Cranbrook Academy of Art wins 2012 ICFF editors award for Best Design School

Over the weekend of May 19-20, a group of top editors from distinguished global design magazines voted for their favorite exhibitors and products at this year’s annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York. They put their seal of approval on Cranbrook Academy of Art at the ICFF Exhibitors Reception last night, which was named as Best Design School.

This is the fourth year that the Academy’s 3D Design Department has been invited by the organizers of ICFF to participate in an exhibition featuring the world’s leading design schools. The Cranbrook entry — “Rest and Concentration in the Workplace”* — evolved out of a sponsored-student project created by Herman Miller to nurture a new generation of design talent through the exploration of emerging challenges in the workplace. 
“Rest and Concentration” addresses challenges in the modern office where space is required for teamwork as well as rest, concentration and sometimes, ‘personal escape.’ The project brief from Herman Miller asked Cranbrook’s students to confront several questions, such as: When individual workers need a moment away from the group, what type of furniture would be best to support their rest and concentration?; If the new work culture requires an integration of living and working, then what is the new vision of physical rest in a professional setting?  Students researched these questions by interviewing office workers and visiting office environments, including Herman Miller’s ‘Design Yard,’ to better understand the dynamics at play in the contemporary workplace.

After an initial presentation of concepts and rough-scale models, six proposals were selected by members of Herman Miller’s product development leadership to be produced into full-scale prototypes. With the support of the company’s engineering team and local upholstery and fabrication vendors, the students were able to realize their concepts at a high level of detail and finish. The final six prototypes, now on view at the Javits center, are: Private Rocker, Stump Ottoman, Alcove Chair, Tri-fold Bench, Office Lounge, and Integrated Workstation.*
“This project pushed our students to develop a strong point-of-view and to deliver that message with specific form,” said Scott Klinker, Head of the 3D Design Department and Designer-in-Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art. “The final prototypes have a youthful ‘business casual’ character and present a strong vision for the future office.”
“Rest and Concentration,” also served the important function of connecting the internationally renowned Holland, Michigan-based Herman Miller with a new generation of Cranbrook designers. In total, sixteen graduate students in the 3D Design Department participated in the 2-semester collaboration, which involved extensive reviews of work by the company’s product development teams at their corporate headquarters.
“The process helped the students understand the complex set of voices beyond the designer’s own which are necessary to achieve commercial success,” said Gary Smith, Director of Design Facilitation & Exploration at Herman Miller. “It was also a great opportunity to encourage new Cranbrook talent, to provide perspective gleaned from an 80-year unbroken history of design collaboration, and to share with another generation the meaningfulness of human-centered problem solving.”
ICFF Editors Awards Committee included: Arlene Hirst; Elizabeth Pagliacolo, Azure; Amanda Dameron, Dwell; Cristina Bonini, Interni; Chantal Hamaide, Intramuros; Paul Makovsky,Metropolis; Pei-Ru Keh, Wallpaper.
*Hi-Res images of the work presented at ICFF and information on the Herman Miller sponsored project at Cranbrook Academy of Art can also be found at:
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Cranbrook Academy of Art is the country’s top ranked, graduate-only program in architecture, design and fine art. Each year, just 75 students are invited to study and live on our landmark Saarinen-designed campus, which features private studios, state-of-the art workshops, a renowned Art Museum, and 300 acres of forests, lakes, and streams, all a short drive from the red-hot art, design, and music scene of Detroit. The focus at Cranbrook is on studio practice in one of ten disciplines: Architecture, 2D and 3D Design, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Print Media, and Sculpture. The program is anchored by celebrated Artists- and Designers-in-Residence, one for each discipline, all of whom live and practice on campus alongside our students. For more information, visit us at