Design Insider is so excited to announce our new BCFA Member of the Month, Herman Miller. With over 100 years in business, Herman Miller has inspired furniture design for decades, placing their importance on design, the environment, community service and the health & well-being of their employee’s and customers. We caught up with European Ancillary Lead, Lucy Cousins and Amy Aushcerman, Head of Archives and Brand Heritage about recent developments within the contract sector spanning across their impressive range of brands, reissues of product favourites and an exciting new collaboration launching next month.
Please could you introduce yourself and your role at Herman Miller?
Lucy Cousins, European Ancillary Lead
Amy Auscherman, Head of Archives and Brand Heritage
Which brands do you work with in your role?
Lucy: Herman Miller, Geiger, naughtone, Design Within Reach, Maharam & HAY
Amy: All brands across MillerKnoll
Are these brands focused on the contract sector?
Lucy: Yes, and they’re growing into the domestic sector as well. Other than HAY which is already firmly represented in the domestic market, designs from Herman Miller, Geiger and Design Within Reach can also sit perfectly across all channels. The contract market has become more domesticated over the last few years and our customers have been envisioning their spaces a little differently post-covid, so we want to meet wherever they are. We’re looking at which solutions our customers want to take home and making sure we can meet them there.
Are there designs which you are particularly drawn to or enjoy?
Lucy: I’ve always been drawn to designs of mixed materialaity like the Crosshatch Lounge Chair by EOOS for Geiger. The use of parachute cord is genius and something I hadn’t seen before. Through the use of the cord, it voids the need of a bulky frame or foam to maintain comfort. The parachute cord is so strong it does all the work and maintains a sound, refined structure. For me, the Crosshatch Lounge Chair is the definition of form meeting function; its supremely comfortable, light, flexible and beautiful.
Amy: I’m personally very excited about the recent reissue of Wilkes Modular Seating. It’s a design I live with in my own home, but also know that it will perform well in any environment. The soft rounded cushions provide the perfect amount of comfort and support for working and relaxing.
What is the history of Ray Wilkes’s design and why was it selected for re-release?
Amy: Wilkes Modular Seating has become extremely popular on the vintage market over the last few years. With this relaunch it does feel like we are giving the people what they want, but Herman Miller also sees a wider opportunity for the design now than when it first launched. We frequently mine the Herman Miller Archives to reevaluate designs from our past that could be relevant again today and “Chiclet” is comfortable in both environments where Herman Miller shows up most: the home and the office.
In what ways have you updated Wilkes to meet Herman Miller’s standards of today?
Amy: In the instance of Wilkes Modular Seating, we are manufacturing the design exactly as it was originally. The biggest update is that we have more textile options than ever for this iconic design.
Can you tell me about Studioilse’s new collection? Was there a particular focus on material selection?
Lucy: Another celebration of mixed materiality, Studioilse launched the Betwixt Chair under the Herman Miller brand earlier this year. Designed as an ‘everywhere’ chair with the final look and feel of the piece being up to the customer. The customer can define the side chair, armchair, bench or stools perfectly for their space choosing from steel frame finishes and oak, walnut, upholstered and even cork finishes for the seat, back and arms – all whilst maintaining a great, comfortable sit. I like the idea that someone could design Betwixt as the star of the space or a piece to blend into their surroundings.
Do you have any European design collaborations coming up in the next few months you are excited about?
Lucy: We’re super excited to launch Comma next month, a truly inviting piece designed by Michael Anastassiades for Herman Miller. Anastassiades has a way of paring a design down to its essential elements and Comma is no exception. It has its own personality and takes cues from a minimalist Japanese-meets-Scandinavian aesthetic. With geometric circle seats, wood frames at right angles and pops of stain colouring developed for the design, there’s just something that lures you to Comma. This will be the second partnership with Michael, the first resulted in the beautiful Spot Stool you can see below.
What do these pieces say about the historical and future identity of the Herman Miller brand?
Amy: Herman Miller is great at honouring its legacy, but also using it to look forward. This year we are launching new products from two of the world’s best designers working today, while also reviving a design from our past that is relevant once again. Despite the fact that there are decades between the designs of Wilkes Modular Seating, Betwixt and Comma, the pieces live together comfortably. To me this is a true illustration of Herman Miller’s ability to maintain its identity as an iconic design brand that continues to work with new talent while also tapping into our rich design heritage.
What can we expect to discover from Herman Miller at this year’s London Design Festival?
Lucy: Great British & European design. We’re in a special year for Herman Miller where we’ve launched designs from the best local designers today. With new designs from Studioilse and Michael Anastassiades to archival re-releases from Ray Wilkes – this is a year of firsts for Herman Miller, and we can’t wait to welcome you in.
Amy: We will be throwing open the doors to our showroom at 2 Kingsway and playing host to some awesome designer talks, which I’m so excited to chair. You can check out the talks schedule here (add link) and register your interest to attend. We can’t wait to see you again.
Contact Herman Miller on the BCFA Product Finder.
The BCFA Product Finder is a unique search engine created especially for interior designers to source contract furnishing companies. Utilising this platform will support your findings for upcoming projects, with over 200 members profiles showcasing the latest product launches, new materials available, industry news, and design trends.