Steve Frykholm has been Herman Miller's Creative Director for over 40 years and in this time produced some of our most memorable graphic campaigns (see our previous post about Steve for a recap). He recently designed a poster to promote REACH and we're thrilled he'll be presenting a talk as a one of our special guest speakers on his very first visit to Hong Kong. Below is the recent chat we had with Steve.
As Creative Director of Herman Miller for over 40 years, you've been recognized with the AIGA silver Medal, the highest honor in your profession. the industry and Your work is exhibited in design museums around the world. What stands out as your most satisfying achievement when you reflect on your career?
It is the AIGA Medal, but other recognition is very satisfying as well. I've received the Carl F. Frost Award in 1986, Herman Miller's highest recognition for an employee. I've been recognized as an annual report legend in Graphis and an American Design icon in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Communication Arts. Having several of my posters in the design collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art is also rewarding.
How have those who've come before you influenced your work? The George Nelson led graphic design campaigns must have been a hard act to follow in many ways!
Charles and Ray Eames and the designers who worked for them and George Nelson gave me a wonderful legacy of exceptional work. I believe their work established an atmosphere at Herman Miller to do original and creative work. That's the kind of work I enjoy doing, so it wasn't a hard act to follow. Rather than being intimidating, I was energized.
Herman Miller forms close ties with their designers with many designing repeatedly for the company - your own long career is a prime example. What is it about the Herman Miller process of working with designers and how do they maintain themselves as a design-led company?
Early in our history Gilbert Rhode, the Eameses, George Nelson, Alexander Girard, and Bob Propst taught Herman Miller leaders about design, and its problem-solving ability. Their work gave Herman Miller a very good reputation. Our leaders encourage and support designers to do what we do best - design. Today we'd say brand awareness is enhanced by doing good design in products, environments, and graphics. Today's designers are teachers too, and we continue to learn from them. There is an openness and trust between our designers and the company allowing good work to happen.
You have designed a poster for REACH in Hong Kong. Could you tell us a little about it and your ideas behind it?
I really wanted the poster to have a strong connection between China and Herman Miller. The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is a strong symbol for Herman Miller, and a panda is a strong image for China. After doing my sketch of a panda relaxing in a lounge chair I knew it would be a strong poster. I hope people enjoy it as much as I enjoyed designing it.
How do you hope to spend some of your time in Hong Kong? Anything you’re particularly looking forward to?
I've never been in Hong Kong, and I'm excited about the opportunity to give a presentation and participate in REACH. Not only will I be spending a few days in Hong Kong, but after the conference I will be traveling in China for three weeks with Nancy, my wife. We will be going to Guilin, Shanghai, Xian, and Beijing. We're looking forward to seeing some of the country, feeling its energy and vitality, and learning about its history, culture, food, etc.
REACH is being held in Hong Kong on the 16-17 September 2011, visit the REACH website for full details and to book tickets to hear Steve Frykholm speak.