Designers are often faced with two challenges—to create something that looks attractive and serves a purpose. To achieve these ends, designers often rely on research. This includes information about consumers, competition and the environment impacted by a design. Chris Hoyt works as a communications specialist for the research group at Herman Miller, a company that prides itself on “designing furnishings and related services that improve the human experience wherever people work, heal, learn and live.”
“Part of my time is spent working on health care research,” said Hoyt. “When I first came on in 2006, I helped conduct research as we were developing a patient chair called Nala. I, and one other person, took several prototypes of chairs all over the country gathering feedback from caregivers, interior designers and architects. We wanted to make sure all the features and functions were appropriate for the health care environment. That project was a lot of fun because I got to see and assist in the entire design and research process—from the first prototype all the way through to the first production model.
“The Patient Experience is another of my favorite projects. This was an exploratory project to help us understand what happens when a patient comes into the hospital with a heart attack or hip/knee replacement. To gather information, we interviewed nurses and observed a typical patient’s stay.
“It was my job to take that information and create a visual time line that could be quickly viewed and understood. In the past, it would have been a more basic Word document, but with the skills I learned at CCS, I was able to visualize that time line and create a compelling report. We knew it served its purpose when we took it to the hospital and showed it to the nurses. They started arguing with each other about how they conducted care. When they got the chance to step back and hear about care administered during a patient’s three-day stay, they realized that they each did things a little differently.”
Another aspect of Hoyt’s role on the research team is creating awareness about their work by managing the knowledge node in the Design Yard building, which is often toured by customers. This display consists of large, rotating posters that showcase the team’s most recent research as well as six monitors that highlight current trends in demographics, the environment, international, technology and work.
“One monitor displays the introduction while the other five display several facts and questions for each specific category,” explained Hoyt. “It is all done in Flash.”
Creating reports and presentations within the research group are also Hoyt’s responsibilities.
“One of the main reasons I got hired after my fellowship was my ability to take a research report and turn it into a visually appealing report,” Hoyt said. “In the past, after the research was completed, it was turned into a Word document. When I came on board with my ability to visualize information, I was able to make our reports stand out which helped them gain more footing in the organization. Learning how to visualize information and present it cleanly and efficiently at CCS has really helped me in my role at Herman Miller.”
- Product Design
- Herman Miller (Holland, MI)
- Communications specialist