What is So Special about a Herman Miller Chair?
There are some names in furniture design that stand out among the crowd. Many of today's great designers are influenced by a particular design movement that burst onto the scene around 100 years ago. This was the Modern movement led by a designer from the Bauhaus school of design in Germany.
Great names such Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius – both architects who would become giants of industrial design – plus artists such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky were part of a movement that brought all aspects of art and design together and moved dramatically away from the Victorian and Edwardian influences that had gone before.
What the Bauhaus school did for furniture design was bring in a set of rules that enabled simple, chic, and stylish furniture to be designed in a clean and beautiful, practical and comfortable, and simple to manufacture.
Many modern designers still stick to these rules is a sign of just a breakthrough the Bauhaus designers were making. We want to talk about one brand – Herman Miller – famous for some very particular designs of the chair. So, who was Herman Miller, and what does the brand stand for today?
Who Was Herman Miller?
Herman Miller is a long-established brand primarily known for several office chairs that are now regarded as classic Herman Miller designs and widely imitated. We'll look at one of the classic designs shortly, but first, a bit about who Herman Miller was and why this remains a special brand in modern furniture.
The Herman Miller company was founded in 1923 in Michigan. However, Herman Miller was not the founder of the company. He was the father-in-law of one D.J. De Pree who bought the Michigan Star Furniture Company with the help of some funding from Miller. De Pree thought it apt to name the company after him.
What happens next is that De Pree begins to work with some of what would become the most famous and iconic names in furniture and industrial design. Among these would be the Eames' – Charles and Ray – about whom we will talk in more detail later. First, we want to give you a look at one of the most iconic Herman Miller designs, the Aeron chair.
Why is the Aeron Chair so Revered in Design Circles?
The Miller Aeron chair takes all of its influence from the Modern design movement that was growing in pace in both Europe and the USA around the company's founding in 1923.
Aspects of the movement were already making waves in the USA. However, the Aeron chair would not be part of the story until it was first produced in 1994.
By this time, Modern design had a hold not just on furniture but on architecture. Indeed, Mies van der Rohe had been responsible for many buildings in Chicago in the mid-20th century, including the still-futuristic Seagram Building.
The mesh back and seat, ergonomic design, and simple use of plastics and metal broke the mold where chairs were concerned. Suddenly, everyone wanted an Aeron chair, and imitators began to emerge. None, however, matched the original, which is now part of the permanent display in New York's Museum of Modern Art. We promised a bit more about the Eames' so let's look at what this important pair of industrial designers leave as their legacy.