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NeoCon: Being Herman Miller
CHICAGO — Along with significant health care and higher education campaigns, Herman Miller this year choose to attack the individual workspace with a line of accessories known as The Be Collection.
“This is really part of the company’s overall strategy of finding new markets to grow the business,” said Robyn Hofmeyer, general manager of the collection. “Not only does this give us an opportunity to sell more accessories into the market, but it’s also an opportunity to reach new customers by focusing on the individual.”
The collection combines eight new and existing product platforms around a mantra to “Be Comfortable, Be Organized, Be Connected.”
To properly address the issue of comfort, Herman Miller looked at the most common complaints of individual workers. It had the technology available to address concerns of acoustics, lighting and posture, but had no answer for what it considered to be the No. 1 and No. 2 workplace complaints: “I’m too cold” and “I’m too hot.”
“It’s really difficult for a traditional HVAC system to keep every one individual happy,” said Wayne Baxter, marketing lead for the Herman Miller Creative Office. “You really need to focus on the individual space and allow them to tailor their temperature to their preference.”
Using technology developed for luxury automobiles and licensed exclusively to Herman Miller in the built environment, the Creative Office developed the C2 Climate Control system. The device, roughly the same size as an average laundry iron, is designed to sit on the work surface and affect the 12- to 18-inch space between it and the user. Using only 1.5 amps of DC power, the device can heat or cool that “pocket” to the desired temperature within seconds.
A simple touchpad scroll controls the speed of the fan. A one-button control switches the device from heat to cool. It can run continuously and has a “sleep timer” that shuts the unit off after four hours. The C2 filter is GREENGUARD certified and reusable after cleaning.
Listed at $300, the C2 requires 90 percent less energy than the typical space heater. According to Baxter, anecdotal evidence suggests that after addressing the concerns of individuals who are consistently too hot or too cold, the office thermostat can be slid in the opposite direction, resulting in a significant savings in heating and cooling costs over time. Herman Miller is currently investigating that theory through third-party research.
Updates to pre-existing solutions include an expanded line of ergonomic keyboard systems and monitor arms, including a combination laptop and projector stand; RoomTune, a portfolio of attractive, wall-hung acoustic management tackboards; the Stoa rail system and the first redesign of Herman Miller’s paper-management trays since 1984, both by Jeff Sokalski, designer of last year’s award-winning My Studio Environments; and Ardea, a freestanding or mounted personal light designed by Yves Behar.
The Leaf personal light, another award-winning Behar design, and the Babble voice privacy device also will be marketed as part of The Be Collection.
Earlier in the year, Herman Miller launched the Convia Programmable Infrastructure, an electrical and data infrastructure that can be adjusted with one touch via a remote control wand. Convia, an architectural element distributed through a Chicago-based division of the same name, won the Gold award in the Best of NeoCon competition’s Workplace Technologies category. C2 won the Silver.