top> eames lounge chair / charles and ray eames / herman miller — bottom > barcelona chair / mies van der rohe / knoll
between them, herman miller and knoll have 19 brands and a presence in more than 100 countries. how they market themselves going forward is a case-study-worthy event in the making.
herman miller has acquired knoll. both iconic office furniture companies have more similarities than differences and it’s fair to say the roots to their present-day success is architecture and design. herman miller started with wood, knoll started with the bauhaus. great starts to mark the beginning of this very interesting story.
above > back to the future photo of the j miller house (no relation to herman miller) in columbus indiana. in 1953 the miller’s select architect eliel saarinen and by now herman miller’s head of textiles, alexander girard to create their home. in the foreground is knoll’s saarinen furnishings on a girard rug – below > girard’s touch in foreground and middle ground a seating area of both herman miller and knoll furnishing. today girard is listed as co-architect
herman miller was founded in 1905 and initially the company produced wood furniture, especially bedroom suites, in historic revival styles until 1930. with the coming of the great depression the company was forced to explore new products to survive and debuted a line of modern furniture at the 1933-34 century of progress exposition in chicago. in 1942, with the introduction of the “modular executive office” group (eog), the company was primed to lead the industry during the 70s open plan workplace.
in 1945 architect george nelson joined the firm as director. over the next four decades nelson influenced herman miller through both his personal designs and the designers that he recruited including; isamu noguchi, charles and ray eames, robert propst, and in textile designer alexander girard. beginning in the late 1940s, the period under nelson’s guidance saw herman miller produce some of the company’s most recognizable pieces of furniture, including the noguchi table, eames lounge chair, marshmallow sofa,
above > homage to alexander girard in a herman miller pop-up during icff 2014 – below > cosm / studio 7.5
above> living office/placemaking – below > healthcare
[ herman miller designers ]
edward barber and jay osgerby
charles and ray eames
[ why herman miller magazine ]
hans knoll was born in germany in 1914. his father was a modern furniture manufacturer, who supported the national socialist regime. perhaps because of his father’s views, or perhaps because he wanted to follow many other german modernists who had emigrated, knoll left germany in 1936 and moved to england. in 1938, he moved to new york city to found a furniture manufacturing company of his own.
in 1943, knoll was approached by florence schust, an architect who had studied under ludwig mies van der rohe and eliel saarinen. schust convinced knoll that she could help bring in business to his company even in america’s wartime economy by expanding into interior design and working with architects. hans and florence married and changed the name of the company to knoll associates. today knoll has over 40 of its designs–such as breuer’s wassily and cesca chairs and the barcelona chair by ludwig mies van der rohe–are in the permanent collection at moma.
above > classic southern california mid-century modern cool – imagining catching the view while listening to brubeck on vinyl / photos knoll
above > noguchi collection / isamu noguchi — below > platner collection / william platner
above > knoll office – below > knoll textiles
[ knoll designers ]
hans and florence knoll
mies van der rohe
lella and massimo vignelli
#hermanmiller #knoll #architecture #design #graphicdesign #interiordesign #productdesign #officedesign #workplacedesign #midcenturymodern
entranceway to alessi store in miami design destrict | click > enlarge
Last Spring Alessi introduced ‘Metal Workshop Cranbrook for Alessi’ at ICFF 2012, and to also celebrate the of reopening of their remodeled Soho storefront. That same exhibit was moved to Alessi’s year-old Miami Design District store for Design Miami 2012. Tomorrow the design fair opens. We’re here to check out ‘Workshop’. Paolo Cravedi, Alessi’s Managing Director North America is there to greet us.
[ DesignApplause ] Paolo, please tell us about Metal Workshop.
[ Paolo Cravedi ] Our collaboration with Cranbrook started back in 2009 when Alberto Alessi was invited to Cranbrook for a lecture. And of course you probably know that Cranbrook has an incredibly important modern American design history which gave us people like Charles Eames, Harry Bertoia and Florence Knoll.
Alberto was really fascinated by the beautiful campus which was designed by Eero Saarinen, and Saarinen directed the school for many years. It was magical and Alberto felt like Cranbrook was the last link to this chain of Arts & Crafts movement that’s been going on and on, for centuries really. These things really hit Alberto to the point where there was this spark between Cranbrook and him. Cranbrook was interested in collaborating with an Italian design factory and experimenting with Alessi. For Alberto the interest was working with an institution with a powerful design heritage like Cranbrook.
The workshop was quite open. The only condition that Alberto gave to Cranbrook was that the alumni and students selected had to be metal experts at the hands-on level. That’s one thing that’s very important, if there was one thing that was very visible during this vist to Cranbrook was the knowledge that Cranbrook indeed was hands-on. The school also has state-of-the-art equipment, 3D rendering.
The selected team worked in very different typologies. Some typologies are very familiar in the Alessi catalog and some were very new and experimental. All through the workshop the contact between Cranbrook and Alessi was kept using a blog. With the distance and time difference the blog proved to be an amazing long-distance collaboration tool. The students posted all of their ideas and sketches, and pictures of the prototypes and Alberto and his team would look at the presentations and they could then give direction to the students.
Off all the projects that were presented, four were produced in 2012. They are hitting the stores as we speak. One is called them is called ‘Trellis’ designed by Scott Klinker. It’s a basket in steel colored with white epoxy resin. Scott also was the director of this particular workshop. It’s a perforated sheet of metal then bent on the four corners. The inspiration for ‘Trellis’ came from elements found around the campus.
trellis | scott klinker | 2012
Another project is called the ‘V Tray’ by Adam Shirley. It comes in two versions: black metal and polished stainless steel. This is a concept born from the idea of what a folded piece of metal can do. He experimented with many shapes but liked the simple accordion fold. ‘V Tray’ can be used both for the desk or the kitchen.
v tray | adam shirley | 2012
Yet another project is call ‘Pinch’ also by Adam Shirley. His goal was to take a very raw steel industrial pipe and give it a very simple manipulation, in this case, a pinch at one end. This solution created a flower vase. There are some nice details in this shape like making it easier to display flowers.
pinch | adam shirley | 2012
The last of the four pieces that’s in production is from John Truex and he calls it ‘Dear Charlie’ which is a banana tree. In the words of the designer ‘this is just a tree waiting for its fruit’. The tree can also be used to hang jewelry, keys, and of course definitely perfect for grapes and bananas. The bottom of the base is rubber and the base is heavy. No wobble in ‘Dear Charlie’.
dear charlie | john truex | 2012
[DA] Paolo, what have we learned to date from this workshop?
[PC] The workshop model is important to Alessi and offers many advantages. One is to experiment and try this and that and obviously also to be introduced to new talent. We have learned that the Cranbrook workshop was very fertile, it produced four very very nice products. And as of today, ‘Dear Charlie’ is one of our best sellers during this period. And Alessi has a new typology: the banana holder. Unbelievably successful.
[DA] A new product is like shooting an arrow in the air, you don’t know exactly where it’s going to land, meaning which ideas are grasped by the public.
[PC] That’s exactly right. Although we believe everything we place into production has been carefully selected you don’t know really. Yet we have been pleasantly surprised by the success of many projects through the years. Like ‘Dear Charlie.’
[DA] Alessi opened this space a year ago at last year’s Design Miami. This building is filling up and I can’t help but notice your neighbors in this courtyard. I see Arclinia, Driade, Flos, Maxalto, Moroso, Zanotta…
[CD] That’s right, we’ve been here one year. The retail consultant who leased space for our neighbors and us too likes to call this little Milan. There’s also a new and excellent Italian restaurant right over there, MC Kitchen.
[DA] What a wonderful story behind each of these new products. It should inspire the design students for sure. Grazie e ciao Paolo.
[PC] Ciao Ron, and thank you for the visit.
exhibition runs from 4 > 31 december 2012 | 4141 n.e. 2nd avenue [ alessi shop ] [ aless fall/winter 2012 ] [ miami design destrict ]