Attitudes Towards Modern Living: The Mid-century Showrooms of Herman Miller and Knoll Associates

Petty, Margaret Maile (2016) Attitudes Towards Modern Living: The Mid-century Showrooms of Herman Miller and Knoll Associates. Journal of Design History, epw004-epw004.

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Abstract

The independent manufacturer’s furniture showroom, as defined by Herman Miller and Knoll in the mid-twentieth century, presented a highly controlled and controllable context in which both companies and their designers familiarized American architects, designers and consumers with new ideas about living with modern furniture and architecture. Embracing consumerism within a modernist idiom, these mid-century furniture showrooms provided a unique interior typology wherein the reconciliation of modernism, mass-produced goods and personal expression was not only possible, but also accessible. Challenging long-held practices and beliefs within the nation’s conservative home furnishings market, Herman Miller and Knoll superseded retail buyers by reaching out directly to customers. The independently-run showrooms allowed both companies to engage their customers in a sophisticated and sustained proposition about the role of modern furniture and architecture in daily life. Examining the showrooms designed for Herman Miller and Knoll Associates during the latter 1940s and early 1950s, this article explores the ways in which these spaces were utilized as both laboratories and showcases, demonstrating the adaptability of modern furniture and interiors to individual lifestyles.

Key words

Charles and Ray Eames display design furniture Herman Miller Knoll Associates modernism showrooms

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 94919
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Charles and Ray Eames display design furniture Herman Miller Knoll Associates modernism showrooms
DOI: 10.1093/jdh/epw004
ISSN: 1741-7279
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: The authors
Deposited On: 13 Apr 2016 00:39
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2016 00:02

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