Steve Frykholm is rare among in-house graphic designers, who tend not to make a career in one company for fear that they may become stale and repetitive. Frykholm joined Herman Miller in 1970, and has produced an impressive graphic communications portfolio for the celebrated furniture maker over the past 45 years. Back when financial annual reports were the design showpiece for most companies, all eyes were on Herman Miller to see what Frykholm came up with. Inevitably, it was something wonderful, fresh, and engaging. Frykholm established a graphic brand for Herman Miller that didn’t emphasize the repetition or placement of the logo, as much as meeting the company’s reputation for bold, original design. So, it is not that surprising that the silk-screened posters that Frykholm produced for the annual company picnic over the past 20 years have been included in New York’s Museum of Modern Art permanent collection. This brief video was produced by Dress Code, a New York-based production company.
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Newell Rubbermaid’s new Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, marks a monumental shift in the company’s design thinking and practices. This consolidation of design functions in a single location addresses how design in the 21st century has become a team activity that pulls in disciplines beyond design.
In 2012, after Newell Rubbermaid adopted its Growth Game Plan strategy focused on four winning capabilities, including design and R&D, it brought in acclaimed designer Chuck Jones as its first Chief Design and Research & Development Officer to make the company more agile and responsive to consumers through design. Jones’ reputation preceded him, having successfully built global design and development teams that boosted sales and won awards for innovation at companies including Whirlpool and Xerox. Here, Jones talks about how Newell Rubbermaid is creating a brand-and-innovation-led company that is famous for design and product performance.
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What better way to showcase the newly released Eames Century Modern font collection than to print each letterform on a Mid-Century Modern LTR (Low Table Rod) table designed by Charles Eames? A collaboration between type designer House Industries and Herman Miller Japan, the Eames alphabet table is a limited edition series of 80 tables adorned with A to Z letters, numbers and ornaments from the Eames Century Modern font. House hand-printed each tabletop at its Grand Rapids, Michigan, factory and then returned the tops to Herman Miller for attachment onto the metal rod base and packaging in a special House-designed wooden crate. House owner Andy Cruz says, “As with most House Industries projects, I tried my best to make the packaging for this limited edition something you wouldn’t throw away once the table was removed. Who doesn’t like a printed wooden crate that can do double duty as a storage container?” Good point.
Now for the bad news. The custom Eames LTR tables are probably sold out by now, since only 80 tables were made in total. Forty were offered at the Herman Miller Reach Exhibition in Hong Kong in September and the other 40 at the HM Tokyo Showroom in October. If there are any leftover crates, I’d be willing to settle for one of them.