The collection celebrates the design talent of yesterday and today, bringing together longtime Eames fans, Rolf and Mette Hay, and the designs that inspired them.
Zeeland, Mich: Herman Miller, in collaboration with Danish design brand HAY, today unveiled the Herman Miller x HAY Collection — a 21st-century reinterpretation of eight beloved Eames mid-century classics. Featuring new, inspired color palettes and updated materials, the collection is a powerful combination of original, timeless design with a contemporary point of view. It also serves as a full-circle moment for HAY founders Rolf and Mette Hay — lifelong admirers of modern design, Herman Miller, and the Eameses.
“Herman Miller is built on a legacy of risk taking and creative collaboration,” says Ben Watson, President, Herman Miller. “With this collection, HAY thoughtfully reimagines Eames classics in a forward-thinking, first-of-its-kind collaboration. A unique vision of color, the evolution of thoughtful materials, and a beautifully interconnected story of design partnership harnesses the enduring spirit of Herman Miller.”
In anticipation of HAY’s 20th anniversary in 2022, Herman Miller approached Rolf and Mette with a flexible provocation: What could the two design brands do together that they could not create alone? The answer: a fresh take on the original color palette and material ingenuity of the Eames furniture collection made by Herman Miller to deliver a group of pieces that are both obviously Eamesian — and uniquely HAY.
Driven by curiosity and play, Rolf and Mette’s philosophy, as well as their intimate design partnership, this new collection also aligns with their biggest influences, Charles and Ray Eames, whose unique synergy led to iconic status in modern design. Mette cites the Eameses’ playful, yet rigorous approach to design as the model for her and her husband Rolf’s own process. “They were very experimental in taking advantage of new technologies, “says Rolf Hay. “And they were having fun.” Like their predecessors, the Hays have always been motivated by the certainty that good design is for everyone — a founding principle behind HAY the brand.”
“Since the inception of HAY, our goal has been to provide our customers with access to works by the best designers in the world — designers who understand that if you want to create high-quality industrial design for the many, then you need to find smart ways of producing,” adds Rolf Hay. For that element, he points to Herman Miller’s track record of innovative manufacturing and precision engineering: “If you look at a product like the Aeron Chair, there’s only one company that could develop a chair with such complexity — and that’s Herman Miller. It takes a strong passion for design and a pioneering legacy in production.”
Credit: Alpha Smoot for Herman Miller.
HAY consulted the Herman Miller archives for references that could help modernize the company’s approach to color without recreating it directly. “Being very familiar with the existing color range, my intention was to focus on looking ahead, instead of looking too far back,” says Mette Hay. Her research was further informed by delving into Eames ephemera cataloged by MillerKnoll archivist Amy Auscherman; one-off furniture prototypes listed on auction sites and in museum catalogs; and out-of-production textiles by Alexander Girard, archived at textile brand Maharam’s New York studio.
The Eameses had worked closely with Alexander Girard, who was the founding director of the textiles division at Herman Miller and became their close personal friend and frequent collaborator. Girard’s innovation within the textile realm — in which he employed bold and unusual color combinations as well as subtle, understated, and textural palettes — offered the Eameses a wide array of options when considering how to further enhance their genre-defying mid-century furniture.
Rolf points to history’s many designers, “who are great in terms of giving form to industrial design, but are lacking in [development of] color and texture. That was not the case with Charles and Ray Eames — they had a fantastic sensibility, and working with Alexander Girard was inspiring for both of them, as working with his textiles has been for us.”
Mette’s vision of color in this collection pays homage to Ray Eames’s artistic eye and Girard’s world of boundary-pushing colors. The collection includes seven spirited colorways meant for endless interplay and combination, including colors like Toffee, Iron Red, and Powder Yellow. Complementing the main color palette is a special edition of the Eames Sofa Compact upholstered in a circa-1955 colorway of Girard’s Jacob’s Coat textile, which Maharam has faithfully reissued for the collaboration at Mette’s request.
Jake Stangel for Herman Miller, courtesy of the Eames Foundation
Rolf and Mette Hay in the living room of the home Charles and Ray Eames designed for themselves in 1949 in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The collection’s innovative material palette was expanded elsewhere in the collection, including with the Eames Hang-It-All, which sports cast-glass balls in place of the original painted wood, representing a new play on color, tactility, and utility. The Eames Wire Base Low Table and Universal Base Round Table, now with cast-glass tops, bring artistic craft and dimension to any space. As part of MillerKnoll’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact, the Molded Plastic Shell Chairs, both with and without arms, contain 100% post-industrial recycled plastic available in the HAY-designed six-color palette; and the Eames Wire Chairs are powder-coated for outdoor use with optional cushions upholstered in tone-on-tone outdoor fabric. Hay’s reimagining of the iconic Eames Molded Plywood Chair, now in an emerald green colorway ubiquitous to HAY’s additional best-selling collections, is a personal favorite product of Mette and Rolf’s; in fact, one of the original Eames prototypes currently resides in the Hays’ own living room in Denmark.
The collection is available in North America, South America, Asia, Australia, and Africa starting September 21, 2022. Exclusive Collection retail partners include MoMA Design Store in the U.S. and Inform Interiors in Canada starting September 21, 2022; the Collection will also be available via additional select retailers starting October 21, 2022.
For a full look at the collection, please visit our website.
About Herman Miller
Since 1905, Herman Miller has been guided by a commitment to problem-solving designs that inspire the best in people. Along the way, Herman Miller has forged critical relationships with the most visionary designers of the day, from mid-century greats like George Nelson, the Eames Office, and Isamu Noguchi, to research-oriented visionaries like Robert Propst and Bill Stumpf — and with today’s groundbreaking studios like Industrial Facility and Studio 7.5. From the birth of ergonomic furniture to manufacturing some of the twentieth century’s most iconic pieces, Herman Miller has spent the last century pioneering original, timeless design that makes an enduring impact, while building a lasting legacy of design, innovation and social good. Herman Miller is a part of MillerKnoll (NADSAQ:MLKN), a collective of dynamic brands that comes together to design the world we live in. For more information visit www.hermanmiller.com/about/our-story
Founded in Copenhagen in 2002 with the ambition of creating contemporary furniture for modern living, HAY’s continued vision is to create high-quality and well-designed products in collaboration with some of the world’s most talented, curious and courageous designers. Inspired by the principles of architecture and the dynamic nature of fashion, the HAY brand has found an enthusiastic international audience. Through our commitment to sophisticated industrial manufacturing processes, we strive to make good design accessible. For more information visit www.HAY.com