The Theory of Furniture Design


I’ve just wrapped up a two-day speaking engagement at NeoCon East 2013.  I received great feedback on both social media sessions, and had a chance to meet some new friends. I learned that creative people are creative people – whether the medium of design is print, online or inside a space.  And I enjoyed it tremendously.

I spent a lot of time checking out the convention floor to see how furniture manufacturers marketed themselves to the design community in attendance.  The two leading players in the industry are Herman Miller and Steelcase.  And they couldn’t have marketed themselves any differently, while both advocating for very similar concepts.

First – the Herman Miller space.  Rather than focus on the furniture they build, they developed an entire theory of the workplace and how it has evolved over time.  With wall-sized graphics they showed how offices have gone from hierarchical communities to ones now defined by cross-functionality and collaboration.  And, how that influences how we like to work (both alone and in groups) and the atmosphere that provides a platform for doing so. Image


Steelcase, on the other hand, focused more on how technology has transformed the workplace, and specifically how they have adapted their furniture design.  By focusing more on the products than the theory, they provided potential customers with inspiration for ideas.  In particular, I was impressed with the video-conference workstation, and the technology-enabled conference table/workspace.


I was impressed at the very different approaches the companies each took, and I’m sure it pointed to philosophical differences in how they operated.  (I was also impressed at the white carpet all along the show-room floor – only a design conference could pull that off.)

If you were at the show, let me know what your highlight was.



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