Herman Miller History

Herman Miller History

From the birth of “modern” furniture through eras of change in the ways people work, Herman Miller has been a global leader in design, ergonomics, sustainability, and human performance.

Herman Miller was founded in 1905 as Star Furniture Company, a manufacturer of high-quality, traditionally styled bedroom suites. It became known as the Herman Miller Furniture Company in 1920 when the company president, D.J. De Pree, convinced his father-in-law, Herman Miller, to purchase the majority of shares. D.J. De Pree would stay on as president until 1962—two years after the company incorporated as Herman Miller, Inc.

One reason the company has survived so long is because of its ability to respond actively and positively to changes in the world around us. The ability to recognize change, adapt to it, and thrive because of it saw Herman Miller through several major transformations.

The first such transformation came in 1930, when De Pree hired Gilbert Rhode as the company’s first design director. Rhode convinced De Pree to move away from traditional furniture and to focus on "modern" design as a way to better meet the changing needs and life styles of a population that was shifting from rural to urban. This human-centered approach to the design of our products remains integral to Herman Miller today.

The second transformation came in 1968, at the height of growth in white-collar workers in the U.S. and Europe. In the face of this monumental change, Herman Miller launched the Action Office system, revolutionizing the work environment for millions of people.

And today, we are facing another transformation as our world is becoming more and more interconnected. Technology is changing the way work is accomplished every day, as workers become increasingly mobile and social. Changes like these lead Herman Miller to a new approach and a new set of solutions for people to comfortably integrate their work and their lives into one seamless and rewarding experience.