Design Knowledge Intermediary

Ethospace System, 1984
Herman Miller, USA

Bill Stumpf and Jack Kelley

Steel, %78 recyclable content

W 45.7 cm, H 76.2 cm, D 8.9 cm


In the late 1970s, technological kinds of change were first gearing up. Offices were being invaded by a demanding new tool: the computer.

Bill Stumpf and Jack Kelley researched office activities and processes and listened to what users said made a productive office environment. They concluded that the offices of the time weren't responding well to either people's needs or the changes affecting them. How could these rapidly changing environments be improved?

Stumpf's goal was to create a positive link between the user and his or her office. He focused on adding architectural interest through product scale, texture, ergonomic characteristics, color, and natural light. Kelley, who invented the first mouse pad, brought expertise in practical product applications. He stressed the need to address the increasing requirements for computers, telecommunication equipment, sophisticated power distribution, and cable management.

This collaborative effort resulted in the 1984 introduction of Ethospace, a new type of systems product. Its basic design was a system "wall" that surpassed industry product standards for both architectural form and practical function. Ethospace's first-of-a-kind frame-and-tile infrastructure adapted to the surrounding space and provided a flexible foundation for thoughtful change.

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