What's in creating a fashion collection

Building a collection

Introduction to the 1948 Herman Miller Collection
by George Nelson

From the designer's point of view, the only point of view I can rightly take, the Herman Miller Furniture Company is a truly extraordinary institution. If viewed solely as a business company, it is likely indistinguishable from thousands of others across the United States. It is a small business, based in small town, its manufacturing facilities are adequate but not unusual, and it is run by the people who own it. What is extraordinary about this company, however is, is his philosophy, an attitude that goes so deep that, to the best of my knowledge, it has never been put into words.

If you formulate its core points, this philosophy - like others that have a solid foundation - is so simple that it almost sounds naive. But it is not widespread in the world of business, and it might be naive if it weren't so amazingly effective. Today this company occupies a very solid position as a manufacturer of modern furniture and enjoys a prestige that is in no relation to its size. The attitude that determines Herman Miller's behavior, as far as I can tell, consists of the following principles:

What you do is important. Like all other companies, Herman Miller is subject to the rules of the American economy, but I have never seen it save on processing or surfaces in order to target a sought-after price segment or for any other reason. Additionally, while the company has expanded manufacturing significantly, the extent of that expansion will be determined by the size of the market that accepts furniture of the type that Herman Miller makes. The product is not changed to grow the business.

Design is an integral part of business. In the thinking of this company, the decisions of the designer are just as important as those of the sales or manufacturing department. If the design is changed, this is done with the participation of the designer and with his consent. There is no pressure whatsoever to adapt the design to the requirements of the market.

The product has to be honest. Herman Miller stopped making replicas of ancient shapes almost twelve years ago because its designer Gilbert Rohde convinced management that imitating traditional designs is aesthetically insincere. (I couldn't believe this story at first, but after my experiences over the past few years I know it's true.)