1949 George Nelson HERMAN MILLER COLLECTION Furniture Catalg EAMES Isamu NOGUCHI

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Seller: modernism101 (8,640) 100%, Location: Shreveport, Louisiana, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 401750255816 THE HERMAN MILLER COLLECTION Furniture Designed by George Nelson, Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Paul Laszlo 1949 Catalog with 72 pages highlighting the 1949 Herman Miller Furniture Line George Nelson [introduction]: THE HERMAN MILLER COLLECTION [Furniture Designed by George Nelson, Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Paul Laszlo]. Zeeland, MI: Herman Miller Furniture Co., 1949. Second edition, following the first edition from 1948. Oblong quarto. Full oatmeal cloth stamped in black and red. 72 pp. Black and white photographs and schematic diagrams. Elaborate graphic design in Black and Herman Miller Red throughout. A nearly fine copy. 8.75 x 11.25 hardcover book with 72 pages highlighting the 1949 Herman Miller Furniture Line, featuring the plywood chairs, tables and screens of Charles Eames, (Photographs and production specifications for the molded plywood chairs we all know and love: DCW, DCM4, LCW, LCM chairs, as well as the Dining, Card and Incidental folding tables, FSW folding screens, and the CTW1, CTW3 and CTM1 coffee tables), George Nelson's classics, along with pieces by Isamu Noguchi and Paul Laszlo.The Herman Miller furniture lines from 1948 has been called the most influential groups of furniture ever manufactured. This original catalog shows these pieces in beautiful, sharp detail. "What you make is important. Design is an integral part of business. The product must be honest. You decide what you want to make. There is a market for good design." -- George Nelson George Nelson had great things in mind when he set out to produce the first Herman Miller Collection catalogue in 1947—much to the dismay of CEO D.J. De Pree, who rejected the design based on the projected costs. But instead of downgrading, Nelson upped the ante, adding a hardcover and an unheard of three-dollar price tag. The gambit paid off (literally), and the 1948 catalog set a new standard for the industry. By 1952, Nelson had further honed his approach to honest, problem-solving design. The catalogue’s two chapters dedicated to work further refine his call for furniture that works for both the home or office, noting a contemporary shift toward “workmanlike” residential spaces that are easier to keep up, and the “warmth and informality of the well-appointed home living room” creeping into the office. George Nelson’s Foreword: “From the viewpoint of the designer, which is the only viewpoint I can assume with any degree of propriety, the Herman Miller Furniture Company is a rather remarkable institution. Seen solely as a business enterprise, it is probably indistinguishable from thousands of others scattered through the U.S. It is a small company, it is located in a small town, its production facilities are adequate but not unusual, and it is run by the people who own it. What is remarkable about this enterprise is its philosophy—an attitude so deeply felt that to the best of my knowledge it has never been formulated. “Stated in its bare essentials, this philosophy—like others that have been solidly based—is so simple that it sounds almost naïve. But it is not widely held by business, and perhaps it would be naïve if it were not so astonishingly effective. This company today occupies a very solid position as a manufacturer of modern furniture and enjoys a prestige all out of proportion to its size. The attitude that governs Herman Miller’s behavior, as far as I can make out, is compounded of the following set of principles: “What you make is important. Herman Miller, like all other companies, is governed by the rules of the American economy, but I have yet to see quality of construction or finish skimped to meet a popular price bracket, or for any other reason. Also, while the company has materially expanded its production, the limits of this expansion will be set by the size of the market that will accept Herman Miller’s kind of furniture—the product will not be changed to expand the business. “Design is an integral part of the business. In this company’s scheme of things, the designer’s decisions are as important as those of the sales or production departments. If the design is changed, it is with the designer’s participation and approval. There is no pressure on him to modify design to meet the market. “The product must be honest. Herman Miller discontinued production of period reproductions almost twelve years ago because its designer, Gilbert Rohde, had convinced the management that imitation of traditional designs was insincere aesthetically. (I couldn’t believe this story when I first heard it, but after my experience of the past few years, I know it is true.) “You decide what you will make. Herman Miller has never done any consumer research or any pre-testing of its products to determine what the market “will accept.” If designer and management like a solution to a particular furniture problem, it is put into production. There is no attempt to conform to the so-called norms of “public taste,” nor any special faith in the methods used to evaluate the “buying public.” The reason many people are struck by the freshness of Herman Miller designs is that the company is not playing follow-the-leader. Its designers are therefore not hamstrung by management’s fear of getting out of step. All that is asked of the designer is a valid solution. “There is a market for good design. This assumption has been more than confirmed, but it took a great deal of courage to make it and stick to it. The fact is that in furniture as in many other fields, there is a substantial segment of the public that is well in advance of the manufacturers. But few producers dare to believe it. “In this outline of an attitude, you will no doubt recognize several familiar patterns: there is a hint of the craftsman as opposed to the industrialist; there is a suggestion of the “better mousetrap” theory in another form, and the rugged individual with convictions is in evidence throughout. But if the philosophy sounds somewhat archaic, it is interesting to see its manifestations in terms of the furniture shown in this book. It is unlikely that any person would be equally enthusiastic—or unenthusiastic— about every piece shown, but I think it would be difficult not to conclude that the company had a real interest in exploiting some of the possibilities open to furniture today in the areas of design, materials and techniques. The furniture shown here is the result of a program as well as a philosophy. The program includes an assumption that plywood and lumber are only two of a whole range of materials suitable for furniture. A considerable amount of experimental design work is being done on new pieces that explore the possibilities of others. It also assumes that the program is strengthened by the participation of a group of designers who share Herman Miller’s particular attitudes. I belive that the range of the collection—from Noguchi’s sculptured table to Hvidt and Neilsen’s impeccably crafted pieces to Eames’ magnificent designs in molded wood, metal, and plastic—could never be encompassed by a single designer, for the various underlying approaches, while related, are too intensely personal. A final word on the Herman Miller program: its goal is a permanent collection designed to meet fully the requirements for modern living. The collection is to be permanent in the sense that it will not be scrapped for each market, or for each new “trend” as announced by the style experts. It is designed to grow, not necessarily in size, but in the perfection of its component parts. No piece will be kept if a better design can be developed to take its place, nor will a given way of making things be followed simply because that’s the way they were always made. Also, ways of living are continually changing. Again, I think, the material in this book suggests the attitude more clearly than any statement. “There is one other point that may be of interest to those concerned with problems of design: by far the largest part of the collection was designed by people trained in architecture. It may be no more than a coincidence, and I must certainly confess a prejudice in this regard, but there is this to be said for the architectural approach to any design problem, and particularly that of furniture: the problem is never seen in isolation. The design process is always related on the one hand to the houses or other structures in which the furniture is to be used, and on the other to the people who will use it. When successfully followed through, the approach of the architect-in-industry goes much deeper than styling and is far more likely to create trends than to follow them. To reinforce this point it is not necessary to use only the Herman Miller program as an example. The work of Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer, Eero Saarinen and many others could be cited. “A word about this book. It is primarily an illustrated record of furniture currently in production, and as such it has been planned for convenient use by those whose business it is to purchase or specify furniture. It is also intended as a guide for professionals such as architects and interior designers. In addition to photographic illustrations, the book presents full dimensional data, so that the relationship of rooms and furniture can be accurately studied. Design students, it is hoped, will find the book equally valuable as a reference. “All material for the book was assembled and prepared by various members of the Herman Miller Furniture Company. In planning the layout and typography of the book, I found that the restraint exercised in the choice and amount of written material most unusual in a manufacturer given an opportunity to talk about his product. Here as elsewhere the Herman Miller philosophy is manifest: let the furniture speak for itself.” In a characteristically wry 1944 correspondence with Herman Miller founder, DJ De Pree, George Nelson wrote that “your reservations on my suitability as a designer for Herman Miller Co., impressed me very much for they seem to be well founded… the question of lack of experience in the commercial furniture field is also important, but here, I am afraid, you and your associates will have to make the decision on your own.” Fast forward four years later, and Nelson once again found himself reflecting on the integrity of the Herman Miller Co., but this time, not as a potential hire but rather as Herman Miller’s founding creative director. In the 1948 introduction to the catalogue for his first ever collection for the company, he writes, “From the viewpoint of the designer, which is the only viewpoint I can assume with any degree of propriety, the Herman Miller Furniture Company is a rather remarkable institution.” Whatever leap of faith was required of De Pree to hire Nelson, the affinity and mutual respect shared between the two was undeniably fruitful. Nelson credits Herman Miller’s singularity as a result of a “philosophy” or “attitude” compounded of a set of principles—that what you make is important; that design is integral to business; that products must be honest; that only we can decide what we make, and that there is a market for good design—that allow for a degree of autonomy and innovation unavailable to companies driven by the shallow demands of the market or sales. “There is no attempt to conform to the so-called norms of ‘public taste,’ nor any special faith in the methods used to evaluate the ‘buying public.’ The reason many people are struck by the freshness of Herman Miller designs is that the company is not playing follow-the-leader.” George Nelson (1908 – 1986) possessed one of the most inventive minds of the 20th century. Nelson was one of those rare people who could envision what isn’t there yet. Nelson described his creative abilities as a series of “zaps” – flashes of inspiration and clarity that he turned into innovative design ideas. One such “zap” came in 1942 when Nelson conceived the first-ever pedestrian shopping mall – now a ubiquitous feature of our architectural landscape – detailed in his “Grass on Main Street” article. Soon after, he pioneered the concept of built-in storage with the storage wall, a system of storage units that rested on slatted platform benches. The first modular storage system ever, it was showcased in Life magazine and caused an immediate sensation in the furniture industry. In 1946, Nelson became director of design at Herman Miller, a position he held until 1972. While there, Nelson recruited other seminal modern designers, including Charles Eames and Isamu Noguchi. He also developed his own designs, including the Marshmallow Sofa, the Nelson Platform Bench and the first L-shaped desk, a precursor to the present-day workstation. He also created a series of boldly graphic wall clocks and a series of bubble lamps made of self-webbing plastic. Nelson felt that designers must be “aware of the consequences of their actions on people and society and thus cultivate a broad base of knowledge and understanding.” He was an early environmentalist, one of the first designers to take an interest in new communications technology and a powerful writer and teacher. Perhaps influenced by his friend, Buckminster Fuller, Nelson’s ultimate goal as a designer was “to do much more with much less.” “Imagining a sheet of paper as building site will give you a good sense for Irving Harper’s approach to graphic design. As the Swiss magazine Graphis noted in a 1953 survey of his print work for the Nelson Office, it’s an approach not dissimilar to that of an architect. “The page on which to print is regarded as a site on which to build…. Pictorial material, often broken into fragments, is organized by asymmetrical harmonies.” From his start working with Nelson in 1947 through his tenure as design director at the office until 1963, Harper brought a visual coherence and energy to everything he created—from furniture, to ads, to clocks—but it's in the printed collateral that his approach to design as a total experience is most easily gleaned. Be it evoking three-dimensional spatial gestures into a two-dimensional magazine spread, for example, or turning a functional object like a clock into a graphic abstraction, or giving a simple typographic treatment the textural quality of a swath of fabric, everything he designs has a deeper sense of dimension. “Formally trained as an architect, Harper studied in his native New York at Brooklyn College and Cooper Union and eventually landed his first architectural job for Morris B. Sanders, who had been invited to design the Arkansas pavilion for the 1939-40 World's Fair. He put Harper in charge of interiors, thus inadvertently altering the course of his career. As he recalled to Julie Lasky in an interview for her book Irving Harper: Works In Paper, “‘[I] found design much more interesting because it was entrepreneurial.’ In an architecture office, ‘it’s hard to rise to the top.’ And ‘design work is more varied. Everything is a first-time thing. You learn a lot more.’” Harper’s early foundational work for Sanders and then for Gilbert Rohde, the illustrator-turned-product designer who had a hand in shepherding American furniture design into the 20th century through his work with Herman Miller and Heywood-Wakefield, helped solidify Harper’s position as a designer. It also helped him land the job at the Nelson Office: Ernest Farmer, an old colleague from Rohde’s office, had moved on to work for Nelson, and it was he who convinced Nelson to hire Harper to design graphics for the office. This early foundation in 3D design informed so much of Harper’s compositional predilections at the Nelson Office, and unlike many of the furniture pieces he designed there, his advertisements—especially the collateral work for Herman Miller, for whom George Nelson was design director—were often credited to him by name. “When Nelson undertook his debut furniture collection as design director for Herman Miller, he was also tasked with creating the graphics and advertising work to support its sale. This included a new trademark that could be heat-stamped into the wood furniture. Nelson had initially approached Paul Rand, one of the most sought after graphic designers at the time (and well revered for his identity work, most notably the IBM logo) to create the mark, but when Rand backed out of the project, the job went in-house and ultimately landed in the hands of Harper. The first ad for the collection was to be printed in 1946, prior to any tangible furniture to photograph or illustrate and was limited to a two-color printing process. But like any good designer or architect might, Harper took note of his limitations, and building around them, fashioned a monumental, French-curved M in bold red, set against a black and white wood-grain texture. Harper later called it the century's least expensive corporate branding, but even despite the mark’s humble beginnings, the bones of that original M (minus the wood grain) have endured as Herman Miller’s logo—a testament to both Harper’s skill as a designer and the company’s belief in the clarity of his vision.” — Amber Bravo Please visit my Ebay store for an excellent and ever-changing selection of rare and out-of-print design books and periodicals covering all aspects of 20th-century visual culture. I offer shipping discounts for multiple purchases. Please contact me for details. 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