Claire Saeki speaks to Steve Frykholm, the man behind Herman Miller’s iconic graphic design, at REACH Hong Kong 2011.
October 12th, 2011
Four decades is a long time but Steve Frykholm’s reason for staying at Herman Miller is the opportunity to work on “good projects – more than on occasion”.
In the meantime he has become famous, been described as “legendary” and has work on display in multiple locations, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
When asked about the projects of which he is most proud, Frykholm doesn’t immediately mention the graphic and arresting Herman Miller picnic day posters, which have brought him much attention and of which a set of 20 recently sold for USD7000.
Sweet Corn, HM picnic poster, 1970
Instead he points to the company reports, that he has been putting together for the company for 35 years. Genuine pride emits from him as he describes his yearly task to improve on the year before. They are benchmarks of design.
2002 annual report – with disposable poncho attached for ’coming through the storm’
His most recent project is a poster for Herman Miller’s REACH event (Sep 16-17) in Hong Kong, discussion of which shows first hand the joy he clearly still gets from his work.
When creating the poster Frykholm was pondering images of China and Herman Miller icons, including the big lazy panda bear and the Eames Lounge chair.
“I said ’marry the two!’”, he says clapping his hands in exclamation.
Original sketch (left) and the final poster (right)
The graphic black and white of the animal and that chair, which has been in production since the 1950s, is a perfect match for Frykholm’s signature style.
“I dont know where I get my inspiration from” Frykholm offers quickly, unprompted, as though asked this question often. Clearly, however, he has already been inspired by China.
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Practical, stylish, and transitioning easily between spaces, Australian furniture design is imbued with healthy doses of all the things that make our nation distinct: playfulness, a hardworking attitude, a diverse range of international influences, and a comfortable humility.