Herman Miller

Herman Miller: A Way of Living

Every once in a while, I purchase a book based on the reviews I’ve read and fully expect the actual product to not live up to the hype. Usually, it’s that thing where my expectations were inflated due to glowing reviews that tout the quality of the layouts, the editorial, photography and more. With my recent purchase of “Herman Miller: A Way of Living” I have to say the reviews were spot on. (Amazon has this for about $20.00 less)

This book chronicles more than 100 years of Herman Miller’s history and the key events that have made it a cultural icon. Broken out into 10 chapters, the book creates a timeline that highlights key achievements, people, and events that have made the Herman Miller company the powerhouse that it is today.

Thanks to exhaustive research done by Herman Miller archivist Amy Auscherman, Sam Grawe and Leon Ransmeier the book is 614 pages of history, illustrations, photography, and essays that add up to a comprehensive history that in my opinion is the best book on Herman Miller to date.

Auscherman, Grawe and Ransmeier, spent the better part of four years combing the design collections at the Vitra Design Museum, UCLA Libraries, the Eames Office, Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation included for Herman Miller-related documents, photographs, archives, and illustrations for the new book and it paid off. They have gone into historic detail that not only delves into the company history but the influence that the products, architecture, and people brought to Herman Miller culture over the last 100 years.

The 10 chapters that go in-depth on everything from key figures in the company’s history (Nelson, Eames, Girard, Frykolm) to pivotal moments in popular culture that shaped Herman Miller’s trajectory, this book is the summation of Herman Miller’s existence thus far—the most expansive one to date.

“Even the nerdiest nerds and Herman Miller fans and people who have spent their whole working life at the company will have something to learn from this book,” she says. “I sit in this interesting position at the company where I kind of know the genesis of ideas that have proliferated and made the company what it is today. These ideas have been revisited and refined over and over again—not in a bad way. Usually, people aren’t coming up with something totally new, but they’re new iterations on something that’s already existed and making it better.”

Amy Auscherman

The book covers everything from furniture design, advertising materials, design research, human factors company culture, textile development and more. Each section or chapter is prefaced with an in-depth essay on the influence that this portion had on the company as it grew from a small Michigan based furniture manufacturer into an international powerhouse.

Steve Frykholm’s Picnic Posters for Herman Miller.

This just put a huge smile on my face. Produced by Dress Code this is the story of Steve Frykholm, Herman Miller’s first in-house graphic designer. Frykholm stayed with Herman Miller for 44 years working on internal projects for the company. One of his favorites, and the subject of this film, are the posters he created for the annual company picnic. This is the story of how the posters came to be, and their induction into the Museum of Modern Art. I love how Frykholm’s laid back attitude about how these came to be runs in stark contrast to the creative process of the digital age. There is no way a committee could have deluded his concepts with an endless sea of changes, revisions, and interjections. Because of it, the posters Frykholm created are as fresh and original today, as they were when he started making them in 1970.


“These details are not accents or quirks, they are evidence of quality.”

In the short film below for Herman Miller, Dress Code focuses on the production of the iconic Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman that has been in constant production since 1956. The video documents the visual account of the chair being manufactured, and simultaneously reveals the ethos of Herman Miller’s design principals and process. In two minutes the viewer is presented with lush visuals, and solid narrative that embodies not only the Eames Lounge Chair, but everything Herman Miller produces. The flow, cadence, and visual treatment of the short reads more like a tribute, and less like an ad. This is a great example of an emerging form of online content that feels more engaging and genuine than a typical 30 second spot on TV. Hat tip to Herman Miller for commissioning, and to Dress Code for a great production.

“These details are not accents or quirks. These details are not the details, they are evidence of quality.”

Why Design – Yves Behar and Herman Miller.

Herman Miller has kicked off it’s “Why Design” series again with a short film featuring Yves Behar. If you’re a designer, you know who this is, if you aren’t a designer, you should know who this is. Anyway The film below is the first is  the series which will include Don Chadwick, and Ayse Birsel in the near future. The first short has some really nice production values and editing with a narrative that highlights Behar’s entrepreneurial spirit, his views on sustainability and design as he compares surfing to improvisational jazz. It’s only a couple of minutes long. Take a break and give it a look.

Inspired by a Bridge. Sayl On.

When I first saw Yves Behar’s  Sayl chair designed for Herman Miller, I fell in love with it. And after, spending some time sitting in it, I was blown away by the comfort that good design and thoughtful engineering provides.

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The chair was originally inspired by the engineering of the Golden Gate suspension bridge, and that inspiration led Behar to design the Sayl chair for maximum support and flexibility while using a minimal amount of materials. Rather than using a material that a wrap around frame would require, Behar used a center vertical support with a patterned mesh, which created a 3-D intelligent back that has different degrees of tension for each part of your back. This meant that Behar used less material, which cost less, and still remained extremely comfortable.In addition the Sayl chair is 93% recyclable and is certified Cradle to Cradle Silver. This elegant solution is a wonderful example of the beauty that can come from designing for less.

And on top of it all, it is a fun experience designing your own Sayl chair. You can choose from different colors for the frame, and different types of fabrics and chair types. I designed my chair 5 different times (with various bold colors), before finally settling on classic gray and black.

For more information, Herman Miller has a wonderful website that talks about the design process with a great series of images, and videos here.

Dear Santa, I Have Needs.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and you know what that means… it means the holiday shopping season has begun with “Black Friday” deals erupting everywhere. I’m not participating in any of that nonsense. For the last 7 or more years I have done almost all of my Christmas shopping online, and probably will again this year as well. That doesn’t stop you however, and that is why I am posting my top ten wish list for Christmas 2010. Feel free to purchase any of these items for me.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 is the World’s smallest and lightest compact system camera with a built-in flash. Replacing the popular GF1 model, the new GF2 is 19% smaller in size and 7% less in weight than its predecessor, thanks largely to the introduction of a touch-control interface via the 3 inch 460,000-dot LCD screen. The DMC-GF2 also offers full HD movies at 1920 x 1080 at 60i (NTSC) / 50i (PAL) in AVCHD format with stereo sound, a new Graphic User Interface, a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, Venus Engine FHD image processor, expanded ISO range of 100-6400, a built-in pop-up flash and Dust Reduction system. If you don’t want to use the LCD screen for composition, an optional electronic external viewfinder is also available ($200), which slots into the external flash hot-shoe on top of the camera. The camera comes in Black, Silver, Red, and White. Prices range from 600 to 750 bucks depending on where you buy, and the accessories you get with it.

Olive O2 Multi-room player and olive Music Server


Olive makes some of the best digital music systems in the world, and this is a set up I could love. But with steep prices, I am counting on one of you to buy this for me this year. The multi-room players run $599.00 and the Olive servers run from 1000 to 5000 dollars depending on storage, Olive ripping your entire CD collection, pre-loading music etc. Speakers aren’t included so if you want to pick up a couple decent pairs I wouldn’t mind at all.

Eames Lounger and ottoman

I figure this Eames Lounge Chair with Ottoman would be an awesome addition to my living room. What better way to relax than sitting in this chair with my feet up listening to my new Olive sound system while checking out the photos I just shot on my new camera. Well I can think of a few additions that might help.

Charbay alambic whiskey release ii

This is hands down the best whiskey I have ever tasted, and at $329.00 a bottle it should be. Using original pot heated distilling methods Charbay took 3.5 weeks of 24/7 distilling, working in shifts to check on the Pot Still every 3-4 hours. (One of the main reasons nearly all whiskey is column distilled.) to make this hand crafted whiskey. It is so smooth and flavorful you have to taste it to believe it. Distilled from “Low Wash” beer this whiskey has  a flavor that really allows the hops and barley overtones to come through. And yes I would drink this while sitting in my new chair listening to my new sound system, while fiddling with my new camera.

Samsung UN55b8500 Led backlit LCD Tv.

I figure if I am sitting in my Eames lounger sipping on whiskey, listening to my new sound system and checking out my new camera; I should have the TV going so I can stimulate even more of my surroundings with additional visual overloads. And what better way to do that than with one of the TV’s that C-Net says has the best picture of any TV they have reviewed. This 55 inch backlit LED/LCD TV boasts a 2 millisecond refresh rate clocking at 240 Hz. It has a contrast ratio of 7000000:1, and is internet connected.

“It costs a mint, but Samsung’s local dimming, LED-based UNB8500 series delivers the best picture quality of any LCD we’ve tested.” C-Net

Cartier Santos 100 Chronograph Black Dial Watch

All of this sitting and relaxing might have a tendency to lead to an abundance of sloth, and I am not the kind of individual that likes to sit around or be late. what better way to keep track of time than with this Cartier watch. The Santos features a titanium satin coated ADLC case with a black toile de voile bracelet. The bezel is constructed from stainless steel and titanium. It features a black dial with sword-shaped hands and Roman numeral  markers around the outer rim. The Chronograph features three sub-dials displaying: 60 seconds, 30 minutes and 12 hours. The self-winding automatic movement guarantees I’ll never be late.

Hermes Blake Loafers

Thanks to my new watch I won’t be late, but that doesn’t mean I won’t push my departure to the last-minute. With all this good stuff why would I even want to leave my house. None the less I know I am going to have to venture out at some point, and I might as well sport some fine shoe leather if I do. That is where these hand stitched Hermes loafers come in. My feet will be swathed in the finest of calfskin, cushioning each step as I race out the door for my flight to Monaco.

Best Made Axe

I don’t want you all to think I am some sort of sissified dandy, so I think it’s important that I request some manly gifts that exude luxury, yet hold on to that utilitarian function that I also covet. This is where the Best Made Axe comes in. Whether I am chopping down a tree, splitting logs, or killing zombies, nothing does a better job than this axe. Constructed with a hand painted and polished 30″ hickory helve topped off with a 3.5 lb fine grain steel bit this axe means business. Very manly, kind of designer. Either way its 400 dollars worth of zombie splitting goodness in your hands.

Raleigh Denim Jeans

Using an axe requires a solid pair of jeans. No self-respecting lumberjack would be caught dead wearing anything but denim when cutting down trees with their Best Made Axe in hand. These are not your ordinary machine-made jeans. Each pair of jeans from Raleigh Denim is handcrafted and sourced in North Carolina, made from White Oak Cone Denim, hand signed and individually numbered. Frankly I think I’d look good wearing these while sitting on my Eames Lounger, checking the time on my Cartier watch, sipping my Charbay whiskey, Listening to my Olive sound system, watching my Samsung TV, while taking pictures of my Hermes shoes.

If you wish to purchase any of these fine gifts for me, shoot me an email and I’ll give you my mailing address.

The Story of Eames Furniture, by Gestalten.

The folks over at Gestalten have released an epic book about Eames furniture. This 800 page tome is destined to become the benchmark reference on the Eames furniture for years to come. The book is part biography, but not in the true sense of the word. It is a biography of the designer, the process, and the relationship between designer and manufacturer.

The book is filled with fantastic photographs, insightful text, and explains in unparalleled detail how the Eames as well as a talented team of designers worked to create some of the most significant pieces of mid-century modern furniture in the world. The book describes in detail the key role played by the Eames Office’s own development and perfection of production processes for its designs as well as the significance of its relationship with manufacturers.

By documenting the creation and spread of these landmark furniture designs, this book also tells the story of how modernism became established in homes and offices throughout the world in the last half of the 20th century.

The suggested price is $199.00, but Amazon has it for $125.00

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