Recognized for its commitment to making high-quality modern
furnishings accessible and advancing the design conversation to new
Few contemporary furnishings are as iconic as the Aeron Chair,
which first came to popularity in the dotcom era. But while many
can identify it, how many also know that it was designed by Don
Chadwick and Bill Stumpf for Herman Miller in 1994? Anyone who
shops at Design Within Reach—through the San Francisco-based
retailer's information-rich catalogs or website, or in one of its
69 Studios (as its showrooms are called) in the United States and
Canada—might be the wiser, since authorship is one of the company's
core values. As a result, every bed, table, cabinet, sofa and
lighting fixture comes with a story—a fascinating one that not only
describes the key functional elements of that product but the
inspiration for how it came to be. With an unparalleled commitment
to design education across all channels, Design Within Reach has
not only served a niche in the marketplace but advanced the
conversation about design to new audiences.
Design Within Reach was founded in 1998 by Rob Forbes, a ceramic
designer with an MBA from Stanford, who had struggled to acquire
the clean, modern designs of Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray
Eames for his home. The company, which went public in 2004 and is
now run by CEO Ray Brunner, arose from that quest and specializes
in making fully licensed classics easy to own.
The idea that everyone should have access to quality is part of
a philosophy in which design does not belong on a pedestal; each of
these beautiful pieces of furniture is a functional product created
as a solution to an everyday problem, solved by an ordinary, though
very talented, person. As the company states: “Authenticity is
something we're proud to offer; elitism, however, is not.”
Design Within Reach's own identity was designed by Kit Hinrichs,
of Pentagram San Francisco, who was instrumental in defining the
early business. Jennifer Morla, San Francisco designer and
principal of Morla Design, subsequently collaborated with Forbes on
the original website, the visual vocabulary of the brand and its
applications, as well as the design and execution of DWR
Profile, a magazine for the architectural design community.
Today, as the company's chief creative officer, Morla directs an
in-house team, overseeing the visual language of Design Within
Reach's retail and online environments and continually elevating
its print catalogues into something intellectually and visually
appealing—the opposite of junk mail.
As the company embarks on its next retail venture—two Tools for
Living stores, which feature ready-to-take-home items for everyday
use, in New York and Los Angeles—Design Within Reach builds on its
founding concept and remains true to its name.
The AIGA Corporate Leadership Award was established to recognize the role of perceptive and forward-thinking organizations.
Section: Inspiration -
awards, design educators, students
Jennifer Morla was awarded the AIGA Medal in April 2011 at “Bright Lights: The AIGA Awards” in New York City.
Section: Inspiration -
AIGA Medal, interview, awards
A brand should have a sense of purpose, and is not just your logo, your letterhead, or your web site: it is every piece of communication that is created to explain who you are.
Section: Why Design
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