Irving Harper: “Paper is a versatile medium” by Herman Miller

Wow, I came across this amazing video earlier today and I’ve been been itching to write a piece on it. Interestingly the subject is designer Irving Harper who’s someone that I was searching up about a few months back, specifically looking for imagery of his paper sculptures (what a coincidence). Herman Miller must have been on the same trail as me since they’ve produced this fantastic filmed interview and coinciding imagery all professionally taken at his house in Rye, a comfortable suburb just north of New York city.

Irving is quite the dark horse, he worked as design director at the Nelson Office where he was responsible for some of the most compelling and iconic designs of the twentieth century. Most notably the Herman Miller logo, the Marshmallow sofa, and the Ball clock, one that many people think was designed by George Nelson, but was in fact designed by a variety of famous individuals at a dinner party. A funny story really and is one I’ve read about before, Irving Haper, Isamu Noguchi, Bucky Fuller, and George himself had a bit too much to drink at a dinner party and they started sketching ideas, in the morning they all woke up but no one could remember who had drawn the clock. In the end they all guessed it was probably Isamu since he was a genius for doing stupid things and making something extraordinary out of a combination of wacky ideas. It’s great to picture the situation these guys must of been in at the time, leading a revolution of modernist design.

Hopefully you’ll pick up some new inspiration through this video below, the imagery also helps as well and gives you some close-up shots of the artwork. These sculptures in particular are what drew my eye, I know Mr Harper is a famous designer and he’s held in high regard but I think this just shows his true talent and his love for his work. By the looks of it he’s made so many of these that he has had to stop otherwise he would have nowhere to put them, he has over 500 pieces now in his collection! Also, if you’ve got some spare time, I’d recommend you check out this new video series by Herman Miller that they’re running called ‘Why Design’ where they explore the world through the eye of their designers, and share their point of view. It’s already heating up with the likes Yves Béhar and Ayse Birsel. I hope you enjoy.