Standout Collaborations and Partnerships In The Furniture Industry
The collaborations and acquisitions of big furniture brands signal a shift in expanding their business footprint and reaping from creative fecundity.
When furniture brands collide, their creative egos may get a beating but in our pick of recent furniture partnerships, mergers and collaborations, these reached fruition. So read on to discover how some of these revered furniture brands amped up their brand and style quotient through these beneficial business couplings.
Under one brand, two luminaries of Danish modernist design who have both been producing durable furniture and lighting for everyday use have joined. The venerable labels Menu and By Lassen were renamed to Audo Copenhagen in June 2023. Design Holding purchased Menu and by Lassen in 2022. The Kubus collection by architect Mogens Lassen, the Tired Man by his brother Flemming Lassen, and new designs by Audo Copenhagen’s design and brand director, Joachim Kornbek Engell-Hansen, the grandson of Menu founder Simon Hansen, will all be on display at Copenhagen’s annual design festival, 3daysofdesign, which will run from June 7 to 9. In 1978, Hansen established the business under the name Danish Steel House.
“Menu and its multipurpose property in Copenhagen, aptly named The Audo, have a unique identity that customers worldwide have responded to enthusiastically. By Lassen is also strongly established in Scandinavia and the global design scene. Together, Menu and By Lassen’s product portfolios and strengths combine to create an obvious global leader in high-end interior design,” said Kornbek Engell-Hansen.
The new company will launch designs and a room that will be covered in an eclectic mix of upholstery fabrics by designers such as Kelly Wearstler, Christian Lacroix (by Designers Guild), and Italian fabric and wall coverings maker Dedar, among others. if you’re interested in these pieces, Menu and By Lassen are stocked at Made&Make.
Knoll X Herman Miller
Following the completion of the billion-dollar merger between Herman Miller and Knoll, the two storied office furniture companies unveiled a new name: MillerKnoll.
Herman Miller and Knoll announced a USD 1.8 billion merger in early 2021, uniting the two venerable American office furniture companies under a single common portfolio. Three months after the news first surfaced, the two stalwarts have now provided further details about how their union will work. MillerKnoll will be the name of the newly amalgamated company, pending approval from Herman Miller shareholders. Under the MillerKnoll umbrella, all distinct brands, including Herman Miller, Knoll, Holly Hunt, Hay, and Design Within Reach, will continue to go by their original identities.
While the new logo may be an unsettling change for traditionalists in the design world, it also paves a hopeful future for both brands’ long-term viability in a sector dealing with profound changes in the way we live and work. Both businesses appear prepared to overcome these obstacles under the new corporate umbrella. Before the pandemic ushered in a widespread remote work culture, “resimercial” offices were already booming. Herman Miller effectively capitalised on this trend with a unique experiential retail model that appeals to both contract clients and everyday shoppers.
Andi Owen, president and chief executive officer of MillerKnoll, claims that the merger will be mutually beneficial because the new organisation will enable the brands to build on one another’s advantages and achieve more than they could independently. The expansion of the company’s retail and contract channels in both categories, as well as the development of new manufacturing, technological, and digital strategies, will be its immediate top priority if the purchase is approved.
“This transaction brings together two pioneering icons of design with strong businesses, attractive portfolios and long histories of innovation,” said Herman Miller CEO Andi Owen.
Between them, Herman Miller and Knoll have 19 brands and a presence in more than 100 countries and are stocked at Xtra. Both businesses have produced a number of renowned designs, with Herman Miller producing the Aeron chair by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick as well as the Eames lounge chair. Wassily by Marcel Breuer, Barcelona by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, and others are all available at Knoll.
Foscarini + Ingo Maurer
In order to spread awareness of the late German designer and “poet of light”‘s work internationally, the Italian lighting business Foscarini purchased the Ingo Maurer brand. 90 per cent of the company was acquired by the Venice-based Foscarini, and 10 per cent was retained by Sarah Utermöhlen, Maurer’s daughter.
“After carefully evaluating all the options, my sister Claude Mauer and I have decided that inclusion within the Foscarini creativity hub is the best strategy to enable Ingo Maurer to continue to strengthen its path of growth on a national and international level at the same time as conserving its founding traditions and values,” Utermöhlen said.
“We are convinced Foscarini is the right company to give further impetus and development to the artistic world of Ingo,” Utermöhlen added.
After Maurer passed away in October 2019, reviewers paid their respects to “the most inventive and creative lighting designer of the century” and announced the sale. Foscarini intends to expand the market for the designs and will continue to operate Ingo Mauer as a separate brand.
In a Dezeen report, Foscarini founder Carlo Urbinati explained, “We will manage the brand Ingo Mauer in full respect of the company’s DNA and its important heritage.”
“We have had the opportunity to guarantee ourselves the honour and burden of playing a part in ensuring that the story of Ingo Maurer continues to be talked about around the world and support its further development on global markets.”
He also added, “After carefully evaluating all the options, my sister Claude Mauer and I have decided that inclusion within the Foscarini creativity hub is the best strategy to enable Ingo Maurer to continue to strengthen its path of growth on a national and international level at the same time as conserving its founding traditions and values,” Utermöhlen said.
“We are convinced Foscarini is the right company to give further impetus and development to the artistic world of Ingo.”
All of Ingo Maurer’s goods are currently created and manufactured in Munich, where the designer has done so since 1970. This includes important creations like the winged Lucellino table light and the Bulb lamp, both of which are shown as part of MoMA’s permanent collection. Foscarini is making an effort to boost its position in the decorative lighting industry by purchasing a company that blurs the lines between art and design, according to Urbinati. Ingo Maurer will also have access to the organisation’s larger network of more than 2,500 retailers worldwide, with the goal of expanding the brand in a number of areas, such as Italy, Asia, and the US. Fans of Foscarini and Ingo Maurer can be found at Space Furniture.
HAY X Herman Miller
HAY was founded in 2022 by Rolf Hay and his wife Mette. It is one of the leading Danish furniture brands renowned for its clean aesthetics and thoughtful play on colour, patterns and materiality. But in June 2018, the giant U.S. furniture brand Herman Miller acquired HAY to the tune of USD 66 million, as well as the rights to the HAY brand in North America for approximately USD 5 million.
In September 2022, the Danish couple dropped their new Eames Collection for Herman Miller. Charles and Ray Eames were enormous inspirations for these two creative Danes. Thus, HAY collaborated with Herman Miller to update eight iconic Eames pieces. Through the eyes of HAY founders, they reimagined Eames classics in a forward-thinking, first-of-its-kind collaboration.
This harmonious partnership resulted in Hay revisiting both the colour and materiality of iconic Eames’ pieces such as plastic shell chairs (both with and without arms), the plywood chair, and the sofa compact. Stocked at Xtra, the classic pieces are now offered in a whole new line of colours including Powder Pink (a terra-cotta, salmon-esque hue), Toffee (a smooth, sweet brown), or Iron Red (an earthy, southwest shade). The Danish couple spent a considerable amount of time at the Herman Miller archive to better understand the history of museum catalogues. They also toured the Maharam archive to dive deep into the vaults of its textile designer Alexander Girard.
As the Danes are big on sustainability, it was without a doubt that HAY pushed their green agenda on updating molded plastic shell chairs to include 100 per cent post-industrial recycled plastic. HAY also experimented with glass, adding glass-cast spheres on the Eames Hang-It-All and glass-cast slabs on the top of Eames Wire Base Low Table and Eames Universal Base Round Table.
The HAY x Herman Miller collection maintains the quintessential Herman Miller essence with a fun and modern twist. “Being very familiar with the existing colour range, my intention was to focus on looking ahead, instead of looking too far back,” said Mette Hay.