Every year, famed furniture manufacturer Herman Miller showcases student work at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City. This year’s group, taken from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and the Pratt Institute, looked to redefine the workplace. The question the young designers sought to answer was how to bridge the gaps between working and living, and between the office and the home.
Cranbrook students in the school’s 3-D design department looked to the question of Rest and Concentration in the Workplace. Six innovative seating and desk concepts were selected, and the designs were made into prototypes by Herman Miller for the show. For anyone who’s worked in an office (whether it’s standard cubicle, or attempting to be new-age), these designs are pretty cool.
Designs like Douglas Leckie’s bench with a blanket-like upholstery and cushions that can be moved into different resting positions and Kyle Fleet’s wooden rocking chair (”Private Rocker”), that is covered in sound-dampening wool to offer “acoustic privacy” are like nothing I’ve ever seen in an office of mine before, and really do a good job of blending comfort, work and privacy. A perfect example of this blend is Damee Hong’s “Office Lounge,” a two-position chair that easily transforms from a place to rest to a place to concentrate.
The Pratt Institute created what they called Body and Mind, creating furniture designs that were mood-lifting, promoting productivity and individual vitality. The designs included Youju Rhee’s rocking lounger, a full body chair that “cradles and comforts” adults as well as Kelly Proscio’s “Atlas Stool,” desinged to promote proper bone alignment and staying true to the theme, a heightened connection of the body and mind.
Working with students is good for a company like Herman Miller, synonymous with modern furniture design, by making them more likely to make more creative and disruptive choices with their designs. A collaboration like this also simultaneously gives students an opportunity to not only see their ideas become real but also be put up for critique by their artistic and professional community to help them grow as designers.