Meet Steve Frykholm, the poster boy of graphic design

From designing posters for an annual picnic to hanging in the MoMAs permanent collection, this short documentary looks at the notable career of Steve Frykholm.

Herman Miller: The Picnic Posters of Steve Frykholm is produced by Dress Code and visits graphic designer Steve Frykholm as he ruminates on 45 years at the Herman Miller furniture company, where Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girad and George Nelson built their reputations and created the canon of modern furniture.

This documentary short offers a rare glimpse into Frykholm's archives, unearthing previously unseen sketches and stories. Frykholm is now the vice president of creative design at Herman Miller, and his long tenure at the company began with his first assignment: a poster for the company’s the yearly picnic known as the Sweet Corn Festival. It features a large set of teeth biting into a cob of corn.

That corncob poster was created using silk-screen printing, a method Frykholm loves.

I like the smell of the ink, cutting the stencils, the saturation and the colour. It’s the physicality of it, why do people like to plant vegetables, dig in the dirt and see things grow? You just do it for the joy of doing it.

Since that first poster, Frykholm has designed and printed a poster for the picnic every year. One year it would be peas in a seven-layer salad, another year it would be ice-cream on a sugar cone (“It’s one of my favourites”). The picnic posters became a game at Herman Miller, and other employees would ask, “What’s he gonna do this year?”

The posters were popular with everyone – even New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) took notice. Today, Frykholm's bold pop art picnic posters are housed in the MoMA's permanent collection and are considered modern design classics.