When word that Yves Behar was working on a new chair for Herman Miller reached the Wallpaper* offices, we sped across the pond to the manufacturer's HQ in Michigan to find out more. There, we not only discovered the chair in question - the Golden Gate Bridge-inspired 'SAYL' (see our October issue) - but a remarkable archive of original design drawings for the now ubiquitous Eames Lounge Chair, alongside George Nelson's manifestos and vintage advertising artwork.
A more prestigious, and historically rich, chair manufacturer would be hard to find: Herman Miller's reverential relationship towards its designers has helped put industrial design on the map. With no internal design team, the company chooses its creative talent carefully and nurtures it over time. 'It's the designer's vision we're striving for,' says Don Goeman, Herman Miller's executive president. 'But that is a responsibility as much as an opportunity. The designer is given the reigns, but if the vision is not right, the team realises they are not being pulled in the right direction.'
Another treasure we discovered on our rifle through the archives was a 1956 film. It shows the iconic Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman being assembled by Herman Miller worker, Dick Hoffman.