A Life Lived with Herman Miller

The Collection of Betty Gorecki

Betty Gorecki's husband Richard worked for Herman Miller from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s—a defining era in the company's history, when the designs of Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Alexander Girard changed the look of modern American design. 

Richard Gorecki was a traveling salesman that worked for the interiors department, consulting offices on furnishing their spaces with the adaptable and optimistic furniture and textiles that would become iconic of the era. Betty, a hairstylist who owned a salon, fell in love with the modern designs of Herman Miller and outfitted their home with the colorful and inviting aesthetic (even making custom curtains and pillows out of Girard fabrics). 

Art is only art if it is synonymous with living.

Alexander Girard

Along with classic Herman Miller designs, Betty also decorated her home with items purchased from Girard's Textile & Objects shop, including the delightful handmade dolls of Marilyn Neuhart and folk art from South America. This collection also features Herman Miller Summer Picnic posters by Stephen Frykholm, timeless Nelson and Eames furniture, and Girard works ranging from an important collection of over six hundred fabric samples to his good-humored Environmental Enrichment panels.

Though Betty and Richard divorced in the early 1970s, Betty continued to live with these designs, seamlessly integrating their ease, optimism and resilience into her home and life for over forty years—just as Eames, Nelson and Girard had hoped they would be.

What makes a design unique, original, inventive, imaginative, and compelling? What are those attributes that really make your design really stand out amongst the crowd? I think the dimensionality comes from the person designing it, if that makes any sense. The design has to have presence.

Stephen Frykholm

George Nelson & Associates

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1908, George Nelson studied architecture at Yale University, teaching for a short time before the Great Depression. In 1932, he won the Rome Prize and spent the next two years studying design in Italy. Returning to the states, Nelson sold his essays to Pencil Points and became an associate editor at Architecture Forum and Fortune magazine. After reading Nelson’s innovative book Tomorrow's House, then president of Herman Miller furniture company D.J. De Pree hired Nelson as design director. Nelson launched his first collection in 1947 and transformed the struggling company into a groundbreaking leader in the field. Nelson remained at Herman Miller until the mid-1960s, and was responsible for bringing Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard and Isamu Noguchi on board.

In 1947, Nelson opened his own design studio, George Nelson Associates, Inc. which at one time employed over seventy people. The company’s work within corporate settings revolutionized the concept of branding and elevated industrial design to new heights. Throughout his career, Nelson continued to write critically about design across multiple planes, teaching and consulting until his death in 1986.