We are taking a hiatus over the Easter break and also working on a refresh of the blog. For those celebrating Easter, we wish you a safe and happy one. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your readership of the Herman Miller Asia Pacific blog, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed bringing you interesting stories from around the region. Farewell, for now - we look forward to bringing you more news from Herman Miller Asia Pacific very soon.
Herman Miller, Hong Kong, Nelson
Check out the article and profile on George Nelson which includes an interview with our very own Jeremy Hocking that featured on Hong Kong’s Apple Daily this week. You can view the video here.
“The customer that wants to buy a fake or a copy is not a Herman Miller customer. We’re trying to make the world a better place, a more beautiful place through design.”
Jeremy Hocking, Vice President of Herman Miller Asia Pacific
We just love Kvadrat‘s latest design collaboration which was launched at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan this week. They asked 22 contemporary designers to interpret their ‘Divina’ range, a felt-like fabric which was originally created by Danish painter and graphic artist Finn Sködt in 1984. The results are inspired, colourful – divine is the word. Check out the video below for a more thorough look.
Easter is just around the corner and we know not everybody celebrates it, but this egg hunt is something any art and design lover can appreciate – there’s so much to like! Faberge has commissioned a whole host of renowned artists, designers and architects including Zaha Hadid, Tracy Emin and Ralph Lauren to create a series of sculptural eggs that will be hidden around the city. The big egg hunt is for anyone to participate over the next 3 weeks (1-21 April), complete with smart phone apps and very exclusive prizes. Last year they launched it in London and this year it’s taking place in New York. Hopefully somewhere on the Asia Pacific map is on the cards for the future!
You can check out all the eggs on the The Big Egg Hunt site (we saw it first here at design boom).
Herman Miller, History, Nelson
We just have to share the wonderful ‘Hilda Stories’ in case you’ve missed them - a series of short animated films based on 80 year old Hilda Longinotti’s favourite anecdotes from her 21 years as George Nelson’s executive secretary at the Nelson Office in New York. Hilda is an absolute delight and her stories bring to life some wonderful historical moments, such as George Nelson directing Irving Harper to design the Marshmallow Sofa after unpacking some round foam cushion samples; “this could be fun, Irving why don’t you think about doing a frame for these marshmallows”.
The complete series of animations is up on the Herman Miller ‘WHY and includes the episodes ‘The Case of the Missing Warhols’, ‘The Receptionist’ and ‘Bon Voyage George’. Well worth a view!
EIGHTSIX is a blog promoting Chinese Design that we stumbled upon quite by accident and we were so impressed by the quality and integrity of its content that we decided to investigate. That’s how we found Elliot Richards (above), the British born, architecturally trained founder of EIGHTSIX who lives in Shanghai and has an infectious passion for good Chinese Design. It’s a nice co-incidence that the EIGHTSIX blog has just had a redesign of its own and is looking fantastic. Read on to learn a little bit more about Elliot and the EIGHTSIX story, as well as some of Elliot’s tips on the most exciting people and places on the Chinese design scene…
What is your background? What ignited your passion for design?
I am originally from Essex in the UK, and I grew up in a small village. I first started getting creative when I was around 7 or 8 and I was into robot wars & building model cars from kits. From this stemmed a gradual appreciation of how things fit together and worked which lead me to appreciate good design and aesthetics. How did you come to live in China? I graduated from my degree in Architecture from the University of Sheffield in 2008, right in the thick of the recession. Unsurprisingly, no-one wanted to hire architects, let alone new graduates. So after 4 months of applications, I tried China – the economy there was still booming, so I thought I would try Beijing for 3 months. I worked in Architecture for around a year, for a local Chinese firm and another owned by a foreigner before packing it all in when I realised that 80% of the projects we were doing were fantasy projects, not rooted in the real world. Half the satisfaction in design for me is seeing the completed project. I had always had a very keen interest in graphic design so I went down this path – this is where I currently work, but in Shanghai.
(above) animation by Lei Lei
Tell us the story of EIGHTSIX – how did it begin?
Whilst living in Beijing I was walking around the 798 art district, and I saw these really exciting posters with Chinese characters on them, which really stood out to me. I thought to myself, where can I find out more information about this? I looked online, and no-one was talking about Chinese design. This is where I started the blog. I had a remit from early on that the blog really needed to be accessible to those living outside of China, so I write everything in English. It has grown and grown from no-one reading it back in 2011, to thousands of hits per month and some exciting collaborations with people like Levi’s etc. But the blog is purely altruistic – it does cost some money to run but I really do want to promote young Chinese designers.
How do you generate the content for the blog?
This is what takes up most of the time with the blog. You do get the occasional press release from the bigger architecture/furniture firms, but mostly it is about sifting through Chinese portfolio sites, searching for those hidden gems. Some of these designers struggle to find a voice in amongst all the noise, so I think that I like to help them by showing their work to a global audience. I have tried to broaden the posts – we do a lot of cross-posts and interviews with my friend Zara Arshad from Design-China, and I have started a series called INSIGHT to explain trends in China in more depth.
(above) A project by the People’s Architecture Office (PAO) featured on EIGHTSIX
What excites you most about Chinese Design right now?
The uncertainty of it all. I have said that we are at the stage where Chinese Design doesn’t have a strong, cohesive identity yet. Japanese design for example follows one aesthetic, whereas at the moment we are seeing the birth of this identity. No-one knows its direction, but this first 80′s generation of designers are experimenting. Perhaps it will always be fluid and undefined. This experimentation is what we are seeing, from Architecture to Fashion and graphic design. Fashion has made the most headway, and we are seeing this really begin to establish a Chinese design identity. In China, designers are willing to take risks, what with the cost of raw materials and construction being so cheap. One furniture designer I know still lives with his parents, and saves his money to develop his furniture – he will be launching in China this year and has already begun to generate a lot of buzz.
(above) Typography by Lok Ng as featured on EIGHTSIX
What changes do you hope to see in the future?
Primarily a change to the education system. Chinese students from a very young age are taught by rote – this turns them into great mathematicians, but poor designers. There is no creativity or independent thought in the classrooms. As a result a lot of these students start their journey of creativity at 18 at the start of university so have to catch-up a lot in a tiny amount of time. Sometimes this is forced and overall creativity and quality of work can suffer. Secondly, more government support. They do a great job in Beijing with Beijing Design Week, and their hands-off approach has lead to it becoming a fantastic international event. But its lacks true support in other places. There have been big design events which have been just a token gesture towards ‘design’ and tend to be run by an older generation of businessmen, rather than creative thinkers. I also hope to see more Chinese designers being respected worldwide – this is beginning to happen already. Furniture from Zhang Zhoujie, Carl Liu etc are making their way overseas which is great. Chinese architects have (just) started to place their foot on the international stage too.
(above) Graphics by Au Chon Hin as featured on EIGHTSIX
After living in Beijing for four years you’ve now moved to Shanghai. Have you noticed a difference in the design culture between the two cities?
Yes, very much so. It is hard to say one city is more creative than the other, but Beijing fosters this environment a lot better. It may be a government city, but there is a willingness, and acceptance of art and design much more than Shanghai. Saying that, commercial design is not a big part of Beijing. For the money you need to come to Shanghai, this is where designers realise their dreams and receive financial support. But Shanghai does lack some of the soul of Beijing.
(above) A project by AA LAB as featured on EIGHTSIX
Can you share with you a few of your favourite Chinese designers?
Some of my favourite at the moment are – Huabiao Shan, a furniture designer from Hangzhou, Ye Yejun, a furniture designer from Shanghai and Lok Ng – typographer. I really like LeiLei too, his animations are fantastical journeys through his imagination. And local design haunts? NUTLAB is a great space for their events, the Power Station of Art is great place to spend a few hours every month. Kaiba occasionally holds talks with designers too with great Belgian Beer!
(above) A chair by Huabiao Shan as featured on EIGHTSIX
What hopes and dreams do you have for EIGHTSIX’s future?
I have two hopes. One is to become a resource for designers to find a voice on the international stage, and for those living outside of China to discover the great talent here. Secondly, I hope to document the growth of Chinese design on its way to becoming a global player.
Thank you Elliot.
Designers, Herman Miller, Products, Workspace
Formwork is a system of modular desk accessories that enable people to bring order to their papers, tools, and artefacts. It has been designed for Herman Miller by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of Industrial Facility and like all their products, has been meticulously researched, beginning the a careful examination of the items that populate the modern desk. The process clearly showed that not only were the items a mixture of analogue and digital items, but an amalgamation of not just the office, but also the kitchen, the workshop and the bathroom. Because of the wide range of items to be stored and used, Hecht and Colin chose a simple box shape and made it relative to the commonly found items. For instance pen cups share the same diameter as the internal roll of masking tape; boxes share the same size as tissue boxes; and paper trays share the sizes of assorted papers and magazines. A hierarchy of usefulness is achieved, with each accessory allowing for multiple uses.
Formwork is entirely flexible and can be stacked and combined in any way the user desires. Clever and thoughtful features such as cantilevered levels allow objects to be revealed or concealed for easy access. Formwork is made from ABS Plastic with a non-slip Silicone Base and comes in a range of colours. It’s an elegant and thoughtful solution to the very common problem of desktop storage but it would be a delightful addition to the workshop or home – it’s an accessory that can only help enhance work and home life which is what we’re all about.
Check our the review a staff member felt compelled to write up in a blog post, after trying out the newly installed SAYL chairs for their new office fit out. Here’s a little extract;
“As a ‘frequent flyer’ at the Chiropractor for many years now, I was keen to test-drive chairs for the new building. Most office chairs are instruments of torture, based on designs dating back to the Spanish Inquisition, and to be honest, some of those we were given to test fell into that category.
I’m sure there was a bright light and I briefly lost consciousness when the Sayl chair arrived and I was immediately drawn to it. The moment I sat in it, I knew I had to have one – it really is that good. And now that I know we will all have them when we move to the building, I am refusing to part with the one I was given to test!”
The frameless back of the SAYL by Yves Béhar encourages a full range of movement whilst providing a healthy balance between support and freedom. It’s respectful to the environment and was designed to be affordable. We never tire of hearing that the SAYL is living up to expectations (and reducing Chiropractic bills!). You can read the full review here.
The Eames Lounge and Ottoman was a fitting choice for Singapore design firm SPACEDGE when furnishing their Mad Men inspired project ‘Class with Soul’.