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MillerKnoll: The great responsibility of great design

As MillerKnoll offers a deep-dive into some of the company’s ESG initiatives with the recently released 2023 Better World Report, we take a closer look at their unwavering commitment to transformative design – and the belief that with great design comes great responsibility.

MillerKnoll: The great responsibility of great design

In the ever-evolving realm of modern design, MillerKnoll stands as the unrivalled global leader in the creation of the environments we live, rest, work and play in. As a dynamic collective of 14 premier design brands, MillerKnoll’s platform encompasses an unparalleled spectrum of products and offerings, defined by their distinctive articulations, experiences, stories and craftsmanship.

The power of design

Yet, amidst this wonderfully diverse tapestry of creative voices, there is a unifying belief that bonds these unique identities – the conviction that design holds the transformative power to better the world.

“Our brands have storied legacies, each filled with their own individual triumphs. But at our core, we are connected by the way we solve complex problems with the power of design,” Andi Owen, the CEO of MillerKnoll, writes in the opening pages of the 2023 Better World Report. And it is this unshakable belief in the revolutionary potential of design that underpins MillerKnoll’s pledge to redefine what’s next.

Naturally for MillerKnoll, looking towards the future has always meant learning from the past and building a well-informed picture of the present through a steadfast commitment to research. For decades now, the brand’s research and innovation teams have seamlessly informed – and inspired – the product development process, breathing genuine human insights into beautiful forms and shapes. They have also collaborated with MillerKnoll’s clients to create environments that embody the perfect balance of aesthetics, functionality and ergonomics, and devising a spirited yet data-backed fusion of longevity, engagement and adaptability.

This commitment to research-backed design translates into timeless products created to transcend both fleeting design trends and the uncompromising power of the passing of time itself. The brands forming the MillerKnoll platform ensure that the quality and functionality of their designs is second to none. That’s why, their products can withstand ten, fifteen or even twenty five years, while the global defect rate stands at a remarkable 0.0973% – a metric that underscores MillerKnoll’s dedication to excellence like no other.

The great responsibility

But this pursuit of excellence defines the company in a holistic sense. “Today, we approach designing a better world through three primary lenses: sustainability, community impact, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging,” Andi points out in the report, and this sentiment is clearly echoed through the company’s numerous ESG undertakings. MillerKnoll collaborates with global partners and brands to minimise their carbon footprint, eradicate waste, and source materials responsibly, while actively encouraging their suppliers to adopt a more sustainable approach.

Leading by example, the global design leader has now switched to 100% renewable hydropower and wind energy at their key facilities – Spring Lake, Michigan and East Greenville, Pennsylvania. That accounts for an impressive 25% of MillerKnoll’s total energy use. In addition, many industry professionals will be aware of the fact that some of the most iconic pieces brought to life by brands united under the MillerKnoll umbrella – such as Herman Miller, Knoll or CBS – incorporate ocean-bound plastic. This initiative marks a momentous pivot towards environmental consciousness not just for the MillerKnoll collective, but for the design world in general. By demonstrating that emblematic creations like Aeron and Eames Shell Chairs can be composed of recycled materials starts closing the gap between what’s considered timeless, quintessential and iconic, and what we associate with waste.

These sustainability initiatives are certainly some of the most ambitious in the industry. But this desire to continuously push the boundaries and challenge the status quo is firmly tied to the core identity of the brand. “At MillerKnoll, we have the power — and the responsibility — to spark positive change, make a difference, and design a more beautiful world,” Andi writes.

The open invitation

These words certainly evoke a powerful sense of commitment to the world MillerKnoll exists and operates in. They demonstrate that choosing designs from MillerKnoll’s comprehensive brand roster isn’t just an investment in a catalogue of renowned products and unrivalled customisation capabilities. And it isn’t just the convenient luxury of being able to partner up with a single vendor with unmatched scale, scope and market reach to bring to life a myriad of diverse projects with unparalleled expertise. Andi’s statement is an invitation to every architect, designer, specifier and design aficionado to join the global design powerhouse on the inspired journey of redefining the landscape of modern design – and redesigning the world at large.

If you’d like to find out more about MillerKnoll’s environmental, social and governance initiatives, you can find the 2023 Better World Report here.


We think you might also like to read MillerKnoll: Design history in the making.

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