June 13, 2016
Exclave from Herman Miller Moves Ideas Forward
New product suite empowers collaboration and stimulates innovation


  • Exclave forms a collaborative ecosystem to empower high-performance teams
  • Based on recent research, Exclave is designed to support distributed cognition
  • New suite of products enhances communication, movement, and tangible interaction in offices

In today’s competitive business environment, innovation drives success. And organizations increasingly rely on the collaborative work of high-performing teams to drive innovation. While Herman Miller provides many product solutions that support collaborative work, Exclave is the first suite of products to comprehensively address collaboration in today’s workplace. Exclave equips space to help people and teams develop and share ideas more fluidly and spontaneously, throughout the day and across the office landscape.

Through ongoing research into how place affects people, Herman Miller has found new insights from cognitive psychology regarding the physical environment. Recent studies consider the effects of the physical environment on the ways groups of people interact—both with information and each other—to solve complex problems and generate new ideas. The concept of “distributed cognition” suggests that thinking happens not only in individual minds, but is a process that is “distributed” among groups of minds as well as the places where they come together and the tools they use. Based on an understanding of the ways collaborative thought is distributed among groups, Exclave helps people participate more fully in the process of solving problems and generating ideas.

The stakes for solving the complex equation of collaboration are high, yet most areas of a typical workplace don’t foster collaboration. If they do, they don’t allow a smooth flow of ideas across the office landscape. The Exclave design brief was simple: enhance collaboration in groups, for both local and remote participants. Herman Miller identified a partner ideally suited for this task when choosing to work with Gianfranco Zaccai and Continuum on the design of Exclave. With a roster of global clients in a number of industries, the team at Continuum works daily with the challenge of enabling collaboration that generates ideas and solves problems to drive organizational success. In tackling the design for Exclave, they began by creating a project space where they could place, move, and replace all components as needed. They quickly recognized that this flexible approach was the greatest asset to people working together to solve problems and generate ideas. The result is a cohesive suite of products that create a collaborative ecosystem to empower high-performing teams.

Research has shown that high-performing teams communicate in distinctive ways; that movement plays an important role in creative output; and that tangible interaction with physical objects—analog tools like whiteboards, sketch pads, or sticky notes—enhances shared understanding of new ideas. Throughout a Living Office landscape, Exclave supports the cocreation of new ideas and content among team members with products that work together to optimize communication, stimulate energizing movement, and promote the collaborative use of digital and analog tools.

In contrast to the rectangular tables that typically furnish conference rooms, the guitar pick and tear drop shapes of Exclave tables maximize face-to-face communication among all participants. Team members can assemble around an Exclave table without blocking anyone’s view of anyone else, encouraging equal participation in discussions and direct connections between individual team members. To give remote participants a “seat at the table,” Exclave positions videoconferencing equipment at eye level. With dual electronic displays stacked vertically on the media tile, onsite participants can view both without turning away from the camera—a movement that can be disruptive to remote participants’ experience of social connection. Mobile carts and lightweight boards can be quickly positioned within camera range so that remote team members can also view analog tools as they are used and discussed.

A collaborative standing-height version of the Exclave table sets the scene for dynamic interaction. In addition to supporting stand-up meetings that improve team energy and engagement, standing-height tables paired with stools keep all participants—sitting or standing, remote or onsite—at eye level. And perched or standing team members are free to interact more spontaneously with surrounding tools like whiteboards, without requiring the abrupt posture change that can inhibit participation or disrupt the flow of conversation.

Exclave’s rail and board system uniquely supports the use of hands-on, tangible tools that augment collective ideation. Lightweight, interchangeable whiteboards, tackboards, and eco boards are easily integrated into both open office and enclosed room environments. Rails support quick and easy repositioning of boards to allow teams to develop, express, and modify ideas in a familiar, fluid, and extemporaneous fashion. Because the boards may be stacked up to four deep on the wall, different teams can share the same rail-equipped space without disturbing each other’s work.

To keep people and ideas moving around the workplace, Exclave carts transport boards from group work sessions in formal project or meeting rooms to rails installed on walls in open and informal gathering spots—compact spaces nearby that enable people to assemble and engage with each other for a short period of time. Where rails aren’t available, the carts themselves serve as freestanding support for boards to share ideas and information in the moment. When members go “exploring” beyond the team, portable Exclave boards can go with them, to share ideas for tweaking or problems for troubleshooting.

Exclave from Herman Miller is a suite of products that aligns surroundings, furnishings, and tools in a collaborative ecosystem that spans the office landscape, empowering high-performing teams to drive ideas and innovation forward.

Presented in multiple settings within the Herman Miller showroom during NeoCon in Chicago, the full Exclave suite of products is now available to order from Herman Miller dealers.

About Herman Miller, Inc.
Herman Miller is a globally recognized provider of furnishings and related technologies and services. Headquartered in West Michigan, the global company has relied on innovative design for over 100 years to solve problems for people wherever they work, live, learn, and heal. Herman Miller’s designs are part of museum collections worldwide, and the company is a past recipient of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper Hewitt National Design Award. Known and respected for its leadership in corporate social responsibility, Herman Miller has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the past 12 years, and has earned the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s top rating in its Corporate Equality Index for the past eight years. In fiscal 2015, the company generated $2.14 billion in revenue and employed over 7,000 people worldwide. Herman Miller trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MLHR.