Brian Kane was first introduced to industrial design by a high school guidance counselor. “He pointed at his office chair, his phone, the clock, and said, ‘These were all designed by someone,’ ” recalls Kane.
After graduating from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and designing appliances in New York for a year, Kane and his wife moved to Milan, where he literally knocked on doors. Silvio Coppola’s door opened, and it changed Kane’s life. “Seeing his passion for design was a real head-turner for me,” he says.
Kane returned to New York and took a position with Atelier International. In 1977, he joined the Metropolitan Furniture Corporation, later becoming one of the owning partners. There, he got involved with manufacturing. “It’s such an integral part of what we do,” he explains. In 1989, Kane established Kane Design Studio in San Francisco, where he focuses on seating. “It’s all about comfort and innovation,” he says. “I have always attempted to explore materials and processes and use them in ways that add an element of detail that’s unique.”
When developing Swoop Lounge Furniture for Herman Miller, Kane drew on his experience as a teacher at the California College of Art, where he observed how students interact with furniture. “They don’t really sit in a chair; they sprawl, they lie, they perch," he says. "They can be totally tuned out in a busy environment as long as they’re comfortable.” With Swoop, Kane wanted to “respond to that form-wise with ‘swooping’ curves people can throw their arms or legs over and still be well-supported."
Kane’s designs have won more than 80 awards and been exhibited at the Whitney and Brooklyn Museums in New York and MoMA in San Francisco. He’s especially proud to have his products sitting alongside those of Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson in the product offer of the Herman Miller online store. “For me," he says, "that’s as good as it gets.”