Helping define mid century style for several decades is not the easiest task in the world. But the creative minds at Herman Miller, Inc. make it seem effortless with their constantly evolving take on modernist decor. Vice President of Herman Miller Adam Call, weighs in on the company’s history, expressing how they have continued to stay motivated and inspired over the years.
Why do the pieces produced by Herman Miller endure?
I believe they endure because they are truly original designs, not derived from market trends. Herman Miller’s early designers, like Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and many others, focused their designs on solving everyday problems they observed in homes and offices.
This resulted in sleek and sophisticated products that were both playful and functional. When you focus on solving the problem not fitting into a trend, the design should stand the test of time because fundamental human needs don’t really change that quickly.
What do these iconic pieces say about the mid century?
These pieces speak to the overall optimism of the time. There was a sense that new processes, materials, and opportunities were possible, and many designers responded to these innovations with designs that took advantage of that spirit.
During this time, there was a big emphasis on buying products that would distinctly differentiate people from the previous generation. People sought modern products that could be purchased at a fair price, and live within the family for generations. As a culture, we transitioned from that mentality to more “disposable goods” in the late 60s and 70s. It’s exciting to see that in recent years people are again caring more and more about sustainable consumption and buying quality goods that can be cherished for generations—not sent to a landfill.
What drew you to work with Herman Miller?
It sounds hokey, but I really feel like great furniture can improve the way people work and live in their daily lives. When I was looking around early in my career it felt like Herman Miller was still willing to take risks to introduce truly breakthrough designs, and I have enjoyed being a very small part of all the work we’ve done over the last 15 years.
What is your favorite piece?
The piece that has been with me the longest (through many moves and different apartments) is an Eames Aluminum Group Lounge chair. It is comfortable, very light weight, durable, and has a beautiful silhouette that I just never get sick of looking at and using daily.
Want to learn more about Herman Miller’s most iconic designs? Click here for look into collecting notable lighting from Herman Miller artists like George Nelson.