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Herman Miller Opens Its First Flagship Store In New York City

The legendary manufacturer of midcentury designs finally comes to the city.

By Annette Barlow December 16, 2016
Photos courtesy of Max Touhey / NY Curbed

If there’s one period of design history that has not only managed to stand the test of time, but actually increase in popularity over the decades, it’s got to be midcentury modernism. With simple, sweeping lines and playful utilitarianism, this period has become synonymous with understated chic—a style feted by only the very coolest. And while many designers try to put their spin on midcentury modernism, nothing beats the classics.

So it’s lucky that iconic furniture manufacturer Herman Miller have recently launched their flagship store in NYC—the first physical space the company has ever opened in the US. Located in a historic Park Avenue building, the space boasts two floors packed to the rafters with original midcentury silhouettes, along with the company’s offices and accessible design company Design Within Reach, which Herman Miller acquired in 2014.

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Although Herman Miller have a 900,000 square-foot factory and a 3,700-strong workforce in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its products are available in other stores and online, this will be the first time the prominent purveyors of midcentury design will render their showroom open to the public. And boy, what a showroom it is. With blond wood floors, dazzling white walls and a bank of glazing, the space is as bright, effortlessly stylish and seamlessly function as you’d expect.

The first floor is set up to look like a home, with partitioned areas serving differing everyday functions—sleeping, eating, working—while the second floor is more showroom-specific, hosting dozens of Herman Miller’s most celebrated items, along with plenty of lesser-known, but equally beautiful, pieces.

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It’s a bold move for the company, particularly in an era when digital purchasing rules, and increasing numbers of companies make the move to online platforms only, dispensing with the pricey overheads associated with physical spaces. On the other hand, we also seem to be entering a time when the idea of curation, legacy and the beauty of the physical product are associated with aspiration luxury and authenticity. Indeed, vinyl sales in the UK just recently overtook digital sales for the first time ever. So perhaps, it’s the perfect time for a heritage brand such as Herman Miller to take the leap into face-to-face sales.

Linda Choong, Herman Miller’s Vice President of Consumer Business, says the company is keen to expand the brand’s fan base, beyond Miller’s legion of die-hard designophiles.

“The store is designed to help people imagine how they can live in a modern way,” she says. “The folks who know us and love us will be visiting, but we’re also really excited to introduce ourselves to those who may not know Herman Miller the brand, but know our pieces.”

So, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past 60 years and aren’t familiar with Herman Miller’s back catalog, just what exactly are these iconic pieces? Well, Miller collaborated with everyone from Ray and Charles Eames to Isamu Noguchi, from Alexander Girard to George Nelson, and the products of these hook-ups have become midcentury archetypes: the Aeron chair, the Eames molded shell chair, the Bolster sofa, the modular marshmallow sofa. All present and correct in NYC, just waiting for you to visit.

And aside from providing you with the opportunity to pick up a beautiful piece for your home, along with some divine accessories (the plain wood sculptures are everything), the opening of the store will ensure the midcentury legacy for another generation.

 

 

Annette Barlow

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Annette Barlow

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Annette Barlow

Annette is freelance editor, sub-editor, journalist and proofreader with a fierce love of all things feminist, food and music. She is a regular fixture on the arts, culture and feature desks at The Guardian, and her words have appeared on NME, Great British Chefs, The Fly, The Line of Best Fit and Australian Times.

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