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News > DP Festival > 100 Years of Excellence

100 Years of Excellence

28 Sep 2023
DP Festival

Herman Miller celebrates its centennial milestone by revisiting its iconic Salone and Design Days exhibitions, putting the spotlight on graphic highlights from the original Herman Miller 100 exhibits. This journey promises a nostalgic and enlightening experience. 

This exhibition pays tribute to the graphic designers and artists who have played a pivotal role in shaping Herman Miller's identity and influencing design trends. It's a celebration of their boldness, rigor, and the infectious joy that defines Herman Miller's heritage. 

Graphic Design Evolution at Herman Miller: From Traditional to Iconic Modernity 

The story begins in 1930 with the appointment of Gilbert Rohde as Herman Miller's first design director. Founder D.J. De Pree took a bold step in transitioning the company from traditional to modern design. Rohde's architectural training and Bauhaus education brought a fresh rigor to Herman Miller's traditional furniture, complemented by Peggy Rohde's marketing materials that showcased the new direction. 

In 1945, George Nelson joined Herman Miller, solidifying storytelling and design partnerships with the likes of the Eames Office and Alexander Girard. Under Nelson's guidance, graphic pioneers like Irving Harper, responsible for the enduring "M" in Herman Miller's logo, and Tomiko Miho thrived. 

The 1960s and '70s, marked by the Pop Art movement and artistic liberation, brought idealism and playfulness to Herman Miller's graphics. From the Swiss-influenced, Helvetica-heavy designs of John Massey to Steve Frykholm's exuberant Summer Picnic series, the company's graphic identity flourished in this era. 

Barbara Loveland and Linda Powell led the company through the postmodern era of design leadership in the '80s and '90s. Herman Miller's graphics extended worldwide, from traveling exhibitions to the revolutionary Living Office illustration system. 

Alexander Girard, the founding director of Herman Miller's textile division, left an indelible mark. His career was characterized by using graphics to create meaningful motifs, reaching its peak in the early 1970s with the Environmental Enrichment Panels, some of which will be on display and available via auction during DesignPhiladelphia. 

To experience this remarkable exhibition in person, visit the DesignPhiladelphia MillerKnoll Celebration of Design, held at the gallery within the Center for Architecture and Design from October 5th to 15th. 

But that's not all—mark your calendar for a special Reception and Silent Auction on October 12th, with all proceeds benefiting the Diversity in Design Collaborative (DID). Among the items up for auction are limited-edition prints of the John Massey-designed Eames Soft Pad Group poster, originally created in 1970. These hand-numbered prints, produced at the original 32" x 48" size in an edition of 500, embody Massey's belief in infusing each piece with a life beyond its intended purpose. 

The DID Collaborative, launched in June 2021, is on a mission to drive systemic change by fostering diversity and improving conditions for Black creatives in the design industry. Through shared values, collaborative efforts, and measurable action plans focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, DID is reshaping the field. This event offers an opportunity to celebrate design's rich history and contribute to a more inclusive future. 

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