At the Herman Miller Design Yard in Holland, Michigan, windowed hallways stem off the main office (or Front Door, in Miller speak) and snake around green space, forming a formidable campus of corrugated steel and muted colors. Down one of those halls, through a light blue office and behind a wooden door that looks like it might lead to a middle school classroom, emerge the distinctive sounds of muffled bangs and bonks.
Pull open the door and you’ll hear the tonal buzz of dozens of machines and the methodical punching of the seats of Aeron chairs in what Herman Miller calls the Durability Lab. This is just one section of the sprawling test lab for Herman Miller’s furniture.
An office chair being tested in the lab.
Hardly anyone expects the amount of testing or the work that goes into testing furniture, says Larry Larder, manager of Test Services and Quality Systems at Herman Miller. Larder is a mechanical engineer who has been at Herman Miller for 17 years, and in the test lab for close to ten. “What we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to figure out, is how long a product is going to last under different testing conditions,” Larder says. Herman Miller has an admirable 12-year warranty, so the company works to ensure its products will last that long—at least.
Despite feeling tucked away behind other offices, the lab is a formidable space: It measures tens of thousands of square feet and is the height of an airplane hangar, with the capacity to run 1,890 different tests ranging from durability to staining.
Read more about it on Architectural Digest