Chairs for smarty-pants: Herman Miller's history in education

Well before they became collectors' objects of desire, Herman Miller chairs were ubiquitous in classrooms across the country.

Most people equate Herman Miller and the Charles and Ray Eames designs with the modern home. But the company has a long history in education, as The Atlantic reminds us in a short post and photo gallery about how Herman Miller designed for and influenced the American classroom.

The company's entrance into the education market actually came through its research and involvement in corporate furniture design, the article notes, and specifically through the Herman Miller Research Corporation, led by Robert Propst.

Propst, who we can thank (or curse) for introducing the world to the cubicle*, spent his career trying to improve work environments. He and his team followed the research on what makes for a good working environment by going back to the education environment.

Herman Miller eventually ran pilots with Emory University, Georgia Tech and other universities in order to test out various furniture designs and room configurations. And as the photo gallery shows, its products ended up everywhere from classrooms to lounges to cafeterias.

For more on the Eames' and their designs, check out this very awesome 11-minute segment from NBC's Home show in 1956. It's positively delightful, as the host would be likely to say:

*Turns out, Propst wasn't really trying to make everyone hate their jobs, he was just trying to find more productive work environments than the open bullpen styles we see replicated in Mad Men's secretary pools. He later reportedly disowned the Office Space monster he helped create.

[via: The Atlantic]

Image: Herman Miller

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards