Our Tenets

The Design Tenets communicate Herman Miller's view of design, helping us balance form and function, maintain our standards of quality, and educate the entire Herman Miller community about one of the things that matter most to us. Each of us need to make our view of design a part of each decision we make.

Human Centered

We design for people. The user is always at the center of our design thinking. The size of type, the intuitiveness of operation and controls, the degree to which something improves the art of everyday living, all of this begins with understanding the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people

From our products to our employee benefits to the way we meet our customers, everything we do at Herman Miller starts and ends with people.


Design solves a problem. No design exists in a vacuum. For design to endure and have relevance over time, we believe it must solve a problem for people. There are many kinds of problems; researching and understanding them comes first; good design results.

A group of engineers (left) map out improvements to the Herman Miller Performance System, the very process that underpins production lines like Aeron (right).


Everything relates to the problem. Anything contrived merely for the sake of effect must be ruled out. D.J. De Pree reminds us that our designs have nothing gratuitous, and not a single molecule more than necessary.

The Leeway Chair designed by Keiji Takeuchi is pared down to the essentials and connected with incredibly intricate joinery.


We don’t copy. Truly understanding a problem leads to authentic and new ways of solving it: New materials, new processes, and sometimes even innovation. “We decide what we make,” said George Nelson.

To get to a design as industry-shaking as Aeron, designers Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick had move through some pretty unorthodox prototypes.

Evident Quality

The quality of our work is apparent. Our work must be crafted and durable. The details communicate quality; as Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details, they make the product.” D.J. said a good design must have “permanence” and a “long life."

The Eames Lounge and Ottoman by Charles and Ray Eames is lovingly made in Michigan.


Always protect the environment. We should always consider the environmental impact of materials and processes. Can we advance art or science without harming the environment?

This image by Anna Kövecses illustrated our 2017 Better World Report.

Beautiful and Useful

Do people want to own what we make? Our work should express clear purpose and obvious utility. Charles Eames called this notion “good goods,” useful objects that are beautiful in their own right.

Little is more beautiful or useful than the home Charles and Ray Eames designed for themselves in 1949 in Pacific Palisades, California.


Does it say “Herman Miller”? Our work should be filled with that special spirit that belongs to Herman Miller: energetic, vital, human, passionate, and compassionate. Our spirit includes a sense of the playful, a sense of humor, and hospitality.

Designer Steve Frykholm poses in front of the famed Picnic Posters he designed for the company picnic in West Michigan.

Beyond Expectations

Produce surprise and delight. Our designs go beyond the obvious wants and needs of our customers. In ways large or small, they surprise people by solving problems as yet unseen, or by simply lifting the spirit.

The Eames Shell Chair comes in countless combinations of bases, seats, colors, and materials.


This is the way it has to be. At our most successful, we create designs that are perfectly simple and natural. Solutions this right have the elegance of a materialized formula and the beauty of sculpture.

With its self-adjusting tilt and one continuous seat and back, the Cosm Chair by Studio 7.5 couldn’t have taken any other form.