The Future of the Workplace

Interview with: Stacy Stewart, MEA Regional Director at MillerKnoll

Could you please provide an overview of MillerKnoll?

MillerKnoll is a collective of dynamic brands powering the world’s most renowned design brands, MillerKnoll includes Herman Miller and Knoll, plus Colebrook Bosson Saunders, Geiger, HAY, Maharam, Muuto and NaughtOne. Each brand offers a distinct perspective on design and a full portfolio of products to suit diverse needs.

 

Could you elaborate on how the company’s vision and sustainability goals aligns with consumer expectations in the Workplace?

The workspace sector has always been important to us in terms of meeting not only the organisations expectations, but the needs of employees too. Purpose-driven design remains central to our vision. We create environments that focus on positive human impact beyond just products. Our commitment to bettering lives through design is our cornerstone, and we strive to create spaces where people want to be.

Additionally, as MillerKnoll, we have set ambitious sustainability goals, including reducing our carbon footprint, sourcing better materials, and eliminating waste from our processes, such as single-use plastic packaging and landfill waste. This exemplifies our holistic view of design’s role in creating a greener future for people and our planet. In the workplace, this is especially relevant, as the wellbeing of employees is important to enhance productivity and fulfillment.

How important is it to MillerKnoll that the brands in the collective produce longevity products?

For us, it’s important that the brands prioritise sustainability and ethical practices to ensure the longevity in their products. A product that lasts longer significantly reduces landfill waste. For example, Herman Miller tests the durability and longevity of their products before adding them to their assortment. You’ll find bags dropped into the seat of a chair, casters spun for days on end, and machines that wouldn’t feel out of place in a repair shop, because we want them to stand the test of time. Many of our brands also offer industry leading warranty terms, for example, Herman Miller offers 12 years, as we recognise your need for products that can stand up to continuous use.

Can you provide an example of a brands’ approach to sourcing materials?

Knoll ensures responsible sourcing of materials, including marble from European quarries close to the manufacturing plants, which reduces transportation needs and ensures fair wages for producers. The iconic Saarinen Table which is manufactured in Graffignana, Italy, is sourced from quarries in Slovenia and Italy, exemplifying this approach.

Another example is HAY, a brand in the collective that focuses on developing long-lasting products that minimise environmental impact using sustainable materials such as recycled materials, FSC-certified wood, and water-based lacquer. Their growing collection of eco-certified products demonstrates the brand’s dedication to sustainability.

Also, The NaughtOne’s Ever Chair and Sofa Collection, use materials that are 100% recyclable, and after your use, whether that is 20, 40 or even 100 years – it can be broken down and recycled by hand with common tools. And you don’t need to worry about this part, the sofa can simply be returned to NaughtOne via the company’s take-back programme. NaughtOne will then handle the rest, making sure each of the sofa’s materials make it to the right place.

How does MillerKnoll balance aesthetic value and functionality in the Workplace?

The workplace can be incredibly diverse, but at its core, it is a relational, place-based activity that aims to meet people’s basic needs. A workspace, such as the entrance, sets the tone for employees and visitors. Additionally, the employee workstation can determine the level of productivity employees can achieve. It’s important to create areas that are spacious, bright, and ergonomic, where people feel productive. We design these spaces to communicate our commitment to providing an elevated experience for everyone who enters, both aesthetically and functionally.

What specific needs does MillerKnoll address within the workplace sector?

The workplace must be tailored to meet the requirements of its workforce. Employees appreciate the importance of wellbeing, social connections, and the ability to adjust to changing surroundings. To fully leverage these advantages for both employees and the organisation, the workplace should offer purpose-designed areas that cater to their specific needs. This includes spaces for collaboration, meetings, social interaction, mentorship, as well as quiet zones for focused work.

Stacy Stewart

MEA Regional Director at MillerKnoll