Herman Miller Headquarters Tour

By Christin Troutman, CID

“We can teach ourselves to see things the way they ARE. Only with vision can we begin to see things the way they CAN BE.”
Max De Pree – former CEO of Herman Miller

I recently returned from a two day Herman Miller Headquarters tour in Zeeland, Michigan. We visited their Living Office, production lines, a Charles Eames House that recently was honored as a historical landmark, and attended a Performance Environment CEU, but it was the interactions with their Executive Leadership and Legacy Ambassador that was the most impactful. This experience was a true inspiration. As a designer, I find it is sometimes so easy to be so focused on the “to-dos” of schedule and technical execution that if you are not careful, you may lose sight of a projects’ full potential. The Herman Miller philosophy is about empowering and supporting the entire design team. The leadership from the top down encourages everyone to see beyond what is typical and allow your design to develop into its full potential. We should always acknowledge that there are important human factors in all things and that great design should attempt to address them all. With the danger of becoming preoccupied with the schedule, budget and technical realities of a project, designers need to ensure that it does not hinder our mission to design spaces as a complete experience. As designers and architects, we constantly strive to achieve a connection between how spaces are programmed to be used and how people will experience these spaces physically, intellectually and functionally, but also viscerally – as the best human performance and wellness depends on it.

Leaders of any design team should strive to support their team in achieving the full practical potential of a given design challenge. Leadership should encourage our teams to be true to themselves by supporting, encouraging and feeding the creativity and vision of the entire team. Every member of the team is integral to the end product. Tapping into each team member’s strengths, revisiting the vision, making great, inspiring design a part of our everyday dialogue, opening lines of communication and encouraging growth – THAT is the only way to develop vision into reality.