Herman Miller is one of the most well-known names in modern furniture design. Though not many people are aware of this, it was Miller’s son, D.J. De Pree who started the company, using his father-in-law’s name instead of his own. De Pree worked with legendary designers George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames to build his designs into the mid-century style icons that are recognized around the world today.
“Was it possible that his furniture company was providing living environments of dubious value? Were consumers offered only interiors stuffed with over-scaled, over-elaborate, jaded furnishings?”
As far as I can tell, this is not a traditional archive. Over the summer of 2013, Herman Miller started Why, a digital repository of interviews with designers, blogs of design issues and some archival company information. So not only do you get to see cool pictures, you get to learn a lot with the photos in a really user-friendly way. I could not find any semblance of a digital archive on the site, but after some Googling, I discovered that they do in fact have a physical archive on site, but there is no information of it online.
There are several videos in the archive, on of which was an interview with George Nelson’s aide, Hilda Longinotti, who worked for the company for 21 years. She gives a firsthand account of amazing events, such as learning the proper way to speak from Nelson, designing pavilions for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, and designing the store Barney’s, one of the most recognizable department stores in New york City.
But the most beautiful video in the archive is titled “108 Years in 108 seconds” and was designed by Dutch animators in order to show the Herman Miller timeline in a way that mirrored the image of the company. Take a look and learn a bit more about how Herman Miller came to be!