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Blogs

Herman Miller Asia Pacific

What inspires us and what we hope will inspire you and all the members of the Herman Miller community.

Herman Miller, Hong Kong, Nelson 2014.04.16

Jeremy Hocking interview on Apple Daily

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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

Inspired, Textiles 2014.04.14

Inspired: Kvadrat’s Divina Collaboration

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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.

Australia, Herman Miller, Sighted, Workspace 2014.04.9

Sighted: Michelle Bridges 12 WBT Head Office, Sydney

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Spot the Herman Miller/Eames pieces in the very serene Michelle Bridges 12 WBT Head Office in Surry Hills, Sydney Australia, designed by Ian Moore Architects.

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Events, Inspired 2014.04.7

Inspired: Easter egg hunt with a difference

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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!

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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 2014.04.3

The Hilda Stories

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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!

China, Design 2014.03.31

Herman Miller talks to Elliot Richards, founder of the EightSix blog

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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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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!

Huabiao Shan

(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 2014.03.27

Introducing Formwork by Industrial Facility

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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.

Furniture, Workspace 2014.03.25

“I love my SAYL chair almost as much as my Smartphone”

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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.

Sighted, Singapore 2014.03.21

Sighted: Eames Lounge and Ottoman

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The Eames Lounge and Ottoman was a fitting choice for Singapore design firm SPACEDGE when furnishing their Mad Men inspired project ‘Class with Soul’.

Designers, Innovation, Interview, Workspace 2014.03.17

Herman Miller talks to Craig Jones Design

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Today we’re thrilled to bring you an interview with Craig Jones Design, the team behind one of our latest products, the Anywhere Case (above). Anywhere was designed specifically to meet the needs of the increasingly nomadic workplace. Read on to learn of the design story behind it and the a little more about the studio that has created it.

What instigated your passion for design? Tell us a little about your background…
The team (below) are a mixed bag, but whether informed by humble surroundings in Wales or South East London, the streets of Bogota, the beauty of Rome or the leafy backdrop of the Oxfordshire countryside, we all share a common enthusiasm for designing and making things.

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Describe a typical day at the office.
The doors swing open, the lights go on coffee pot warms up, we have a brief project overview meeting and then the magic begins!

How do you begin the design process for a new product. Are there any rituals or routines you follow?
As far as rituals are concerned, no. On more occasions than we care to mention our ground-up innovation (inclusive of Anywhere) has stemmed directly from our ‘Friday Afternoon Club’. This is a round table discussion in which all members of the team contribute and debate creative ideas. A kind of democratic design forum. Curiously these meetings tend to happen on a Monday and our table is rectangular with corners!

On a serious note no two processes are identical there are key elements which we always incorporate, an analysis of context and direction, concept design and development then seesaw through many iterations and refinement and resolution follow.

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Could you tell us a little of the Anywhere design story – how did it begin?
Anywhere stems from our internal dialogue on working practices and the dynamics of the workplace. The development of the product, in particular its scale and the selection of materials is directly related to our views of change and a more holistic approach to working spaces. Anywhere is an attempt to support the users work day by providing usable storage which is both functional and portable.

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What were some of the key considerations for ensuring Anywhere responded to the needs of the contemporary workplace?
We conducted research which validated our view of the ‘stuff’ which users might need to carry around. Anywhere was designed to fit into a rucksack or a pannier as well as to be carried on its own. Its size was not determined by hanging file dimensions commonly found in metal pedestal and filing storage but by the size of an A4 pad, tablets and ultrabooks.

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As a catalyst for change in the workplace, what does Anywhere provide?
It’s our belief that by providing tools which support a safe and healthy environment we can help achieve a truly effective workplace. In an ever more diverse workplace ecosystem, Anywhere aids that process by giving the user the opportunity to convert any setting into their own bureau. A bureau that can be carried in the hand and assembled in seconds wherever its owner chooses to sit and work, whether that’s in a formal setting, a café, on a train or in an airport lounge.

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What influence did the manufacturing techniques have on the final design?
We found the shape before we found the process and during the iterative process of the design we developed the aesthetic to suit our requirements for both form and function. We explored different forms of apertures, closure, prototyped and tested numerous locking systems and experimented with different material densities to ascertain the correct balance between soft and robust. At each stage we pushed manufacturing to fit our purpose, in some cases stretching the limits of particular processes.

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Your studio has an impressive list of clients from around the world. Can you share with us a memorable project or two?
The Swirl light for Deadgood Ltd was particularly special because of the speed of the initial development program, the result and the market response and our first production light!

The Eclipse bench seat and table was exciting because of the collaboration with BASF on the development of resins for use in the manufacture of the tools and oversized bone shaped structure.

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What inspires you?
How long have we got… Our main focus surrounds the application of new materials and manufacturing processes but also machines, nature, conversations, technology, each other, our travels, history (think that’s enough inspiration. Ed)

What are you most proud of?
Importantly for us the evolution of the studio which has accelerated over the last 2-3 years and continues apace with the addition of new members, new skills and a wealth of experience and expertise. On the design side, Anywhere has put us on the same page as some of our design heroes and that’s definitely a good thing.

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Favourite period in design history?
Our favourite periods are separated by over 60 years but share a common theme. Firstly the 1950′s for its adventurous adoption of post war technologies and the excitement of a new mass manufactured organic aesthetic, and also the period we’re currently working in and the coming years. New manufacturing and materials technologies are developing to such a level that we really can start exploring the limits of our imagination as in the 1950′s with a common consciousness which connects both aesthetic and social aspects of design and manufacture.

Historical references and new materials to enhance historical brilliance and our collective response to that question is quite definitely contemporary design.

Just for fun, what’s your favourite piece of Herman Miller furniture?
SETU by Studio 7.5, for its clear aesthetic link to Herman Miller’s heritage and its impact on the market for workplace seating.

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