May 05, 2005 09:00 ET

Viaro Sponsors Harvard Seminar "Designing Learning Environments in the Digital Age"

Harvard Design School Venue for Key Issues Addressed by Panel of Experts in Research, Design and Architecture

BOSTON, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 5, 2005 -- Viaro(SM), a Herman Miller company, will sponsor a Harvard Design School Seminar titled: "Designing Learning Environments in the Digital Age." The seminar is led by Harvard Professor Spiro Pollalis as part of a unique forum in which design professionals and educational specialists share their pioneering research and projects related to the design of learning environments in the Digital Age. This event will demonstrate to an audience of peers and practitioners the ways in which current research and innovative practice can come together to influence the shape of future teaching and learning environments. The invitational seminar is scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, May 5, 2005 at the Harvard Design School (Gund Hall).

Remote viewing of the presentations will be available via the Internet at:

The seminar presentations will essentially focus on topics related to the design of learning environments in which integrated technology has become essential. Research studies currently taking place at the Harvard Design School in the field of educational design will be featured, as well as real world examples of innovative work from architects and industry leaders. Sessions will include a demonstration project which is an experimental classroom concept designed and developed as a collaborative project between Harvard Design School and Viaro. In the spirit of the digital age, some speakers will participate remotely via simulcast from Austria and California.

The seminar's presenters will include: Prof Spiro Pollalis, Prof Jeffrey Huang, Scott Pobiner, Hao-Hsiu Chiu and Kostas Terzidis of the Harvard Design School; Prof Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Prof Urs Hirschberg, Graz University of Technology; Sheila Kennedy, Kennedy & Violich Architecture; Jim Long, Herman Miller Inc.; Mark Meagher, IDCollaborative; Wolfgang Wagener, Cisco Systems Inc.; and Iain MacDonald, DEGW.

"We are pleased to sponsor this most important and informative event for Harvard Design School. It is in part a celebration of the past year's collaboration between Herman Miller with Harvard Design School and Professor Pollalis in the creation of an experimental classroom, which will continue to evolve and change. The collaboration has allowed us to explore together the possibilities of future worlds in learning. Viaro's unique, modular, ceiling-based infrastructure has enabled the classroom space to serve multiple purposes, providing high levels of flexibility and user control previously not possible," said Kevin Han, Viaro president.

The 850 square foot classroom has met a critical demand for individual teaching and learning styles, with multiple technology choices, moveable digital image display and analog pinup features, and rapid and frequent change. The space provides environmental control and more open and easy access to technologies that a broad spectrum of users demand and need to use. The lighting solution, a simple diffuser imbedded with LED color features -- designed by Sheila Kennedy for Viaro -- provides interest and relief from 'boring and harsh' standard lighting of typical classroom settings, adding a dimension of comfort and ease, was made possible on a low cost budget. In the short time it has been in use, a single semester so far, the space is becoming a catalyst for experimentation, innovation and greater creativity.

About Harvard Design School

The Harvard Design School is dedicated to the education and development of future leaders in the professions of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and urban planning. The School offers an array of masters and doctoral degrees, as well as Career Discovery and Executive Education programs. With an international faculty, the School provides a broad range of design philosophies and visions.

About Viaro

The Viaro infrastructure is changing the way in which designers, architects, builders, engineers and manufacturers converge to build flexible and scalable space. Viaro is catalyzing a new generation of radically flexible interior space design, by combining a new, open, modular building power infrastructure with space making elements, off the shelf luminaires and environmental controls. Viaro enables designers and builders to create total environments that are rapidly and inexpensively reconfigurable.

Sheila Kennedy is one of the three designers of the Viaro infrastructure: Bran Ferren and Danny Hillis from Applied Minds Inc., Sheila Kennedy from Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd (KVA). For additional information visit: and

In higher education environments, Viaro allows facilities management to more quickly reconfigure the space and prepare for special events, or regularly scheduled classes; with the touch of a button, regular users can save settings for their preferred lighting and equipment. Researchers can continuously experiment with new technologies and interfaces in the space, creating new synergies every day. Students can plan presentations more easily in advance and set them up quickly. Use of various combinations of more dynamic digital images and interactive smart technologies are allowing teachers and students to work in teams, even from different remote locations, in new and more effective ways. The Viaro infrastructure offers to higher education interiors a key element that was missing after the development of smart classrooms: by enabling environments to become learner-centric, and not technology-centric, it will contribute to allow each student to learn the way he or she learns best.

Viaro, a Herman Miller company, contributes to the evolution of interior space design by combining design expertise and technology to meet changing functional, cultural and economic demands. Founded in 2004, Viaro provides a community of designers, architects, builders, consultants and manufacturers with the ability to create a responsive infrastructure, allowing unprecedented insight and control over physical environments. The modular, mobile and programmable Viaro infrastructure provides a means for effectively adapting and changing building interiors as needs change over time. For additional information visit:

About Herman Miller

Herman Miller helps create great places to work by researching, designing, manufacturing, and distributing innovative interior furnishings that support companies, organizations, and individuals all over the world. The company's award-winning products, complemented by furniture-management and strategic consulting services, generated $1.34 billion in revenue during fiscal 2004. Herman Miller is widely recognized both for its innovative products and business practices. In fiscal 2004 Herman Miller was named recipient of the prestigious National Design Award for product design from the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and was again included in Business Ethics magazine's "100 Best Corporate Citizens." In the current year the company has been named to the Dow Jones Global Sustainability Index and was again cited by Fortune magazine as the "Most Admired" company in its industry in the annual survey of industry executives and analysts. The company trades on the NASDAQ stock market under the symbol MLHR. For additional information visit:

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