Herman Miller Asks Famed Designers, “Why?”

Aeron office chair

You can find the 94%-recycled Aeron office chair everywhere, including MoMA.

Herman Miller, Inc. is based in Zeeland, Michigan and is a major manufacturer of modern office furniture, equipment and home furnishings. Under design direction of George Nelson, the company’s become the most prolific and influential producer of modernist furniture. If you’ve ever been in a Design Within Reach store in person, or online, then you’ve witnessed a Herman Miler design.

In a campaign launched late last year, the company launched a microsite/blog called Why Design, where, obviously, they asked famed designers like Gianfranco Zaccai, Yves Béhar, Sam Hecht + Kim Colin and more why they do what they do.

The answers are at times kitsch, sometimes off the wall. But, the videos are gorgeously shot and the site is, again obviously, well designed.

If possible, check out Why Design on your mobile phone and rotate it both ways. It’s clean and versatile, looking equally good in landscape as portrait.

Here are a couple of our favorites answers to the utterly oblique question of “Why do you design?”

Ayse Birsel says design is “aligning myself with my values.”

Birsel: “If your values are giving… And you look at your life and you realize ‘There’s not much giving in there,’ you can say, ‘Maybe there’s some things I can do to have more of that…’ You shift your persecptive from this to a new place and then you figure out how to harmonize what you want and what you need which equals value.”

Ayse Birsel is reputed for overseeing the design of the Resolve Office System. 

Don Chadwick says good design is “survival.”

Chadwick: “Do I really need this? Or can I do without that? Selectivity is part of the design process.

“You’re constantly chewing away on this visual language that surrounds you and then you extract out of that what you feel is necessary for your ideas that you’re trying to improve on.”

Don Chadwick attended UCLA and is the co-creator of the award-winning Aeron office chair (the one we’re all sitting on).

Regardless of your opinion on Herman Miller, Inc, their work is everywhere. These designers are at the top of their game. It’s got to be nice to be so good at something you have to make a video explaining why you’re doing what you’re doing.

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