Once a warehouse district home to Chicago’s meatpacking operations, Fulton Market’s current neighborhood has become defined by its tech, entertainment, and burgeoning restaurant scene within the approximately 74-acre expanse in the Chicago’s West Loop. As of March 2021, one new tenant of the district is experiencing a modern transformation of its own. Last month, Herman Miller Group announced a new multi-brand, multi-use, five-story retail and contract destination that signals an entrance of its global brands into off-the-sidewalk retail space.
The standalone location is 45,000 square-feet, occupying a historic 1920s brick building and an adjoining five-story new build with a rooftop and outdoor pavilion. The design and showroom experiences indoors are aligned with concepts outlined with the WELL Building Standard, signaling Herman Miller’s continued commitment to promoting health, wellness, and sustainability in its real estate portfolio. In close collaboration with Herman Miller’s own in-house design team, the space was developed by Fulton St. Companies to retain the original façade, while blending into the surrounding enmeshment of historic corridor and modern tech destination.
The location comes to Fulton Market after Herman Miller transitioned from a traditional trade-only showroom nearby at the Merchandise Mart. It includes the family of eight brands under one roof as well as retail, showroom, and exhibition space.
“Today, more than ever, our customers are focused on creating useful places that matter,” said Andi Owen, chief executive officer of Herman Miller Group. “Our integrated approach blends home and work environments to respond not just to the needs of our core A&D customers, but also business leaders grappling with how to evolve their offices for tomorrow. Likewise, we’re also meeting the growing demands of consumers who now, perhaps more than ever, have a heightened need, awareness, and appreciation of good design at home.”
Inside, Herman Miller has designed a customer-first experience that harnesses the advantages of each brand across retail and trade. This collective synergy starts from the ground floor, where Herman Miller’s three distinct retail brands—Design Within Reach, HAY, and Herman Miller—will exist side-by-side. Offerings will comprise performance seating for the office, functional furnishings by industry greats like the Eames brothers and Norm Architects, and forward-thinking Danish design serving kitchen, bedroom, and more, respectively.
These last offerings by HAY deliver the brand’s mission to offer attainable, colorful, stylishly designed products like desk accessories, office organizers, garden tools, lighting, furnishings, and more. The ground floor retail complements additional offerings and showrooms above, namely the heart of the design center housed in the Herman Miller space on level three, as well as Geiger and Maharam showrooms.
“Herman Miller at Fulton Market addresses the biggest questions CEOs, executives, facility managers, commercial realtors, and designers are asking: What’s next?” stated Tim Straker, chief marketing officer at Herman Miller Group in the press release. “We approached the new showrooms with that same forward-looking outlook and have introduced real solutions to bring people back together.”
The backdrop for a lively open lounge and meeting area is set on floor three with Maharam Digital Projects’ Arche Noah by Sonnhild Kestler. The surrounding space supports trade consumers and a human-centric experience that looks at new ways of working with a more distributed workforce. Highlights in this area include the debut of OE1, which is an agile, modular workstation collection designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin.
A staircase leads down to a second-floor showroom where designers can compare a multitude of workstation options side-by-side; they are interspersed with archival objects celebrating more than a century of good design, as well as accessories available to shop downstairs at Design Within Reach and HAY. Designers will also find product highlights from Herman Miller subsidiaries Colebrook Bosson Saunders and naughtone.
The archival additions are continued adjacent to the Herman Miller Showroom on the third floor, in the Eames Pavilion, which features a library, exhibition space, and outdoor terrace, providing a platform for education and open engagement. The Pavilion has a rotating exhibition that opened in March 2021 with “Herman Miller: A Way of Living,” which a book exhibition chronicling the brand’s storied history, with over a century of boundary-pushing home and office design.
“In the stories we tell and the things we make, we’re always looking to connect the company’s timeless ideas from the past to offer industry-leading resources and thinking that shape the present and future,” said Amy Auscherman, Head of Archives and Brand Heritage at Herman Miller.
In contrast to the open plan of Herman Miller’s two-story showroom, Geiger presents private office solutions like modular case goods, customizable workstations, and architectural furniture within the context of sleek glass partitions by Maars Living Walls, a worldwide leader in interior wall solutions and a subsidiary of Herman Miller Inc. Highlights here include Geiger One, a new approach to case goods informed by years of experience creating customized solutions.
Nearby, Maharam is a leading creator of holistically inclined textiles for commercial and residential interiors. As with other Maharam showrooms designed by architect Neil Logan, the decidedly minimal interior features a central textile display on a white partitioned table, highlighting an evolving field of color, pattern and texture. Textiles from Maharam’s 2021 wool initiative are integrated into the showroom display, including Beck, a tailored plain weave on the Chadwick Modular Sofa in the guest seating area.
Though contract showrooms are open by appointment-only, Herman Miller, HAY, and Design Within Reach on the ground floor are open daily at 1100 West Fulton Market in Chicago. Together they comprise a new way to experience the globally recognized leader in design, which has been providing problem solving design and furnishings to people wherever they live, work, heal, learn, and play, since 1905.
Text: R. Collins
Photography: Herman Miller