Herman Miller x SLAB
In 2021, the Australian architectural firm SLAB won Herman Miller’s Work, Redefined – The Design Challenge. SLAB’s winning proposal granted them a three-day trip to Herman Miller’s Office in Zeeland, Michigan.
In 2021, the Australian architectural firm SLAB won Herman Miller’s Work, Redefined – The Design Challenge. Responding to the post pandemic culture of social isolation and the popular ‘hybrid office’ model, SLAB proposed a Kit Of Pods for the Social office – a 3D printed off-the-shelf product which would put people at the centre of contemporary socially-driven workplaces.
SLAB’s winning proposal granted them a three-day trip to Herman Miller's Office in Zeeland, Michigan. Here, they discovered the people and places that have shaped not only Herman Miller’s 122-year story but also design history as a whole. With the opportunity to peruse the original archival drawings, sketches and documentation, and experiment with vigorous ergonomic and material strategies, SLAB gained insight into Herman Miller’s prevailing commitment to design excellence and innovation. Through private tours of the Eames House (Los Angeles) and DePree House (Zeeland), SLAB was also able to consider the significant contribution the Eames design has made to the foundations of Herman Miller and the modernisation of both material and standard construction today.
Proposing an adaptation of the traditional suburban masterplan, the structure of SLAB’s winning Kit Of Pods revolves around the idea of a ‘High Street’. Their specific scheme is underpinned by the pod’s grid space which allows people to “be at the centre of the office,” no matter its dimensions or size. Through the flexible architectural fabric, the pods can accommodate for different office areas and density requirement (at set ratios of 1:5 square meters of shared desk space and 1:3 square metres for collaborative space.)
Design juror Martijin Joosten defines SLAB’s people-centred approach as a cohesive working environment which “creates different areas to support the various activities that people do when coming into the workplace.” SLAB states the pockets of space in the pod that evolve out from the ‘High Street’ can also be used for “collaboration, relaxation…and centralised gardens.” From a technological perspective, SLAB’s design solution is universal, allowing it to be adapted and sustained through quick and Additive (3D-printing) manufacturing methods. These ‘different areas’ of productivity and intention ultimately aim to restore the social office experience.
SLAB’s design, a socially driven strategy amidst a post-pandemic world, is an ultimate testament to Herman Miller’s vigorous commitment to sustaining and invigorating office life around the world. The firm’s engagement with the Herman Miller headquarters, their interrogation of archival information, site visits to prolific residential projects, and interaction with advanced technology and fabrication, illuminates the brand’s ever-lasting commitment to supporting architects and designers.