When 28-year-old Steve Frykholm was offered the first graphic designer position at Herman Miller Furniture, he decided to “give it a whack”. Who could turn down an offer from a company noted for innovation, quality, and timeless design?
It was 1970, long before computers were used in design, and Frykholm was tasked with creating a poster to promote the annual company picnic. Using three colors, he paired great design with the art of screen printing, simplified forms, and hand cut stencils, and created the first in a series of picnic posters now considered to be design classics and an important piece of American Graphic Design.
Although recognized as an annual report legend by Graphis, Frykholm says he’s most proud of the Picnic Posters and notes “they all look good together on a wall!” The surface of each iconic poster created from 1970-89 is coated with a glossy varnish which adds a pop to the vibrant colors and dynamic composition that makes them widely popular and has earned them a permanent spot at MoMA, the Library of Congress and as a part of countless museum collections.
Frykholm’s bold, pop art picnic posters “firmly landed him on the short list of Herman Miller’s illustrious design alumni” and mirror the company’s offerings by “retaining their relevance and their value, even years after their purchase”.
Steve Frykholm, now retired, was named an American design icon in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Communication Arts, received an AIGA Fellow in 2007, and the AIGA Medal in 2010, the highest recognition from AIGA, the professional association for design. According to AIGA, the medal is awarded to recognize exceptional achievements in the advancement of the field of design as a respected craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. Medals are awarded to individuals who have set standards of excellence over a lifetime of work or have made individual contributions to innovation within the practice of design.