Herman Miller Is Leaning Into Remote Working

Responding to a 300 percent increase in individual task chair sales, the heritage furniture brand opens two new bricks-and-mortar locations that cater exclusively to home offices.

Aeron Chair by Herman Miller

The coronavirus pandemic has forced most furniture purveyors and design showrooms to close their doors and pivot to digital sales, so it may sound odd to hear that Herman Miller recently opened two new bricks-and-mortar store concepts in New York City and Los Angeles. The heritage office furniture brand is leaning into remote working by offering individuals—not just companies—the opportunity to test drive their famous high-performance Aeron, Sayl, and Cosm task chairs in-person for their home office setup, offering both an educational and experiential process for customers.  

Designed in-house by the brand’s creative design team, each 1,500-square-foot Herman Miller Stores outpost is staffed with dedicated ergonomics experts who can help shoppers better understand the health and productivity benefits of sitting well. The in-person consultations are also crucial to convince customers who may not immediately understand the value of great design to spend upwards of $1,500 on an office chair tailored to their specific ergonomic needs. “Some people fidget while they work, so they need a chair that adapts to their movement,” Debbie Propst, Herman Miller’s head of retail, tells Fast Company. “Others don’t move as much, but they need more back support since they’ll be stationary for hours.” Given the extent of Herman Miller’s catalogue, shoppers will likely find an ideal chair for their seating habits—they can customize each chair’s physical features, ranging from pressure distribution and breathable suspension materiality to backrest adjustments, as well as pick out their preferred colors and finishes on-site.

Sayl Chair by Herman Miller

Propst goes on to explain that we’ve been sitting longer during quarantine than any time in history. “The dining room chair just isn’t cutting it anymore,” Propst continues. “We can do better, especially when it comes to our well-being. The public deserves healthier alternatives and they’re searching for better solutions online.” It’s a strategic move for Herman Miller, which has seen overall sales decline by 13 percent as revenue from its corporate contracts—by far the most profitable arm of its business—fall by one quarter since the onset of the pandemic. The company’s two showrooms, located in New York and Tokyo, have both shuttered. At the same time, the widespread pivot to remote working has yielded more than 300 percent increases in home office furniture sales compared to last year—a trend that’s expected to continue. 

The first Herman Miller Stores concept debuted at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles, and a second location is slated to open on Nov. 20 in The Shops at Hudson Yards in New York. Additional locations will open across the country in 2021. Shoppers can also schedule virtual visits to each store through personalized one-on-one video calls.

Cosm Chair by Herman Miller
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