In the 1948 Herman Miller sales catalog, George Nelson laid out his view of the company’s design philosophy. These five simple statements echoed the education that Gilbert Rohde had provided for the company in the preceding decades.

  1. What you make is important.
  2. Design is an integral part of the business.
  3. The product must be honest.
  4. You decide what you will make.
  5. There is a market for good design.

This simple set of statements has defined a company’s product philosophy for many, many years. It’s no coincidence that Herman Miller has remained a contemporary, sustainable, design-driven business.

The product must be honest.

I truly believe this is when your best work is being made. When you’ve put your heart into it and you absolutely feel like you did. When you’re physically fatigued from stressing over design details. When 3200% zoom still isn’t big enough. When you deploy a commit specifically to add 1px of padding to an element. That’s when a good designer becomes great designer.

You decide what you will make.

This is my favorite part of my job. Having the liberties to experiment creatively and relatively free of repercussion. I don’t let marketplace expectations dictate what features my next WordPress theme will have. Although, I’d be a much wealthier man if I did. But that’s not what I want with my work or my life. This reminds me of a Saul Bass quote that I come across often.

I want everything we do to be beautiful. …It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares. (video)

BONUS VIDEO! 108 Years of Herman Miller in 108 Seconds: