Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller
One of the great strengths the Muskegon Museum of Art team has brought to our community is its ongoing drive to bring new, ambitious exhibitions and projects to our West Michigan audiences. Continually pushing beyond what we’ve done before has often been daunting, but the rewards have been well worth the risks. This effort has been possible in no small part through a commitment to forming new partnerships and finding opportunities for collaboration. Each new endeavor has provided the lessons and experiences to launch the next bigger thing. The 2009 exhibition, Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller, represented a bold new direction for the MMA and encompassed numerous elements that would define the following years: collaboration with expert curators and scholars and institutional and business partners, great art, a focus on Michigan, and an ambitious travel schedule.
About the Exhibition
The Good Design exhibition explored the collaborative problem-solving design process employed at the world-renowned and West Michigan-based furniture company, Herman Miller, Inc. The show was designed in collaboration with The Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI and drew from their Herman Miller Design Collection—a comprehensive archive of the company’s innovative processes and products. We also worked closely with Herman Miller and their archives team. John Berry, design scholar and authority on Herman Miller, served as guest curator, with exhibition consultant Timothy Chester coordinating the overall project with designers Judy Hillman and Barb Loveland of Hillman Associates. Exhibition fabrication, which included display materials and crating, was overseen by Vincent Faust of Kalamazoo. MMA staff provided the expertise, creativity, and troubleshooting skills needed to bring such an ambitious show into smaller venues and then coordinated the travel of the show to other institutions around the U.S.
Good Design premiered at the MMA in the fall of 2009. It subsequently crisscrossed the U.S. appearing at the Goldstein Museum of Design, St. Paul, MN; Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI; Austin Museum of Art, Austin, TX; Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, MI; Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN; Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Kalamazoo, MI; and the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco, CA.
The experience of Good Design was the direct inspiration that led to the national travel of several MMA organized shows, including Innovators and Legends: Generations in Textiles and Fibers (2012), Remember and Rebuild: September 11 Memorial and Museum Photographs (2014 – MMA produced materials were acquired by the 9/11 Memorial Museum to create a traveling show), Extreme Fiber: Textile Icons and the New Edge (2015), Circular Abstractions: Bull’s Eye Quilts (2016), Southern Roots: The Paintings of Winfred Rembert (2017), and Rising Voices: The Bennett Prize for Women Figurative Realist Painters (2019).