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Tag Archives: Herman Miller

John Edelman Steps Down As CEO of Design Within Reach

Interior Design‘s Cindy Allen and John Edelman. Photography by Ben Meyers.

Design Within Reach (DWR) has announced that its CEO, John Edelman, will be stepping down from his position, effective June 14. He will eventually transition to become the Chairman of the Board of DWR and Herman Miller Consumer. His longtime business partner of 27 years, John McPhee, will stay on as the company’s president. 

Edelman’s design-centric career began in the 1990s, when he joined his brother Sam at his shoe company Sam & Libby. He eventually left to assist his design luminary parents, Teddy and Arthur Edelman, with their business. He became president of the brand in 2001 and eventually sold the iconic leather company to Knoll for $67 million in 2007. It was in 2010 that DWR serendipitously came calling. 

In just four years, Edelman and McPhee brought the company back from death. “It was on the verge of bankruptcy when we took it on,” Edelman recalled. “By 2014, we doubled the size of the business and halved the number of stores down to 35. The company became incredibly profitable.” 

The natural next step to assure DWR’s continued rousing success was to find a partner whose aesthetic would naturally complement DWR’s modernist approach and business acumen would propel the brand to new heights. And that partner was Herman Miller. “With this partnership, we assured the longevity of our brand and formed an indelible link with one of the most prestigious design companies in the world,” Edelman said. 

Read more: Herman Miller Agrees to Aquire Design Within Reach

With this powerhouse behind DWR, it could start on the work that it’s become famous for: partnering and promoting some of the most exciting brands in the industry. Even just a small, hand-picked selection of names are quite impressive: Hay, Moooi, J.L. Møllers, Brown Jordan, Luceplan, and Gloster. “I’m so proud of all the amazing designers and manufacturers we’ve worked with,” said Edelman. “DWR played such a large role in making modern design mainstream through the designers we chose to partner with and the more than 10 million catalogs we sent out that contain their stories. We helped break them out of the sheltered world of interior design and into the vast consumer market.”

When asked what’s changed the most in the past nine years, Edelman points to the rise of the Internet and E-commerce. The advent of Pinterest, Instagram, and easy access to designers through websites and email has made it easier for the consumer to become passionate and educated about design. The one thing that Edelman believes hasn’t changed? The enduring excellence of modernist aesthetics. “Modern isn’t a trend. It’s forever,” he noted. 

As for his future, Edelman continued: “It’s been an incredible 20 years being a part of this industry, but I’ve been on a plane nearly every other week since 1988. I plan to take a little time off, but I’m not leaving forever. There’s still so much to see and do with design.” 

Read more: Jens Risom Sketches Are Brought to Life in Design With Reach’s Block Island Collection

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David Baker Architects Designs Healdsburg’s Intoxicating Harmon Guest House

Redwood slats shade the transparent façade. Photography by Bruce Damonte.

 

The small town of Healdsburg, named after its founder Harmon Heald, might have established itself in California’s verdant Sonoma County nearly 250 years ago, but it feels perfectly in tune with the times. Surrounded by vintners such as VML Winery and Jordan Winery, the town boasts an attractive central square bordered by three-Michelin-star restaurant Single Thread, gourmet bakeries and ice cream shops, and a pair of Piazza Hospitality hotels—Hotel Healdsburg and H2Hotel—designed by David Baker Architects.

Now comes a third: the Harmon Guest House, whose 39 rooms form pods around a glassed-in central courtyard and have patios or balconies facing the town or trees. “The site is narrow,” says DBA associate Brett Randall Jones, “so we made a unique room type, with an open bathroom that guests walk through to enter the main space of the room. The ceiling height, floor-to-ceiling windows, and generous depth make the rooms feel expansive.”

Sculptor Andy Vogt created the geometric artwork at the entry out of salvaged Douglas fir. Photography by Bruce Damonte.

 

Read More: 7 Inspiring Hotels to Visit in 2019

Harmon Guest House’s rooms are furnished with custom pieces and mid-century classics in palettes drawn from the landscape. “The window seats in each room turned out to be the perfect cozy spot for lounging,” says associate/interiors lead Julie de Jesus. “The custom daybed and pillows, the pendant, the windows with slats, and the table and chairs work to create this perfect space within the room.”

And just in case visitors desire more perfect spaces, the town’s only public rooftop bar can be found upstairs, with intoxicating views of nearby Fitch Mountain.

Keep scrolling for more images of the project>

To the left of Pacassa Studios’ custom reception desk, Sabine Reckewell’s multimedia installation hangs above seating by GubiAnthropologie, and Carl Hansen & Son, as well as Herman Miller stools, all around a Studio Vestri table. Photography by Bruce Damonte.
To the left, the roof lounge features Andreu World sofas and poufs by The Citizenry, with Ohio Design tables; to the right, custom tables surroundKnoll side chairs and woven Kettalseating on the deck. Photography by Angie Silvy Photography.
Exterior slats filter light across the meeting room’s white oak flooring by Nor-Cal Floor Design; the chairs are by Vitra. Photography by Bruce Damonte.
In the Founder’s Suite, a Design Within Reach sleeper sofa rests upon a Peace Industryrug, before a custom table illuminated by a Rich Brilliant Willing pendant. Photography by Bruce Damonte.
A double queen room on the third floor offers a custom Kay Chesterfield Upholstery headboard in Maharam fabric, with Treko blankets. Photography by Angie Silvy Photography.
The bridge leading down to a park along Foss Creek is ipe wood and corten steel. Photography by Bruce Damonte.

Read More: Color Reigns Supreme at Teresa Sapey’s Tunnel Lounge for the Nhow Marseille

ASID Events

NATIONAL
JUN
10
ASID at NeoCon

DESCRIPTION

NeoCon® is the world’s leading platform and most important event of the year for the commercial design industry. With nearly 1 million square feet of exhibition space, NeoCon will feature game-changing products and services from both leading companies and emerging talent–providing unparalleled access to the latest and most innovative solutions in commercial design.

 

DATE AND TIME

8:00 AM
6/10/2019 – 6/12/2019

LOCATION

theMART
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
Suite 470
Chicago, IL 60654
United States

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KEYNOTE WITH ILSE CRAWFORD OF STUDIOILSE

Date: June 11, 2019
Time: 8 a.m.
Location: NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, theMart

Stuff Matters: The Material World We Make

Ilse Crawford is a designer, academic, and creative director with a simple mission:  to put human needs and desires at the center of all she does. As founder of Studioilse, together with her multi-disciplinary, London-based team, she brings her philosophy to life. This means creating environments where humans feel comfortable; public spaces that make people feel at home; and homes that are habitable and make sense for the people who live in them. It means designing furniture and products that support and enhance human behavior and actions in everyday life. It means restoring the human balance in brands and businesses that have lost their way.

ASID INSTALLATION

Date: Throughout NeoCon

ASID is thrilled to showcase the impact of design through an exciting new installation custom designed by Elizabeth von Lehe, Allied ASID, design and brand strategy principal, HDR. The space serves as an oasis that invites visitors to engage, ask broad questions, and explore the beautiful, impactful, and sometimes surprising ways that design impacts lives.

ASID PRESENTS INSIGHTS FROM THE 2019 OUTCOME OF DESIGN AWARDS

Date: Wednesday, June 12
Time: 8 a.m.

Following the first-ever Outcome of Design Awards, created in collaboration with NeoCon, Herman Miller, and METROPOLIS magazine, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) will explore how design truly impacts lives as seen through occupancy data and analysis.

The Outcome of Design Awards (OODA) honor firms that showcase the power of design through research-driven results and innovative, humancentric concepts. This panel, moderated by ASID, will explore how this design approach can be implemented across projects and will highlight the 2019 OODA winning projects and the data that clearly says it all.

STUDENT PROGRAMING: DESIGN PATHWAYS

Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Time: 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. (panel); 10:30 a.m. – Noon (tour)

Panelists: Meena Krenek, ASID, Gensler; David Euscher, ASID, LEED AP, Corgan; Carolyn Ames Noble, ASID, Ames Design Studio; David Cordell, ASID, Perkins+Will; Jennifer Quail (Moderator, editor-in-chief, i+D)

Showroom/Exhibit Spaces: Allsteel, Benjamin Moore, Humanscale, Keilhauer, Sherwin Williams, True Residential, Wilsonart, Brown Jordan, Construction Specialties, Teknion and Mohawk

Why are trade shows important to the life of an interior designer? A panel of experienced design professionals will explain why trade shows are essential to your career and why it’s imperative to attend them. Our experts will give you insight on what questions to ask, how to evaluate products, and why it is so critical to your success to make connections and establish strong vendor relationships throughout your career.

After the panel discussion, you will break into small groups and tour the show floor with one of our panelists to receive guidance on how to make the most of your time at these important professional events.

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Valerio Dewalt Train Blends Virtual and Natural Worlds for YouTube Headquarters Lobby

PROJECT NAME YouTube HQ Lobby
LOCATION San Bruno, California
FIRM Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
SQ. FT. 5,000 SQF

When YouTube took over the former Gap headquarters in San Bruno, California, it knew the 5,000-square-foot lobby required a refresh. The space needed to be welcoming, adaptable, and a versatile showcase not just for the brand, but also the work of YouTube’s 2 billion users.

Enter the team at Valerio Dewalt Train, who reduced the double-height atrium to its metallic structure illuminated by a full-length skylight. A green wall and stacked benches on the north side offer room to socialize. But the heart of the project is a digital wall. “It leverages a massive low-resolution screen into the wall construction,” says the firm’s principal Bill Turner, “creating an abstract dynamic backdrop to the space.”

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Enter the NYCxDESIGN Awards by April 19

Read more: Vocon Opts for Locally-Inspired Design at Its Cleveland Headquarters

The LEDs are embedded directly into Camira’s Gravity acoustic fabric. Photography by Mariko Reed.

There are 35,000 LEDs embedded around the displays, which are activated when users approach medallions on the floor beneath ceiling sensors. “They embody YouTube’s core principals while fostering a sense of discovery,” says studio director for media objectives Crystal Adams. Or, in other words, to click and play.

Keep scrolling for more images of the project > > 

A social area gathers chairs by Muuto and Andreu World around Schiavello tables, with custom banquettes upholstered in Rivet by Camira. Photography by Mariko Reed.
Corral poufs sit before a green wall by GSky. Photography by Mariko Reed.
Herman Miller’s Spun chairs rest upon floors of polished concrete and ash. Photography by Mariko Reed.
The reception desk is Russian Birch plywood with steel powder-coated in a glossy black and frosted Plexiglass. Photography by Mariko Reed.
Medallions are painted and sealed into the concrete finish. Photography by Mariko Reed.

Read more: Gensler Fashions a New Brooklyn Showroom for Lafayette 148

Continue reading Valerio Dewalt Train Blends Virtual and Natural Worlds for YouTube Headquarters Lobby

WHY AUTHENTIC IS ALWAYS GOOD DESIGN

Primo Orpilla, FIIDA, Principal and Co-founder of Studio O+A

I’m often asked for my definition of “good design.” Like design itself, the answer to that question changes constantly. When I first started in this industry 30 years ago, good design was all about efficiency—getting function out of a space by arranging its occupants in tidy, reproducible patterns. When tech came along with its “question everything” culture, good design became more focused on meeting individual needs—the need for comfort, for self-expression, for really good coffee somewhere nearby.

GOOD DESIGN EQUALS COMMUNITY

Today, I think good design has evolved into a broader concept of community, an environment that functions as a healthy and meaningful ecosystem. Through all these definitions one thing has remained constant: good design is authentic. If that sounds like Dieter Rams’ 11th principle, it’s probably because it grows from the same roots that sprouted Dieter’s other 10—humility and integrity. Everyone recognizes and responds to quality. You don’t have to have a maker’s temperament to feel the value in something that was lovingly crafted and put together with pride.

As a designer of workplaces and, more recently, of workplace furniture, I have come to understand the impact subtle interactions with texture have on the way we feel about our day—the sound a knuckle rapped on solid wood makes, the depth of color in a true ceramic tile, the subtle message of reassurance we get from settling onto real leather. These are pleasures available only in the original.

More Community Design: Advocacy in Design

REPRODUCTIONS CAN’T REPRODUCE THEM.

For that reason, I always encourage clients to use authentic Herman Miller or Knoll products. These iconic designs are timeless because the tradition of quality they represent never expires. That quality should not be undermined with fakes. I am also on the lookout for new artisans and authentic manufacturers—the Charles and Ray Eames of the future. The design industry has created a highly receptive market for companies and individuals dedicated to creating and distributing original work.

O+A is always happy when we can specify products from MASH Studios or Dsegnare. Even happier when we can work with those fine craftsmen and women to make custom items for our custom interiors. When I was partnering with Kimball Office on the design for my multi-functional workstation, Canopy, I realized a truly successful product encompassed all of the definitions of good design—it was efficient, it met the user’s individual needs, it contributed to the healthy ecosystem of the workplace. To touch all those bases, to make something that will evolve alongside the changing values of accelerating times, it is necessary to slow down and do the careful, attentive work that only comes from original effort.

You can’t knock off quality. Knock your knuckles on a table to hear why.

 


Primo Orpilla is the co‐founder of Studio O+A, a multi-disciplinary San Francisco design firm that has changed the way we think about work and workplace. Recently named Global Chair for Student Experience at the International Interior Design Association, Primo’s new focus is empowering the next generation of designers. In 2016, O+A won the Cooper Hewitt Design Award for Interior Design. In 2017, FRAME Publishers released a comprehensive retrospective of the firm’s work: “Studio O+A: Twelve True Tales of Workplace Design.”

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‘RESIMERCIAL’: WHY WE NEED A BETTER TERM

Posted on 05/08/2018
By Kadie Yale

Ever since the ill-fated relationship between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie began in 2004, our society has been in the downward trend of mashing two words together and calling it a day. Case-in-point: “resimercial”, which is the trend of residential aesthetics in the commercial marketplace.

This insistence in mashing two words together to coin a phrase was started by the media in a lazy attempt to explain a more complex idea, but in my opinion, those of us in design media should nix this terrible trend. Resimercial is the best place to start.

NO ONE REACTS WELL TO RESIMERCIAL

The first and most significant reason to retire resimercial is the negative response that it gets. Most people don’t know what it means, which automatically negates the entire reasoning behind combining two words. One should be able to understand that the speaker is describing the relationship between the two things which make up the word. Of those who do know what resimercial means—or who have had the word defined for them for the first time—a majority of the response is sour.

The last thing anyone working in the commercial design industry wants is for someone to automatically react in revulsion to a word describing their product or design.

Never heard of Resimercial? We’ve got you covered.

RESIMERCIAL GIVES THE WRONG IMPRESSION OF COMMERCIAL

Second, in many ways the word resimercial cheapens designs. This isn’t to say that residential design is in any way secondary to commercial design, but for some it brings to mind less hearty products at best and companies such as IKEA at worst. It makes sense since residential products are not created with the same type of end user in mind. They need to accommodate at most a dozen or two people on special occasions such as holidays rather than the dozen a day or more that high-traffic commercial interiors deal with regularly. However, while the word resimercial may make commercial goods seem less hearty, the truth is that products from every sector are becoming closer in terms of what type of wear-and-tear they’re able to handle. Residential has benefitted from the blurred lines of commercial and home by providing more durable products at a lower price point far more than contract furniture has benefitted from taking on the aesthetic of residential.

HOME AND CONTRACT HAVE ALWAYS EXISTED TOGETHER

Third, it ignores the historic ways in which commercial and residential design have always been intertwined. The idea of products specifically for the contract market is still relatively new. To be precise, one could pinpoint the invention of the cubicle in 1964 by Robert Propst for Herman Miller as the dawn of office design. Even the hospitality market only began to flourish as the middle class did in the post-war period, hitting its peak within the last few decades. Not to mention, the impact of the previously-sterile and uncomfortable interiors of institutions such as hospitals, schools, and government buildings is something those in the industry are just beginning to research.

Many products have always had one foot in residential and one in commercial.

All this being said, it’s understandable that one would want to easily explain the more laid-back aesthetic that is finding its way into the commercial market, particularly as we transition from the more rigid impression of offices—meaning board rooms and desks—towards the reality that space is fluid according to the needs of the individual.

Next, More: The Resimercial Takeover

AMBIDEXTROUS DESIGN: A PROPOSED CHANGE

Teknion, for example, calls its resimercial products “soft contract”. It’s a solution that, in my opinion, works better than resimercial because it is the antithesis of the rigid office space. However, I don’t think it’s quite right, Aas it sounds as if all soft contract products need to be cushioned and upholstered.

Instead, I would say a more appropriate term for describing the ways in which the more laid-back aesthetic of residential is penetrating into the commercial market is “ambidextrous design”. The term highlights the ways in which design from all markets are overlapping. Healthcare is taking from hospitality, retail is taking from restaurant design, and commercial and residential are swapping design ideas left and right.

The word ambidextrous gives the product described more strength in that it doesn’t diminish any characteristic of the design. Being ambidextrous is seen as a strength and describes the ability to use both sides of the brain; the combination of feeling and creativity with logic and precision.

This perfectly defines the way in which design is headed. It understands that beauty and comfort can be matched to the scientific perfection technology allows and can be blended into the characteristics that a space requires, whether it be a strong and sparse conference room or a comforting hospital lobby.

COVERINGS: FOUR HIGHLIGHTS IN HOSPITALITY AND RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS

Continue reading ‘RESIMERCIAL’: WHY WE NEED A BETTER TERM

Milan Design Week’s Most Impactful Installations

As Milan Design Week 2018 draws to a close, we revisit the installations that made an impact.

“Beyond the Deep” by Lindsey Adelman x Calico Wallpaper

Beyond the Deep by Lindsey Adelman x Calico Wallpaper. Photography by Lauren Coleman.

Lighting doyenne Lindsey Adelman joined forces with Calico Wallpaper to present “Beyond the Deep,” an immersive undersea installation at Via Pietro Maroncelli 7. It marks the launch of Adelman’s Drop System, a De Stijl–inspired lighting series that features hand-blown mini globes affixed to verdigris-finished brass tubes. Backdropping Adelman’s fixtures are Calico Wallpaper’s brand-new Oceania collection in three shades and fluid-like Sumi collection in a custom colorway.

“ACT III” by Apparatus

“ACT III” by Apparatus. Photography by Paola Pansini.

After creative director Gabriel Hendifar mined his personal cultural history as a first-generation Iranian-American to conceive Apparatus’s latest product introductions, he transformed the studio’s Milan showroom (Via Santa Marta 14) into a snapshot of bygone memories that simultaneously looks to the future. Hendifar infused each piece with Persian history—the brass-tubed Talisman sconce replicates details found on statues in Persepolis, while the gently curved Drum table evokes the Tombak, a foundational instrument in Persian music.

“Le Roi” by Marc Ange

“Le Roi” by Marc Ange. Photography by Éclat Public Relations.

After his installation Le Refuge took home top honors as the most Instagrammed piece of Milan Design Week 2017, Marc Ange returns both bigger and bolder. His signature leaf lamps, this time in a shimmering gold, beckon visitors inside a throne-like room where a giant bear lounge chair—illuminated by two Refuge lamps—presides over a duo of Les Araignées chairs, each upholstered in royal blue Sunbrella® fabric. Le Roi displays at Wallpaper*’s Mediateca di Brera space (Via Moscova 28) until April 22.

“Open Sky” by COS x Phillip K. Smith III

“Open Sky” by COS x Phillip K. Smith III. Photography courtesy of COS.

Phillip K. Smith III’s work challenges perceptions of light and space, particularly in California’s Palm Desert, where he’s based. So when Swedish fashion brand COS approached him to devise a site-specific installation during Salone del Mobile, he took on a new medium: 16th-century Italian architecture. Nestled inside Palazzo Isimbardi, Open Sky’s faceted mirrors reconfigure the surrounding colonnade into a geometric abstraction. The buildings dramatically pull away as one moves toward the center, until fully encircled by vast sky’s languorous drift and color changes. “Each participant is in control of how the sky and architecture merge across the nearly 14-meter-diameter surface,” Smith notes, making each experience unique.

“For You Everyone” by Herman Miller

“For You Everyone” by Herman Miller. Photography by Ben Anders.

To celebrate the launch of Cosm, Herman Miller’s first auto-tilt chair designed by Studio 7.5, the storied office furniture company transformed their Brera Design District digs into a veritable high-design automobile showroom called “For You Everyone.” Neon signage invites visitors inside, where Cosm’s size and color variations preside on clusters of pedestals. Visitors can then test drive the task chair’s Auto-Harmonic Tilt, experiencing how adaptable the workplace of the future is—and how Herman Miller is responding to the ever-changing office landscape.

“Into Marble” by Nendo and Marsotto edizioni

“Into Marble” by Nendo and Marsotto edizioni. Photography by Takumi Ota.

Prolific design firm Nendo teamed with Marsotto edizioni to devise “Into Marble,” a poetic exhibition where clean-lined marble furniture melts into liquid. Each piece sits askew on puddle-like pedestals, to which Nendo manually surfaced with gentle ripples. Pieces by Claesson Koivisto Rune, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Malouin, and Konstantin Grcic all make an appearance. “Into Marble” runs until April 22 at Spazio Bigli (Via Bigli 11/A).

“My Dream Home” by Piero Lissoni, Elisabetta Illy, and Stefano Guindani

“My Dream Home” by Piero Lissoni, Elisabetta Illy, and Stefano Guindani. Photography by Saverio Lombardi Vallauri.

Photographers Elisabetta Illy and Stefano Guindani present “My Dream Home,” an exhibit that juxtaposes photographs of Haitian children alongside drawings of their “dream homes.” Interior Design Hall of Fame member Piero Lissoni collaborated with Dmeco Engineering to design the venue: twelve stacked shipping containers in the colors of Haitian houses. All proceeds from the show, open until April 28 at the Cortile d’Onore of Universita Statale, will be donated to Fondazione Francesca Rava to construct homes in Cite du Solei, Haiti.

“Swarovski Palazzo” by Swarovski

“Swarovski Palazzo” by Swarovski. Photography by Mark Cocksedge.

To mark the third phase of its home decor collection, Swarovski reveals four new product collaborations inside a grand greenhouse set within a hidden courtyard of a neoclassical Milanese palazzo (Corso Venezia 16). Objects by John Pawson, Nendo, Patricia Urquiola, and Peter Pilotto—who all push boundaries of crystal artistry—are featured, as are new lighting collections from Swarovski Crystal Palace by Tord Boontje and Marjan van Aubel.

Observatory by Lee Broom

“Observatory” by Lee Broom. Photography courtesy of Lee Broom.

Lee Broom’s stellar-inspired lighting fixtures, two years in the making, take center stage at “Observatory,” a traveling installation in a Grade II–listed building (Via Lovanio 6) in the heart of the Brera Design District. Eclipse, Orion, Aurora, and Tidal all glisten amid gallery-like environs, which Broom will show during NYCxDESIGN and the London Design Festival. “I wanted to create a celestial collection of sculptural lighting which is progressive and experimental using the latest LED technology,” says Broom.

“Altered States” by Snarkitecture x Caesarstone

“Altered States” by Snarkitecture x Caesarstone. Photography by David Zanardi.

To kick off Eurocucina, quartz manufacturer Caesarstonetapped Snarkitecture to explore the kitchen island at Fuorisalone. The New York–based collaborative practice then examined liquid as the kitchen’s most crucial element, channeling ice, water, and steam to create Altered States at Palazzo dell’Ufficio Elettorale di Porta Romana. Anchoring the amphitheatrical installation is a circular kitchen island surfaced in layers of Caesarstone White Attica, a nod to natural topography. Over 250 metal mesh pedestals in monochromatic gradients—emblematic of Snarkitecture’s oeuvre—gather around. 

“Perfettamente Imperfetto” by Dimorestudio

“Perfettamente Imperfetto” by Dimorestudio. Photography by Andrea Ferrari.

One of three installations by Dimorestudio, Perfettamente Imperfetto (Via Solferino 11) showcases the studio’s Progetto Non Finito and Oggetti collections. Decidedly neutral backdrops, such as a corridor lined with white parachute silk, highlight precious materials and artistic expression, as seen in spider-like floor lamps that nod to Louise Bourgeoise.

Continue reading Milan Design Week’s Most Impactful Installations

William McDonough Champions Sustainable Design With the Circular Economy

Poetic visionary and tireless evangelist for the closed-loop industrial cycle known as Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough is the prototypical TED Talks rock star of sustainable design. Approximately 8,000 products bear the C2C imprimatur, a certification created by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. The former dean of the architecture school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he now serves as a visiting executive lecturer, while William McDonough + Partnersoperates nearby, working on such projects as environmentally forward manufacturing plants for Herman Miller and the Ford Motor Company.

McDonough grew up in Tokyo after World War II, so the globetrotting lifestyle comes second-nature to him. He’s as agile at strategizing ways to reuse consumer and industrial waste as he is when discussing ancient philosophy. After his latest trip to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland—where he designed the ICEhouse, short for Innovation for the Circular Economy—he paused to remind us how designers can save the planet.

Interior Design: The ICEhouse has become the cool hangout for the Davos cognoscenti.

William McDonough: It’s been a quiet place to meet outside the conference center, without badges—a small pavilion full of emptiness. Someone who didn’t know my personal background said it must have been designed by someone who was born in a Japanese paper house. And that is true.

The walls are only 1 inch thick, but they are fitted with Aerogel translucent R-15 nanotechnology insulation. Really space-age. You think you’re going to freeze, and actually you’re warm. The light is perfect, too. It’s slightly magical—and also a way for people to physically be inside the circular economy.

The ICEhouse’s Aerogel R-15 nanotechnology insulation. Photography by William McDonough + Partners.

ID: What is the circular economy?

WM: Instead of simply taking, making, and discarding, we can remake things— and start designing for that. The ICEhouse is constructed from a few simple materials, with nylon carpet from my C2C collection for Shaw Industries. Everything can be reused or recycled, ad infinitum.

ID: How have people reacted to the ICEhouse?

WM: Two CEOs told me that the best meeting of their life occurred there. When they had an idea, it became light, beauty, perfection.

William McDonough in front of the ICEhouse in Davos, Switzerland. Photography by Nick Maxted.

ID: What sort of ideas?

WM: SABIC announced a plan to take back plastic trash from “bottom of barrel,” all the stuff you can’t normally recycle. It’s going to upcycle it using pyrolysis, or non-oxygen combustion, at a specially designed plant. Essentially, the process leaves behind a sludge that contains all the inks, glues, and other contaminants that can’t be recycled while pulling out the hydrocarbon. We get back the oil that makes recyclable plastics and stop putting fugitive carbon into the world.

ID: What’s fugitive carbon?

WM: Carbon is innocent. Carbon is a tool in the hands of humans. The user gives it a value, positive or negative. Fugitive carbon is released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, deforestation, food scraps in landfills, and so on. Carbon can be toxic. But there’s “living” carbon, which is organic, flowing in biological cycles, providing fresh food, healthy forests, and fertile soil. That’s also different from “durable” carbon, which is locked in stable solids such as coal and limestone or recyclable polymers that can be reused.

It’s important, at this moment of the fourth industrial revolution, to learn a new language. Being less bad is not being good. We have to be more good. That’s what we have to tell children.

Plantronics headquarters in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. Photography courtesy of William McDonough + Partners.

ID: How many kids do you have?

WM: Two. And I consider myself an honorary child. The world needs adults operating under child supervision. Children think Cradle to Cradle is obvious.

ID: What’s on the C2C horizon?

WM: International Flavors & Fragrances has launched a C2C scent—and such companies don’t typically give out a formulation to review against C2C standards. Also, new C2C plastics are coming out. We even have C2C-certified T-shirts. Every single molecule of those shirts has been designed for human health, made by people who are properly rewarded, using 100 percent renewable energy and water that is so clean that they reuse it. So we can do this. We can live like this.

Fashion chain C&A’s recyclable cotton T-shirt, C2C-certified Gold. Photography courtesy of C&A.

ID: Do you have time for architecture these days?

WM: We always like to have a house in progress—we’re finishing an exquisite one in Santa Cruz, California. In Luxembourg, we’ve been commissioned to design a hotel based on principles of the circular economy. With various clients around the world, we’re working on solar arrays that also help grow food. Our solutions don’t do only one thing at a time. We can do solar plus food plus water. Plus, plus, plus.

ID: What was your first product conceived as Cradle to Cradle?

WM: It was Eco Intelligent polyester for Victor Innovatex, almost 20 years ago, when I was first thinking about indoor air quality. We surround ourselves with things that we breathe, see, and touch. Why shouldn’t they be healthy and beautiful? When you’re working with a matter of principle like this, you just keep going. Sure, it’s tough, but it’s great work, so get on with it.

The aerobics studio at Nike’s European headquarters in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Photography by William McDonough + Partners.
Also certified Gold, Method cucumber gel hand wash. Photography courtesy of Method.
For Shaw Industries, his nylon carpet Essay of Clues, Cradle to Cradle–certified Silver by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. Photography courtesy of Shaw Contract Group.
Steelcase’s C2C-certified Think chair, disassembled. Photography courtesy of Steelcase.

> See more from the February 2018 issue of Interior Design

Continue reading William McDonough Champions Sustainable Design With the Circular Economy

HOUSE TOUR: Bunny Williams Transforms A Homely A-Frame Into An Inspiring Studio Space

With 22 bucolic acres, Bunny Williams was only missing one thing at her legendary Connecticut retreat: an inspiring work studio where she could be her fiercely creative self. No longer.

 

Continue reading HOUSE TOUR: Bunny Williams Transforms A Homely A-Frame Into An Inspiring Studio Space

Brian Walker Caps 29-Year Career at Herman Miller, New CEO Search Underway

After 29 years at Herman Miller including 14 years at the helm, president and chief executive officer Brian Walker has announced his retirement from the Zeeland, Michigan-based industry giant.

“Now is the right time to transition the company to its next generation of leadership,” says Walker. “We developed the building blocks necessary to navigate the changes we predicted would impact the core office furniture marketplace, and we remain committed to these priorities as we focus on maintaining our momentum.”

Continue reading Brian Walker Caps 29-Year Career at Herman Miller, New CEO Search Underway

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