With more than 100 years of history, Herman Miller is a company that places great importance on design, the environment, community service, and the health and well-being of their customers and employees. They constantly work for a better world around us by designing and developing award-winning furniture and related services and technologies that improve your environment, whether it’s an office, hospital, school, home, an entire building, or the world at large.
Innovative business practices and a commitment to social responsibility have established Herman Miller as a recognized global company. In 2010, they were again cited by FORTUNE as both the “Most Admired” in their industry and among the “100 Best Companies to Work For” while Fast Company named Herman Miller among the “Most Innovative”.
An early zap came in the 1930s, when he was an architectural student in Rome. Before returning home, an idea struck him: He would travel Europe and interview leading modern architects, hoping to get the articles published in the U.S. He succeeded, and in the process introduced the U.S. design community to the European avant-garde. This set in motion a sequence of what he called “lucky”career breaks that were really the inevitable outcomes of his brilliance as a designer, teacher, and author.
The first break was being named an editor of Architectural Forum magazine. Working on a story there in 1942, he was looking at aerial photos of blighted cities when—zap!—he developed the concept of the downtown pedestrian mall, which was unveiled in the Saturday Evening Post.
Soon after, another zap led to the Storagewall, the first modular storage system and a forerunner of systems furniture. The Storagewall was showcased in a 1945 Lifemagazine article, causing a sensation in the furniture industry. Herman Miller founder D.J. De Pree saw the article and was so impressed that he paid a visit to Nelson in New York and convinced him to be his director of design, which spurred Nelson to found his design firm, George Nelson & Associates. The warm, personal, and professional relationship between Nelson and De Pree yielded a stunning range of products, from the playful Marshmallow Sofa to the first L-shaped desk, a precursor of today’s workstation.
Nelson once wrote that Herman Miller “is not playing follow-the-leader.” That’s one reason why George Nelson & Associates worked with Herman Miller for over 25 years as they shepherded design into the modern era.