Join the global
design collective

Available in print
and online

SUBSCRIBE
Cubes Magazine
Cubes Magazine

Andrew Lock: Representing the Herman Miller Brand

Luo Jingmei finds out about the President of Herman Miller International’s passion for, and engagement within the company.

Herman Miller


BY Janice Seow

5 November, 2013


We first spoke with Andrew Lock in Cubes Indesign C64, in our coverage of the second Herman Miller REACH event held at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Known affectionately as Andy, Lock has spent the last 16 years in the American company. Here is a more intimate look into his personal journey within Herman Miller.

Herman MIller

Herman Miller’s REACH in Singapore

How did you end up joining Herman Miller in 1997?

I always say the real reason I joined Herman Miller was, I had walked into the factory in the UK [for the interview] and as I walked through the door, a lady called Joyce Bateman looked up from the reception desk [with] this huge smile over her face and said, ‘I bet you’re Andy Lock. Welcome.’ In the UK back in those days, if you walked into an office, people generally just ignored you.

Herman MIller

The new Mirra 2, presented at REACH Singapore recently

Were there other reasons?

I looked around the offices, and there was an office like I’d never seen before. I was used to stereotypical enclosed spaces where you had somebody who sat at the door and kept all your visitors away. Here was this wonderful, open environment with people engaging with one another, talking to one another, and immediately you could sense there was something quite different about the company. So I knew nothing about furniture, I didn’t know anything about the industry, but I knew I liked the company, I liked the people, I liked that it seemed open and welcoming. And I was right.

Herman MIller

The making of Mirra 2

Where did you go from there within the company?

I was led all the way around Europe for the business – meeting dealers, suppliers – so very quickly in the course of six months, I began to understand an industry that from the outside looks very simple, but is actually very, very complex. In those days, my job was in human resource. Then after about seven years, I agreed to go to the States for about a year and a half. This turned into 14 years. And then when I took this job of running the international side of the company, living in the States didn’t make sense because it was the one market I was not responsible for. I wanted to be back in one of my markets. I did actually try to persuade my wife to live in India, but she wanted to go back to London so I live there now but I travel all the time.

Herman MIller

Herman Miller – Nelson Coconut chair

So what did you learn about design by being in Herman Miller?

What Herman Miller has taught me is to pay attention to the details. If you get the details right, the overall end result will be so much better. So when I’m walking around I’m always looking at the details of particular products. If I’m in a hotel, I look at the details of how they construct an experience for the client.

Herman

Herman Miller Living Office

Do you translate Herman Miller’s philosophies to the way you are as a boss, as an employer?

Yeah. Whether doing design work in one of our R&D labs or producing a product in a factory, every single job has its purpose and every single person deserves respect for what they’re doing, and deserves our expectation that they’re performing at their highest level. People get a lot of freedom in Herman Miller to express themselves, to be individuals. We don’t mind a little eccentricity. I’m probably not stereotypical as a boss and that works for me very well.

Herman

Herman Miller Living Office

It must be quite challenging to be running the international markets because you’re dealing with India, with China, Australia…

I think that’s a privilege, not a challenge. I love it, I really do. There’s so much you can learn from being in different cultures and every one of them has something to teach you. India happens to be one of my favourite places. I love the energy, the vibrancy; we’ve got a hundred people in Bangalore. When I go there, I call it going to visit the kids. Their average age is 28. They work incredibly hard, they’re incredibly smart, and it’s just a shot of adrenalin being in their presence.

Herman

Herman Miller Office

What is your opinion about the role of design in the workplace in this day and age?

If I think back to work environments more than 30 years ago, they were never joyous. If you like, the office was just a place to churn out an outcome. I think nowadays, peoples’ expectations of their workspaces are so much higher. If they can’t feel that it’s enjoyable, most people will transfer their employment to another employer.

Herman

Herman Miller Office

And how does Herman Miller’s Living Office address these concerns?

At times, people in our industry have focused on the interest of business. Other times it has focused on the interest of the individual. What we’re trying to say with the Living Office is that we can focus on both these interests and lead both the company and the individuals within it to better results for both of them. We all get up every day and go and earn our living, but it has to be more than that. There has to be meaning and purpose to what we’re engaged in during the day because you only get one shot at life, and it has to be as productive as it possibly can be.

Herman MIller

Herman Miller Office

Herman Miller
hermanmiller.com


CUBES is on instagram

Follow @cubes_indesignlivesg

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: No posts found.

Make sure this account has posts available on instagram.com.

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers