If we were to describe Herman Miller furniture in three words, it’d be streamlined, modern, and stunning. From its humble beginnings in Michigan to the world-class furniture manufacturer we know and love today, Herman Miller Inc. continues to set the gold standard in home and office furnishings.
Herman Miller originally started out in 1905 as the Star Furniture Company, producing historic revival style furniture. In 1923, it was purchased by DJ De Pree, in help with a loan from his father-in-law, Herman Miller. As a token of gratitude and admiration, the company was renamed the Herman Miller Furniture Company (later, Herman Miller Inc.).
During the Great Depression, it became more important than ever to explore new products in the shrinking market. In came Gilbert Rohde, a modernist designer who gave advised De Pree to turn the company 180º and focus on innovation. It was at that point, in 1933, that Herman Miller began the journey that would eventually lead it to become a leading producer of modern furniture.
Architect George Nelson joined the team as director of design in 1945, and began not only contributing his own designs, but recruiting a number of talented designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and Alexander Girard. With these collaborations, Herman Miller took the world by storm and produced some of its most iconic pieces, many of which are still in high demand today.
Iconic Herman Miller Furniture
Many Herman Miller furnishings are easily recognizable for their breathtaking designs and unique silhouettes, created with the optimal comfort experience in mind. Herman Miller Inc. continues to produce most of these designs today, while also doing extensive research to improve upon even the most classic of designs.
Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is definitely one of the most well-known pieces of modern furniture. With luxurious leather upholstery and rich molded wood accents, this classic piece invites you to kick back and relax. One of the innovations found in the Eames Lounge Chair is the patented “shock mounts”, a critical aspect of the comfort factor. It allowed the chair to move slightly with the body, and combined with the permanent 15-degree angle of the seat, created a weightless experience. As a result of their revolutionary design, Eames Lounge Chairs have found their ways into not only the homes, but also museums across the globe.
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
With all the talk lately about ergonomic furniture, the Herman Miller Aeron chair was one of the groundbreaking designs that changed the way people look at office chairs. Designers Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick took every detail into consideration, from material to size-inclusivity. The Aeron chair did away with fabrics that would build heat and humidity, and instead used their own specially engineered Pellicle, which helped to maintain comfortable skin temperatures. Over two decades after its debut in 1994, Don Chadwick remastered the Aeron, maintaining the original shape but adding new technology to fit the needs of today’s workers. It’s no wonder these chairs were (and still are!) one of the most popular pieces of office furniture.
Nelson Marshmallow Sofa
The Nelson Marshmallow Sofa is anything but basic. This eye-catching piece almost seems like its floating on air, with eighteen “marshmallow” cushions guaranteed to lift your spirits. The best part? The Marshmallow Sofa comes in a variety of fabrics and colors, and cushions are detachable, allowing them to be interchanged with other those of other sets to create truly one-of-a-kind designs. Just to make things even better, an extension element is available, with 6 additional cushions that can connect two sofa units, so you can have a Marshmallow Sofa of indefinite length! This sweet treat will definitely steal the center of attention in any room it’s placed in.
Nelson Coconut Lounge Chair
For another food-inspired design, the Nelson Coconut Lounge Chair is a whimsical yet extremely simple piece of furniture. This versatile chair is designed with shallow sides, a higher backrest, and gentle curves to provide freedom of movement with support where you need it. While it may not look like much initially, the coconut chair is created with comfortable, durable materials, for an enticing lounge chair that lasts. Supple leather upholstery is molded into a study, lightweight plastic shell, with a three-legged bent-steel base. Offering a stylistically unique edge, the distinctive Nelson Coconut Lounge Chair has become a staple in many homes and offices.
Isamu Noguchi was an art legend, creating sculptures out of everything and anything, so it’s only fitting the table that bears his name became a legend as well. The story behind the Noguchi table is one for the books. Isamu Noguchi had originally created a small model table for Robsjohn-Gibbings, before being sent to a Japanese internment camp during World War II. When he returned, he found his design published under the British designer’s name. Through this dark period of his life, Isamu Noguchi created this iconic piece as revenge, though it bears an intensely calm atmosphere. With two delicately balanced, curved solid wood legs form a tripod, and a glass top, the Noguchi table is more than just a piece of furniture. It is a work of art.
Lead photo courtesy of Herman Miller