“WOW!” was my first reaction. Then it was “How did they do that?” Quickly followed by “I wonder how much it cost?”
Herman Miller’s new store in Singapore by local design agency Produce, is a fabulous example of statement design, brand intent and drama-building all rolled into one.
It’s dominated by a billowing plywood form that frames the entrance and flows into the store. I love how something rigid transmutes into something so sinuous and supple.
I like the way too they’ve thought beyond traditional wood techniques, appropriating the dress-making method of darting, where a triangular portion is removed and the two remaining edges joined together. Apparently the holes are there by necessity to stop the wood splitting, but this happy accident only goes to reinforce the cellular, organic appearance.
As for how much it cost I’ve no idea, but really the question should be is it good value? If all it’s going to do is make someone say “wow!” without flogging any more office furniture then Herman Miller might be better off getting into the gallery business.
As a simple return on investment through a single store it might be hard to quantify. There are some good reasons why it could be a sound investment though.
Herman Miller are renowned for innovative construction techniques and materials and an in-depth consideration of human anatomy, so the form provides a tangible expression of this. If it was just a store space with office furniture in, it would always look like, well… a store space with office furniture in, which would just reinforce a perception of sameness and give less reasons to enter.
And if you’re looking for more prosaic reasons it also helps to frame the entrance and zone the store with faster and slower-paced areas so it’s not just decoration either. So from a shopper viewpoint it helps them make sense of the store and creates an environment that encourages browsing and dwell.
Plus, you can guarantee they’ll be making a lot of publicity mileage from it – this article being just one example of extending their reach beyond normal marketing channels.
One might argue that you could achieve all the above for a lot less but it’s a question of degree. In this instance I think it’s great that a brand is willing to be so experimental and push the boundaries just that bit further.