The publication is a deep dive into the history of Herman Miller, an innovative furniture company— that covers its founding in the early twentieth century through today.
For over a century, the Michigan-based company has played a pivotal role in the evolution of modern and contemporary design, producing timeless classics while creating a culture that has had a remarkable impact on the development of the design world.
The book spans ten chapters and includes thousands of rare illustrations that all help to tell the Herman Miller story in a new way, documenting its defining moments alongside its key leaders.
Amy Auscherman spoke about her book Herman Miller: A Way of Living at the Ann Arbor Library last Friday. She shared compelling historical imagery and brought the house down with her humorous anecdotes. The lecture was in partnership with Docomomo MI.
Amy Auscherman has managed Herman Miller’s design archive since 2014. She also served as an editor for WHY Magazine, curated exhibitions, and contributed to design history scholarship through writing and lecturing. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, AIGA’s Eye on Design, AXIS, Curbed, Dwell, Fast Company, PIN-UP, and Surface. Podcast and television appearances include TED’s WorkLife with Adam Grant and Viceland’s Nuts+Bolts with Tyler, The Creator.
Amy Ausherman manages a warehouse filled from top to bottom of design archives. collection after collection of comprehensive drawings, correspondence with designers and notes. Pieces of fabric, sketches and prototypes. Advertisements and samples. All piled strategically in a strictly regulated climate.
To get even more material for the book, she headed over to the film collection archives that call the Library of Congress their home.
Amy pored over one million photos, negatives, and prints at the National Archives. She reviewed images from photos shoots that could only be categorized a sculptural-- seeing furniture as art pieces as she worked on completing the book.
Of note is that the adminastrative assistant at Herman Miller are the ones that actually made these archives possible. And Amy pointed out the importance of personal self archiving.
The Henry Ford (museum) is the largest recipient of Herman Miller furniture and it is worth noting that Cranbrook hosts open storage tours of their archives that include pieces from Herman Miller.
In a disappointing conclusion-- it was stated that a large portion of Noguchi designs are mia. But interestingly enough-- and to highlight the importance of Herman Miller's collection techniques: at one point, Nuguchi called Herman Miller to ask for his coffee table.