Co.Design

Five Architects Define The Meaning Of California Cool

House porn meets furniture porn, in a new video series by Herman Miller. Oh, baby!

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Herman Miller, the Zeeland, Michigan, furniture giant, is brilliant at promoting itself. The company's latest campaign, POV, is proof positive. It's a microsite that uses hip California architects -- and the hip California houses they designed -- to flog sofas and armchairs. In short, it manages to wrap mundane objects in the seductive packaging of California cool.

The site, by Culver City, Calif.-based Hello Design, is a beaut. It has brief video interviews featuring the design perspectives of five contemporary architects, all regionally noted but not world famous, including Marmol Radziner, Cigolle X Coleman, Jennings Architecture, LeanArch, and JFAK Architects. It's also got huge glamour shots of their work, quintessentially Californian houses with loads of sunlight and big desert backdrops and blurry divides between the indoors and the outdoors.

[Kim Coleman, partner at Cigolle x Coleman, talks about the importance of durable materials, like metal, glass, and concrete, in offsetting the harsh Southern California sun.]

Then (and here's where Herman Miller comes into play), the furniture company dotted the indoors with famous pieces from its catalog. They threw up Eames lounge chairs, Noguchi tables, Nelson sofas -- the works -- to show that modish California architecture and classic Herman Miller furniture go together like palm trees and sunshine. In a masterstroke, Hello Design tapped Juergen Nogai to shoot the interior spaces. Nogai is the former business partner of Julius Shulman, whose photographs of mid-century architecture practically defined California cool.

[Jim Jennings of Jennings Architecture in San Francisco discusses his stunning minimalist retreat in the desert, top image, and how "creating an environment that is self-contained" is key to designing the ultimate vacation home.]

As Hello Design tells it, the site is "meant to be a source of inspiration and a celebration of great design." It's also, of course, meant to get people to buy stuff. Mouse over Nogai's pictures, then click, and you're transported to Herman Miller's online store, the afterimage of an impeccable, Pacific retreat still fresh in your mind. Clever sales tactic, for sure. But maybe the furniture should come with an asterisk: California dream not included.

[Images courtesy of Hello Design]

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