the spirit of contemporary designers Scholten & Baijings:
If the modern designer were concerned with functional requirements alone he would be little more than an organizer of space and a statistician preoccupied with the number of shirts, slips, and silver spoons owned by the average family. Actually his work begins after the functional requirements have been cared for, for his real problem is to turn out pieces that satisfy his sense of what is appropriate and beautiful. His feeling for the contemporary interior produces rooms that depend more on color and textures for their effect than on elaboration of detail.
Textiles and wallcoverings present a paradoxical challenge for the designer. Even when fully realized, each remains a chrysalis—awaiting transformation through its final application. To complete this last step, the textile requires a piece of furniture, the wallcovering, a room.
“Lines, Grid & Blocks” offers Scholten & Baijings’ new textiles a venue for that transformation. Conceived by the designers, the installation at Herman Miller’s showroom at Corso Garibaldi 70, highlights the conceptual and aesthetic approach behind their work. “When we began designing the textiles, Maharam asked us to look at the idea of color blocking,” says Scholten. “And we tried to apply this same concept of blocking to the whole space.”
“We think in terms of color–it’s not an afterthought. ”
Hanging textiles demonstrate the variation offered by the extended nine meter repeats, while pieces of furniture have been specifically selected to highlight a particular aspect of the pattern or colorway. The harmony of the total composition results from both the guiding philosophy of the Herman Miller Collection—where each solution has been included for its ability to work with the others—and Scholten & Baijings’ highly considered approach to color and texture.
With Scholten & Baijings for Maharam, the Herman Miller Collection takes on further dimension, and proposes a new way of living. According to Scholten, “it’s really about the inspiration of possibilities.”