We’re in the Milan Herman Miller showroom with designer Clauda Plikat and engineer Roland Zwick, two of the four-person team with Studio 7.5 who designed Mirra.
mirra 2 | studio 7.5 | 2013
Created in 2003, ten years (and 1.5M sold) later, Mirra 2 is yes, smaller, lighter, stronger and greener than the original At first glance you can see a more svelte profile but it takes a bit more to see the new details. Sitting in Mirra 2 you can feel a difference and if fine-tuning while sitting in the chair is an important criteria the new chair is more intuitive.
mirra | studio 7.5 | 2003
[Claudia Plikat] Herman Miller had called us and said they were thinking about when Mirra would be ten years old in 2013. They asked if we would be willing to revisit the project and see if the concept as a whole is still valid, or are there elements we would like to rethink. We were eager to look at Mirra again though it’s quite a challenge to reinvent your work because as a designer and an engineer, you already the gave blood, sweat and tears the first time.
Mirra was designed as a one-size fits all chair which means it’s adjustable. From the beginning we wanted to have both active and passive adjustments. So when you sit in the chair for the first time it begins to adjust to your body on it’s own. Mirra 2 soul and essential DNA remain intact.
[Roland Zwick] On the new chair we aimed for a more adaptive chair back. We created a patented new system of support: a refined shell with larger holes; a new ‘butterfly back’ structure with controls to vary the tension of a new membrane surface.
[CP] The membrane is much like nature and it’s structure of the leaf, the veins providing rigidity and the skin completes the support, very adaptive to the shape of your body. The seat itself is new. The foam pad from under the seat is gone and uses the new membrane to create a very breathable chair. The new ‘dial-up’ controls give you immediate feedback.The chair’s name “Mirra is a synonym for ‘mirroring your body’ and Mirra 2 advances this idea.
[RZ] We are most proud of the new ‘engine’ which is an assemblage that holds all the parts in place: the chair easily assembles or disassembles without the need for tools and is now produced and assembled in-house at Herman Miller. The new chair is 25% lighter because aluminum was substituted for steel and plastic, aluminum is corrosion-proof and only needs a blast of ceramic paint. Aluminum is 90% recyclable.
[DA] Tell us about the actual design thru production process.
[RZ] We may be unusual in that we don’t sketch. We immediately start building prototypes ourselves. We may start with foam then move to a 3-D computer rendering and use the print to make aluminum parts for testing. These studies are only for our own nosiness and see how the parts go together. To test we eventually need the real part and eventually make very accurate one-off parts. We make a few prototype chairs that lack detailing, but these unfinished chairs will go through boot camp designed to mimic 10,000 sittings, or movements to see what if anything shows unusually quick wear-and-tear, or breaks.
[DA] How do you determine what material to use?
[RZ] Actually most of the solutions are about geometry and not materials. Once we have the geometry and the function determined we can determine the material. As a designer you want to have this honesty of the material. We usually use polypropylene for it’s strength/weight, ease of use, and it recycles well and we now use more aluminum.
[CP] Of interest, the fancy materials are difficult to recycle because they are not well-known enough. A well-known material, the recipe is well-known and the industry knows how to handle it. You really don’t know what’s in many new materials and that’s a risky environmental problem.
[DA] Tell us about the designer / engineer relationship.
[CP] A designer is not an expert, whereas an engineer is an expert in their specialty. To arrive at something new you have to forget conventional methods. An experienced designer knows enough to operate in between specialties. Engineers working with designers are more comfortable experimenting and taking some risks. Roland and I are always talking. Can we take out material here, can we make this side wider and this thinner: form and function at the ground level.
[DA] Which comes first, form or function?
[CP] We don’t start with the form. From our perspective it doesn’t make sense. If you observe how the object functions, how it is used, the form is always the expression of the performance. When we work on objects, we wind up giving parts names. Like ‘fly-back’ which is pretty much the function we are trying to achieve. That’s our inspiration, the bionic universe. Maybe you look at nature very close and see how nature does things.
8>13 brian rea illustrations
14>17 studio 7.5
16> Claudia Plikat, Burkhard Schmitz, Carola Zwick, Roland Zwick
[ herman miller ] [ studio 7.5 ] [ illustrations > brian rea ]
French designer Jean Nouvel tells an intriguing story with his Office for Living Project. 30 years from now if we look back at today’s office we will be stunned to find them — unlivable. In this installation there are several components. One is ‘il maestro’ a tribute to the masters amid a rejection of corporate environments.
standard desk, metropole chair n 308 | jean prouvé | 1943/50
1> 617 johnson wax | frank lloyd wright | cassina | 1936
2> storage unit | ray&charles eames | herman miller | 1949
3> triposto bench | gio ponti | tecno | 1967
4> série Synthesis 45 | ettore sottsass | olivetti | 1968/73
5> t90 executive desk | osvaldo borsani | tecno | 1956
6> chiat day desk | gaetano pésce | 1994
7> standard desk, metropole chair n 308 | jean prouvé | 1943/50
8> bay’s desk | pierre jeannerét | 1952-56
9> carlo mollino | zanotta | 1949
milan chair | click > enlarge
< With extremely tight schedules our talk with Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayón transpires amidst the Fritz Hansen open house filled with his fans. >
[DesignApplause] Jaime, why are you here tonight?
[Jaime Hayón] I’m here because I wanted to meet you. Also, I’m here because of the chair I designed and it’s a party and I’m here enjoying it. The new chair for Fritz Hansen is named ‘Ro’ which means tranquility in Danish. The size of the chair is a one-and-a-half seater, spacious enough to share with a book, laptop or a big fat cat. The concept is the inspiration from seven cities I’ve selected as well as to remind everyone how busy and hectic urban living is. The chair is meant to be some sort of form of peace and tranquility. We’ve also created a special exhibition which is now here in this showroom for the Salone del Mobile and then it will become a worldwide traveling show.
[DA] Fritz Hansen gave you a brief to design this new chair. You mix-up art, decoration and design ever so nicely. Does a brief affect your style, your aesthetics in any way and did you try something new on this project?
[JH] Well there’s a lot of exercises here in terms of trying to make a very comfortable seat first of all. In fact, I also tried to keep the price very low. Shape-wise there’s an effort to try and make it very human and almost soft.
[DA] It looks great. And I sat in it. It’s more comfortable than it looks which I like.
[JH] Thank you. Even though when you look at the side and edges which are very thin there’s a lot of weight to it. I’m happy about.
[DA] Tell us about the seven cities and the aesthetics and construction.
[JH] The seven cities are Copenhagen which reflects Scandinavia, Milan, Berlin, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo. The fabric colors and material selection for the legs are an expression of my sensibilities for each of the cities. The chair is sculpted to be beautiful from all angles. There are three pieces, head, body and seat. The upholstery comes in a range of fabrics, each with contrasting textures for the interior cushions. The shell and material and seam detail is very similar to the Egg chair, so it’s a polyurethane shell with a steel frame. The legs are very special and require three different moulds. The back legs have one mould and the front have a right and a left.
what about here?
[DA] The bracket is very unique and something we wouldn’t notice without the mirror base.
[JH] Yes, the mirror concept in the exhibit shows you the bracket detail under the seat plus you also see a map of each respective city which is tacked on the ceiling.
[DA] Are these chairs residential or contract.
[JH] They are both. The construction of contract furniture must pass stiff commercial requirements and be durable. The chair is comfortable while it has the firmness of a contract piece.
[DA] Did you approach Fritz Hansen with this concept?
[JH] No, they called me in expressly to create a chair that would have the potential to become the next classic, something to add to their collection, so 50 years from now Ro would be a classic like the Egg. They called me in a little over two years ago. I worked with their design team to make a chair both comfortable and beautiful.
[DA] What’s your design philosophy?
[JH] At this time of the day? Chilling. But normally have fun, enjoy. Look at things. Live on details. Make quality. Work with the people you like.
[DA] Did you get a chance to look at anything else at Salone?
[JH] Not a chance. I am working. I came here with the chairs to present and I’m going back home with my family, my wife and two young kids.
[DA] Ro will go on sale in nine colors selected by Jaime: violet, blue, yellow, sage green, light pink, sand, taupe, light grey and black. Of interest is each color has a hint of grey in it because he feels if the chair resides in a hotel lobby or one’s home, grey ties into that space. They goes to market September 2013. The chairs for the cities are just part of an exhibition and will not be available for purchase. [ hayón studio ] [ fritz hansen ]
Alma, a collection of many interchangeable parts, including a birch table, an ash chair, felt, steel rods, and wing nuts. The collection needs only a dining table and shelves to completely furnish your space. Alma represents two months of work from the recent graduate in order to participate in Feria Habitat Valencia 2012 > Nude he was invited to.
[ christian reyes ] [ feria habitat valencia ]
Pour a boutique hotel lobby into a factory building*. Mix in objects from select naval hardware auctions. The one-of-a-kind Cabos Adujados Lamp made of coiled rope that’s been reclaimed from the La Boca shipyard in Buenos Aires. Creative recipe. (*) Actually, this is just one exhibit of many seen at Casa Foa 2012. Chief cook: Argentinian designer [ Silvina Descole ] [ casa foa 2012 ]