Herman Miller Why Design

It Starts With “Why?”

Herman Miller Logo

Why Design celebrates the language Herman Miller uses to ask questions and seek answers to problems. The design process is a journey into the unknown—or as George Nelson once quipped, “I have never met a designer who was retained to keep things the same as they were.” Before Herman Miller focuses on what or how to make something, they begin with a simple “Why?” In Why Design, we explore the world through the eyes of Herman Miller’s designers and their unique points of view.

We partnered with Herman Miller to create their first global campaign. Our aim was to focus on the people behind the design, and what drives and inspires them. We used the opportunity to share their collaborative relationships with designers through a campaign that included a series of films, website, as well as outreach to inspire the creative community and reinforce Herman Miller’s design leadership.

Passion Drives Design

We approached 12 designers from 8 different design studios around the world to get a close-up look at their passions and how they influence each designer’s work in unexpected ways. From San Francisco to New York, from London to Berlin, we directed 8 films featuring world-renowned designers in the places where they produce creative work and draw inspiration—Yves Béhar of fuseproject; Don Chadwick, co-creator of Aeron; Irving Harper of the Nelson Office; Ayse Birsel, author of Design the Life You Love; Studio 7.5 who designed the Mirra and Setu Chairs; Steve Frykholm, Creative Director of Herman Miller; Gianfranco Zaccai, co-founder of Continuum; and Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of Industrial Facility.

Irving Harper shared stories behind the hundreds of paper sculptures throughout his home. He made them in his free time to relieve stress over the course of 50 years.

Yves Béhar compared surfing to improvisational jazz and the design process.

Don Chadwick talked about using the camera as another set of eyes, which allowed him to see things others don’t see.

Steve Frykholm, whose work is in MoMA’s permanent collection, gave us a tour of his horse farm and took us backstage at his local ballet.

Immersive Storytelling

The website features a dynamic interface that allows users to scroll through different designers. When users select a story, the interface automatically scrolls up into an immersive full-screen video mode. Each story also has a photo gallery that takes you deeper behind the scenes and a detailed designer profile featuring selected work. The films were released weekly on the Why Design website, giving people a reason to come back again and again to find new stories and inspiration.

Why Design inspired design enthusiasts at a global scale, gaining earned media on publications including Fast Company, PSFK, Core77, Curbed, Hypebeast, and swissmiss. People across the world from New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Belgium, and Hong Kong shared the campaign and videos on social media, increasing Herman Miller’s global reach.

“Every designer sees things differently, and in looking through others’ eyes, all may find inspiration. On Herman Miller’s Why Design...you may find yourself inspired by your career all over again.”

— Architect Magazine