Herman Miller’s New York flagship combines furniture with accessories, vintage pieces and one-of-a-kind objects to create a warm, authentic store experience that makes shoppers feel right at home.
Although it is based in Zeeland, Mich., global design manufacturer Herman Miller seems to be a natural fit for contemporary big-city tastes. Since the early 20th century, the company has excelled at making functional, comfortable and fashionable furniture for those seeking clean and modern lines.
Opened in November 2016, Herman Miller’s 6,000-sq.-ft. New York flagship brings the company’s family of brands under the same roof for the first time, occupying two of the company’s eight-floor presence. It is located at 251 Park Ave. S, in the retail hub where Union Square, Gramercy and the Flatiron District meet.
“The New York tri-state area is a prime retail market, with consistent top performance for our retailers and our online store,” says Linda Choong, vice president of consumer business for the brand. “Herman Miller also has a long history in New York City. There is a continuous thread from Alexander Girard’s Textiles and Objects shop in the early 1960s and our pop-up shop in SoHo a few years ago to the flagship store today. We understand that physical retail is a critical touchpoint for engaging with consumers and critical to Herman Miller’s strategy of being recognized as a premium lifestyle company.”
The in-house design team’s goal for the interior was to create a clean showroom experience while keeping a homey vibe. Carefully chosen vintage and modern accessories from Herman Miller and other brands add to the lived-in feel of the space.
“All residential categories are touched on and meticulously curated,” says Jennie Maneri, creative director of consumer for Herman Miller. “Tabletop ranges from Iittala’s Teema dinnerware with its beautiful simplicity to the hand-thrown ceramics of Helen Levi and crystal vessels from Deborah Ehrlich. For floorcoverings, we offer Danskina’s Hella Jongerius-designed rugs, as well as handpicked vintage Moroccan rugs from Breuckelen Berber.”
Beyond the extensive array of furniture from current and vintage Herman Miller collections, there also are pieces from subsidiary Geiger, as well as partners Magis and Mattiazzi.
Maneri says there are additional items throughout the space that fit the aesthetic well. “Accents and stationery celebrate Alexander Girard from Vitra,” she says. “Lighting includes our own Ode and Nelson Bubble lamps mixed with Noguchi-designed Akari lights and Wastberg’s modern lighting collection. We offer bedding in linen or cotton, accent pillows from Maharam, and blankets from Roros Tweed. Upstairs we have a library and reading room thanks to Phaidon.”
The two retail floors feature locally sourced, reclaimed heart pine—a design element that carries over onto the landings of the other floors of the flagship. A white gallery-like space creates a backdrop for the colors and shapes of the furniture and décor, providing minimal “noise,” but maximum flexibility.
Stephen Floyd, senior environmental director at Herman Miller, says the first floor is set up to flow like a house, with spaces for eating, sleeping, entertaining, etc. “When you walk through the store, you are in essence walking through our home, from the entry vestibule to the great room where the cashwrap plays the role of a kitchen island,” he explains. “The second floor is structured more as a workshop, where you can find the perfect task chair for your home or office, or work with one of our design consultants to select the fabric for your sofa.”
Floyd says fixtures are composed as a movable kit-of-parts that can be reconfigured as the store’s needs change. “The layout of fixtures provides areas of compression and openness and a series of thresholds that people can move through,” he explains. “Those spaces help evoke the feeling of being in a specific room or passing through a doorway. This fixture system also allows us the ability to control views through the space and help us create a sense of discovery.”
Maneri says one exceptional fixture is the Comprehensive Storage System (CSS) designed by George Nelson, former director of design for Herman Miller. The 12-ft.-high shelves run the length of the back wall of the ground floor space behind the cashwrap (see opening spread) and feature 10 bays and custom-made uprights. “As CSS is no longer in production, our corporate archivist hunted all over the country to source vintage components to fill this massive installation,” she says. “This piece is a permanent fixture laden with artifacts and images that visually weave together our Herman Miller history, and provides a bit of the experience that customers would have if they visited our headquarters in Michigan.”
While Choong says Herman Miller is mainly focusing on just this flagship for now, she is hopeful that the New York store helps the company deepen its relationships with existing Herman Miller fans, as well as create new ones. She says many clients tell her how the store reminds them of their own homes.
“What I’ve realized during these conversations is that while they may own one or even several pieces of Herman Miller furniture, what people especially relate to in the new store is the feeling of the modern home we’ve created,” Choong says. “How we’ve combined our furniture with accessories, vintage pieces and one-of-a-kind objects resonates with them. There is a warmth to the experience that feels authentic and familiar. It is representative of how people live today.”
Herman Miller Inc.
IN-HOUSE DESIGN FIRM/SIGNAGE AND GRAPHICS
Herman Miller Brand Design
Herman Miller Inc., Geiger International Inc., Magis SpA, Mattiazzi SRLs
Information in the project file is provided by the retailer and/or design firm.