Naming and A Bridge

This adventure began more than a decade ago, but continues to play itself out at random moments.

We were picked to receive some visitors from Michigan known for their furniture design: Herman Miller. If you’re not in design this name may be unfamiliar, but perhaps the best selling office chair in the history of humankind will help - the Aeron was brought to market by this company.

Herman Miller is also known for many other iconic designs and designers who have worked in collaboration with this team. When the Herman Miller name is mentioned in design circles, ears turn and attention gets focused. So when the big day arrived and a crew of four arrived at Capsule HQ, the energy meter in the office was reading at high levels.

We got down to business and within five minutes our potential client was delivering this snarky message, “when we visit design firms, they often get twitchy and start buying our product for their office, so, [pointing to the Nelson bench by Herman Miller] did you buy that for us?” Our immediate response, “nope, that’s what we affectionately call the griddle, if you show up late to the meeting, you sit there and squirm.” They laughed and replied, “yeah, we have cushions on the ones in our office, which we don’t think was George Nelson’s intention.”

Only in Minnesota can we authentically say, the ice is broken.

From this meeting forward we worked on a large variety of projects for the Herman Miller team and one of the most iconic was the Setu chair. Our naming process has always been robust, but this was a test of international scale. Our final list of five had to pass the trademark offices in China and also had to work their way through a European system with its own challenges. The result met everyone’s criteria and, more important, attached a memorable name to what was to become a great chair.

Setu is Hindi for bridge. The chair was described as a design for the spaces in between work and home, meant to be a bridge in our lives.

Now, move forward to a few weeks ago as, yet again, we walk into a room where the Herman Miller business development team has already been. The Setu chair is comfortably embracing the asterisks of our potential client and ourselves. We talk through the work we’ve done, how we achieve such results and what it feels like to work with Capsule. Then, we make everyone aware of their seating apparatus.

How elegant is it when we are able to make our clients proud by doing great work and they are able to make us proud by continuing to place their chairs in the rooms where we meet. Symbiotic is the word that comes to mind.

We’d like to thank Herman Miller for being such a great client and more importantly, for delivering such an amazing design to humanity.

About The Author

Aaron Keller

I am an author, strategist, researcher, cyclist, reader and consummate entrepreneur. When an interesting idea crosses my path, I find any way we can bring it to life. Earning an MBA from the Carlson School and numerous valuable credits at the school of hard knocks, I’ll sit at a boardroom conversation with anyone. Want to talk business strategy, consumer behavior and design? Oh, it’s on.


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