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Herman Miller unveils its NYC flagship full of midcentury silhouettes

The purveyor of iconic midcentury wares unveils its first brick and mortar store

Photos by Max Touhey

For more than 80 years, Michigan-based manufacturer Herman Miller has been one of, if not the most prominent purveyors of modernist design. Thanks to its collaborations with the biggest designers of the time—Ray and Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Alexander Girard, and the like—the company’s name has become all but synonymous with midcentury modern furniture, which has grown ever more popular since its 1950s and ’60s heyday.

Despite that, there has never been a brick-and-mortar Herman Miller store in the United States, where Eames obsessives could go to see those iconic recliners or the couple’s space-age accessories in person. The company operates a downright massive factory in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its products are available online and in showrooms, but a true flagship store hasn’t been part of the company’s plan—until now.

This week, Herman Miller opened its first North American retail hub in a historic Park Avenue building that also houses its offices, along with Design Within Reach (which the company acquired in 2014). The bi-level space is bright, open, and inviting, with different spaces dedicated to the different functions of everyday life—sleeping, dining, working, and so on. The idea, according to Linda Choong, Herman Miller’s vice president of consumer business, is to expand the brand’s fanbase beyond its core audience.

“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,” explains Choong, citing the well-known (and oft-copied) designs by Eames and others.

The first floor is set up to look like a home: As you enter the store, you’ll see sections set up like a foyer, a living room, and bedrooms (including a kid’s room outfitted with a little Nelson daybed). The second floor, meanwhile, is more of a showroom, with dozens of Herman Miller’s beloved items—Aeron chairs, Eames molded shell chairs, and Bolster sofas—available to customize with any number of fabric options.

The store itself will be like catnip for fans of midcentury modern furniture, with all of the classics well-represented: buttery leather Eames recliners, retro-cool shell chairs, and George Nelson’s modular marshmallow sofa are all among the products you’ll find throughout the store, along with pieces that are less iconic, but no less beautiful. And furniture isn’t the only thing for sale: It’s is also stocked with plenty of accessories that complement the pieces by Nelson and Noguchi, from sheets and pillows for the bedroom to cute children’s toys.

The effect, according to Choong, is meant to “help people imagine how they can live in a modern way”—something that’s been part of the Herman Miller ethos from day one. “The idea of being a good host is core to who we are as a brand,” explains Choong. “I think you’ll get a sense of that when you walk into the space.” And now, you can see for yourself.