MUSKEGON, MI.- The Muskegon Museum of Art
announces the creation of its first major traveling exhibition, Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller.
The exhibition opens in Muskegon on August 21, 2009 and will run through November 8, and will subsequently tour as many as 15 American cities into 2013. The exhibition explores the collaborative problem-solving design process employed at the world-renowned and West Michigan-based furniture company, Herman Miller, Inc. The interpretive exhibition is organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art (MMA) in collaboration with The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan, drawing upon that institutions Herman Miller Design Collection a comprehensive archive of the companys innovative processes and products.
MMA Executive Director Judith A. Hayners long-standing interest in modern design sparked a dream of showcasing original designed artifacts along with their drawings and prototypes. This exhibition is the fruition of her goal. With Herman Miller operating in our back yard, it is important for the Museum to hold up and examine the process of design as its been practiced in West Michigan for nearly eight decades. We decided to focus on case studies that explore design problems and solutions created by some of the talented artists who have created masterpieces of modern design for the company, and continue to do so today.
The inspiration for the exhibition came from the recent book Herman Miller: the Purpose of Design by design scholar and authority John R. Berry, first published by Rizzoli International in 2004. A second edition with updated content will be released to coincide with the exhibitions opening at the MMA. Mr. Berry also agreed to be the exhibitions guest curator. An extraordinary partnership with The Henry Ford made available the vast resources of that institutions Herman Miller Design Collection, most of which has never before been on public view. Finally, Herman Miller agreed to underwrite the exhibitions organization while affording the MMA the academic and esthetic freedom to critically explore its legacy.
Commenting on the idea behind the exhibition, Mr. Berry observed, Many people are confused by the difference between art and design. Design is a noun, a verb, and a problem solving process. It is art with a purpose. Good design requires a clear understanding of the particular need, conditions, constraints, and opportunities. Good design does not happen in a vacuum.
At Herman Miller, design is the means and the end, said Berry. It is the starting point and the destination. Since 1931, not long after its founding, Herman Miller had embraced design as a way to improve peoples lives, and through that goal, they created new industries and some of the most iconic objects of the last century. Charles and Ray Eamess molded plywood Lounge Chair, George Nelsons Marshmallow Sofa, and Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwicks Aeron Chair which populates so many offices today, are all products of Herman Miller, Inc.
The exhibition displays will be arranged to present viewers with four case studiesstorieschosen to embody four different active characteristics of good design, as a result of the problem-solving ethos of Herman Miller, Inc:
· Case Study #1: Ergonomics (Seating) Good Design Explores
· Case Study #2: White Collar Work (Action Office) Good Design Inquires
· Case Study #3: Graphic Communications Good Design Engages
· Case Study #4: Mid-Century Classics Good Design Endures
Mr. Berry explained the organization of the exhibition: Each object grouping started with identifying a needto furnish a new type of living space, for healthier seating, to effectively communicate a message, or to support new kinds of work. The exhibition uses drawings, models, prototypes, photographs, oral histories, and original designed objects to showcase the creation and evolution of many masterpieces of 20th and 21st century design by such artists as Gilbert Rohde, Ray & Charles Eames, George Nelson, Alexander Girard, Robert Propst, Steve Frykholm, Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, and others.
Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller has been organized for national tour by the Muskegon Museum of Art, Michigan, which was founded in 1912 as a division of the Muskegon Public Schools. The Museum is renowned for its fine permanent collections of American and European Art, including works by Curry, Hopper, Homer, Chase, Whistler, Van Cleve, Cranach, Pissarro, Rodin, Sisley, and Bonnard. It uses these resources to present exhibitions and public programs designed to foster life-long study and appreciation of the visual arts.