A few weeks ago, I wrote a brief post about ITOKI Design. The new arm of Japanese manufacturer ITOKI is directed by Jeff Miller. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied Industrial Design and left with University and Department Honors in 1990, Miller began his professional career working with ECCO. While there, he developed product for a near who’s who of global brands, including Apple, Gillette, and Timex.
In 2002, Miller established his own practice and began dabbling more formally in furniture design. This shift in focus has yielded fantastic result and his eye for form lends itself beautifully for pieces produced by Herman Miller and Baleri Italia. As director of IOKI Design, Miller’s furniture plays a central role. He crafts functional looks that blend office utility with at home potential. This duality of purpose shows clearly in forms that exhibit sensuous soft curves and play with negative spaces.
A recently met with Miller on a trip to New York, and was particularly taken with his discussion of manufacture. We talked about Grand Rapids, Michigan, which as a hub of production provides the bent wood for ITOKI chairs. Jeff mentioned the difficulty of making everything in America, and while the desire is there in ITOKI, the battle for quality and all the correct materials still presents problems. Metal frames, for example, are still produced in Japan.
Under Miller’s creative direction, ITOKI Design introduces the ITOKI brand to the American market. As previewed, the initial offerings have clean and simple lines, following Miller’s hallmark. Among the pieces in the first line the DP Chair is a glorious achievement. Smooth curves of bent wood atop a supremely simple steel frame. The spaces is indicative of Miller’s creative output. The chair is a great example of the subtlety of Miller’s furniture, simple enough to allow to seep into a space but with a quality that also prompts investigation. In even the most basic form, his work is enough to captivate the furniture historian in me.
And, for that, the future of ITOKI Design (and Miller himself) seems very bright.
Some of my favorite examples of Miller’s furniture design, through his career, after the jump.