The iconic symbol for the famous furniture brand was designed in 1946 by Irving Harper, a designer in George Nelson’s office. The story, as told by Metropolis magazine in 2001:
Never trained as a graphic artist, Harper based the logo around a large letter ‘M’, for Miller. At first the logo was in wood-grain, since wood figured prominently in Herman Miller furniture. Harper states, “I continued to use the M and refined it as the ads went on. The Herman Miller logo was something they got for free, and they loved it.” He chuckles. “There was no project to do a logo. It was probably the cheapest logo campaign in advertising history.”
In 1960, fitting with the times, John Massey created new, all-lowercase lettering for the logo based on Helvetica.
That logo lasted 40 years until a comprehensive rebranding incorporated FF Meta. The updated logotype read as one word. I’m not sure who was responsible for this identity. Perhaps Herman Miller’s Creative Director Steve Frykholm?
In 2011, the company dropped the name from its logo but FF Meta remains the corporate typeface.