News was announced yesterday that American furniture company Herman Miller, whose products include the Eames Lounge Chair and Noguchi table, has acquired Knoll, further expanding its furniture offerings. Both companies have been leaders in commissioning contemporary architects to design furniture, from Frank Gehry and David Adjaye (Knoll) to Ron Arad and Isay Weinfeld (Herman Miller).
The combination of the two companies under Herman Miller will expand its U.S. and international footprint with a combined portfolio of Knoll’s well-established pieces, such as the works of Eero Saarinen and Marcel Breuer as well as Knoll’s partner brands like Muuto, HOLLY HUNT, and DatesWeiser.
Knoll has been based in Pennsylvania since 1950, and the company was founded by German-American Hans Knoll in New York City in 1938 and later run by his spouse, the designer Florence Knoll. Over 40 of its designs–such as Breuer’s Wassily and Cesca chairs and the Barcelona chair by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–are in the permanent collection at MoMA.
According to the leadership of both businesses, the merger will position Herman Miller as even a stronger leader in modern design for office and residential furniture. “This transaction brings together two pioneering icons of design with strong businesses, attractive portfolios and long histories of innovation,” said Andi Owen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Herman Miller, in the press release.
“We believe this combination offers significant benefits to our shareholders, clients, dealers and associates,” added Andrew Cogan, Knoll Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in the press release. “And our associates will benefit as part of a larger and more diversified company with a shared design legacy.”
The transaction, for which Herman Miller paid $1.8 billion, is expected to close later this year but is “subject to the satisfaction of closing conditions,” said the press release. Once finalized, Owen will serve as President and CEO and Cogan will depart. Herman Miller shareholders are expected to own approximately 78 percent of the new business and Knoll’s, around 22 percent.
Herman Miller was founded in 1905 in Zeeland, Michigan, and in the late 1940s was run by American industrial designer and architect George Nelson, during which he recruited many talents, including Isamu Noguchi and Charles and Ray Eames. Throughout the four decades under Nelson, Herman Miller positioned itself as a leading modernist furniture company and produced some of its most iconic pieces. It is also a leader in premium office furniture, particularly with its signature Aeron chair.
In 2018 the Herman Miller Group was established to include a larger family of brands such as Design Within Reach, a direct-to-consumer retailer acquired in 2014 that houses dozens of high-end designs (including Knoll’s pieces) as well as HAY, Maharam, and more.
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