The Herman Miller Story
What many people might not know is that the Herman Miller brand could have easily been "D.J. De Pree". Mr. De pree was the owner of Michigan Star Furniture when, in 1923, he asked his father in law to become a majority shareholder of the Michigan Star Furniture company. His father in law was Herman Miller.
The Michigan Star Furniture company was established in 1905. At that time, the company mostly focused on reproducing different versions of traditional furniture for the home. When the Great Depression hit, they realized that they were going to need to make some changes in order to remain competitive. At this time, they made the decision to shift their focus to modern furnishings. As it turns out, this was a great decision.
As a result, by the 1940's, the company had phased out their traditional furniture in order to remain truly focused on the more modern designs. Knowing that his father in law was a man of great integrity, De Pree made the decision to rename the company after him. In 1923, Michigan Star Furniture officially became the Herman Miller Furniture Company. The company name was later revised, in 1960, when it became Herman Miller, Inc.
Since then, Herman Miller has been on the constant look out for ways to improve. They have maintained working relationships with top designers such as Yves Behar, Isamu Noguchi, Bill Stumpf, George Nelson and others. In the early 1950's, Herman Miller set out to expand their environmental awareness. They even created an environmental policy called "Perfect Vision", a company-wide endeavor with the goal of entirely eliminating any type of negative environmental impact by the year 2020.
Today, Herman Miller is known as a global leader in the furniture industry. Their presence can be witnessed in more than 100 countries and they have manufacturing facilities in The United States, Great Britain, Italy and China. However, the Herman Miller headquarters remain grounded in Zeeland, Michigan.
In 1964, the Herman Miller brand got a major boost with the roll out of the Action Office systems of modular office furniture. These modern designs were created by Robert Probst. They were first manufactured and presented to the public as Action Office I. In the coming years, the Action Office II design would be rolled out and would become the origin of the modern day cubicle. Any cubicle design in the last 50 years, by any brand, is a byproduct of the original Herman Miller Action Office II model. In other words, all roads lead back to the Herman Miller brand.
One of the main things that Probst wanted to accomplish with the Action Office II series was to come up with a plan that would allow for modifications to the cubicle so that the space could better reflect the actual needs of the employee. This type of "modular" office furniture would help to eliminate the need for purchasing new cubicles. Now, with interchangeable parts and multiple configuration choices, businesses could simply adapt to their changing needs. One of the greatest impacts this had was on the environment.
As a man of great integrity, Herman Miller had always been environmentally conscientious. In 1991, the company initiated their first official statement on their environmental policies. Their initial, and most important goal, was to create a "Zero Landfill Use" policy. Companies can use and re-use their Herman Miller Action Office modular furniture, without the need to send their old cubicles to the landfill in order to make room for new furniture.
One of the ways in which a company can continue to have fresh, new looking office furniture, is to consider using remanufactured Herman Miller cubicles. Essentially, this involves taking used office cubicles and then stripping them down to the bare bones. Then they are rebuilt with new fabrics to cover the office panels, new laminates to cover the work surfaces, and fresh paint on all the hard surfaces.
Cubicle Storage Solutions
The storage options in a Herman Miller cubicle can basically be broken down into three groups, flipper door cabinets, pedestals and lateral files. A typical cubicle will have one of each.
- Flipper Door Cabinets - Also known as overheads, or overhead storage, flipper door cabinets are popular for their convenience, usability, security and aesthetic value. The doors to these units flip up, allowing the employee to access items that they would like to keep out of sight. Herman Miller flipper door cabinets include a lock, adding a security aspect to these types of storage units. The flipper door can be covered in a fabric to match the fabric on the rest of the cubicle, or a different, complimenting fabric may be chosen.
- Pedestals - Also known as filing drawers, provide the employee with the ability to store files, miscellaneous office supplies and personal items. In a Herman Miller Action Office cubicle, pedestals can be free standing and mobile, or they can be attached to the work surface.
- Lateral Files - Not every cubicle will feature a lateral file but it is a great option for employees who need to store sensitive company records in a locked, secure storage unit.
Herman Miller Cubicle Options
When it comes to cubicle design, there are many choices. Since systems furniture is completely configurable, just about any size can be achieved. Typical cubicle sizes are 8X6, 8X8 and 8X10. Since many companies now utilize electronic storage options, some have even gone to using cubicles that are 6X6.
In a typical Herman Miller cubicle, options would include the height of the panels, layout of the work surfaces, storage solutions and electrical options. Other options include tack boards, task lights, pencil drawers, AKP (keyboard tray), panel, tackboard and flipper door fabric, work surface laminate and trim colors.
For cubicle size consideration, one needs to take into account the size and shape of the existing space to work with. Professional office space design is recommended, since there are many aspects to consider.
For instance, let's say that you have a wall that is 18 feet long and you would like to place three 6X6 cubicles against that wall. What many people do not realize, is that in order to place three 6X6 cubicles in that space, the wall would actually need to be 19 feet, 2 inches long. This is due to what is known in the industry as "panel creep". It is the thickness of the panel, which needs to be taken into consideration when measuring and planning for Herman Miller cubicles. Three 6X6 cubicles against the wall would typically require four panels to be accounted for when calculating panel creep. Since each panel is 3.5 inches thick, you would need to add 14 inches to the length of the wall in order to incorporate this.
Power considerations are also often overlooked. In general, every six cubicles should have their own power circuit. This will vary depending on the types of electronic equipment that will be used in each of the cubicles. Also, Herman Miller cubicle panels can either be powered or non-powered. Powered partitions actually have power running through them and so, an employee can plug their electronic equipment right into the cubicle wall.
Key Herman Miller Resources
Official Herman Miller Site | Herman Miller on Linkedin | Herman Miller on Twitter | Herman Miller on NY Times
Herman Miller on Pinterest | Herman Miller on Facebook | Herman Miller on YouTube
CBS News Video About The Future of Herman Miller
The Future of The Herman Miller Brand
If history teaches us anything, it is that the Herman Miller brand will not be going away in the near future, if ever. Having survived and flourished for nearly a century, Herman Miller only continues to get better. Their forward thinking engineers help to keep them one step ahead of the competition and the products speak for themselves.
The dedication to excellence has not at all diminished over the years. In fact, it has been just the opposite. Herman Miller continues to innovate in ways that truly reflect their earliest goal of moving the furniture business into the modern age.