Ep. 121 – Herman Miller’s Melissa Steach on Design Innovation

Ep. 121 – Herman Miller’s Melissa Steach on Design Innovation

Human-Centered Research Design Innovation

Melissa Steach is an ergonomic specialist with Herman Miller. She works to educate various communities about ergonomics in the workplace while valuing and focusing on the importance of the human for design innovation. Brian Ardinger and Melissa take a look at innovation from a design perspective and how that can impact the workplace and home environments.

Melissa Steach, Ergonomic Specialist with Herman MillerThe built environment helps human growth, relationships and caring for the health of people. New healthcare research is reflecting this idea. Trends we are seeing include multiple generations living together and people placing more emphasis on health.

What Do People Want?

Companies can create innovative environments by asking people what they want. Don’t invest in a pingpong table or junk food if no one is interested. Today, companies need to take a hard look at their space to attract talent, because one-third of a company’s costs go towards real estate and a similar amount goes towards human costs. Look at “who” your company is and understand and develop a built environment that reflects that.

A person and organization must find fit. If not aligned, they will self-select. The more cohesive your organization is, and mission/purpose is visible, people will know if they are a good fit. Take care of people when they are there. If they don’t feel well, they don’t perform well. Ergonomics plays a role in a company’s bottom line.


Herman Miller values a strategy called placemaking. It’s a personality chart for your organization. Start by examining the big three: conference room, work desk, and private offices. Need to optimize those spaces for need or make them fun.

Human-centered research design

To stay relevant, Herman Miller focuses on being a human-centered research design company. Years ago they made the first splint with curved wood, similar to the design of their Eames chair. It has stood the test of time. They also don’t lose sight of how important the person is to everything they do. However, their drivers, motives, and needs must keep evolving.

For More Information

For more information, contact Melisa Steach on LinkedIn or at Melissa_steach@hermanmiller.com

If you liked this podcast, you might also enjoy Ep. 70 – Jyoti Shukla with Nordstrom


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Episode 121

Ep. 121 – Herman Miller&...