MillerKnoll, the collective of brands created by the merger of Herman Miller and Knoll in 2021, aims for a more equitable and sustainable design. In order to face long-term challenges, the brand set a series of goals to reach by 2030. First of all, reduce CO2 emissions from products and operations by 50% and source more efficient materials and stop using single-use plastics, one of the most used materials worldwide and a primary cause of serious terrestrial and marine environmental damages, while at the same time reducing waste of kind.
A concrete example of this commitment is the Aeron chair office, by Herman Miller one of the founder brands of MillerKnoll.
The Aeon chair was designed taking into considerations its environmental impact by designer Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick almost 30 years ago for Herman Miller and is still today a benchmark in the world of ergonomic seating. It’s one of the brand’s best sellers and was bestowed the Good Design Award (GDA) at the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, the FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association) Award, the IDSA Designs of the Decade award, and it's part of the permanent collection at the MoMA.
Herman Miller is one of the founding members of NextWave Plastics, a consortium that focuses on recovering and using material from the oceans. Plastic accumulated along the riverbanks is integrated into the manufacturing process, gradually reducing the volume of plastic waste in the oceans.
In terms of materials, the latest version of the Aeron is made of over 50% recycled materials, and it was designed to use ocean-bound plastic, in other words plastic that would have otherwise ended up in the oceans.
“It estimated that 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. It’s like dumping a truckload of plastic waste every minute,” stated Gabe Wing, Director of Sustainability at Herman Miller. “We joined NextWave to take an active role in the handling of the issue and we created a broad network of opportunities so that we can incorporate ocean-bound plastic in all our global operations. We are proud of the progress we made with our packaging and fabrics, and we would like to continue doing our part, like integrating plastic in our iconic Aeron chair, so that we can prevent it from reaching the oceans.”
Using this type of plastics in the production process of the chairs means contributing to eliminating 150 tons of plastic from the environment every year.
In this historical moment in which sustainability is an increasingly important asset, MillerKnoll decided to develop initiatives that contribute to lower the environmental impact and embark on a design journey that includes creative and concrete solutions. “The goal is to inspire other companies to follow a sustainable production path,” says the brand. “By working together, we are committed to creating a world in which future generations can prosper in harmony with the surrounding world. We want to be a beacon of innovation, showing that bringing exceptional design, functionality and environmental ethics together is possible.”