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The Herman Miller Locale Seems Like a Good IDEA

This summer, the Industrial Designers Society of America announced that the Herman Miller Locale concept won the International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) in the Office & Productivity category. While more than two dozen awards were handed out, this one has high relevance for businesses that are interested in improving the bottom line.

How Locale Came to Be

The Locale concept (from Sam Hecht and Kim Colin) is based on the idea that open-plan environments are something like neighborhoods. With Herman Miller’s thoughtful and strategic approach, this workforce planning system may help create a friendly Mr. Rogers Neighborhood rather than a conflict-ridden cityscape or an aloof suburban environment. According to Herman Miller’s product information, the design was inspired by Hecht and Colin’s own offices as well as “the idea of a thriving English high street, which serves the community and the broader city by simply arranging a variety of local activities and services in close proximity.”

What Makes the Locale Special?

The topography of Locale is inviting and varied, with curving lines that facilitate movement throughout the space. Users are given the freedom and flexibility to transition between focused work, team efforts, and social activities at will. The designers hope that the fluid landscape will also increase the frequency of those “chance encounters” that are legendary for sparking brilliant notions and synergistic collaboration.

The neighborhood is not just a fixed structure that allows employees to move freely. The various components in Locale are also mobile and adjustable. Worksurfaces can move up and down, while tables, screens, and easels can be rolled in and out of various configurations as needed.

Creating the Right Locale

The horizontal Workbase is the core and foundation of the neighborhood and houses data and power for the workspace. Like the Steelcase Quiet Spaces, specification starts with identifying what style of unit you want to build rather than just counting the number of workstations needed. Here are just a few ideas for Locale spaces:

  • The Hive setting has multiple sitting and standing height desks for a work cluster. Sound-absorbing panels are included for visual and acoustic privacy.
  • The Cove is a collaborative space featuring whiteboards and multi-media displays along with tables and other shared worksurfaces for teaming.
  • The Jump Space is a dedicated workspace that would be ideal for individual users or a touchdown point in a shared, open environment.

See more Locale options at Herman Miller’s website.

What do you think? Is this an award winning idea that could promote greater productivity in your office? Share your opinions in the comments.


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