APG's "Future Furniture Rockstars" Visit MillerKnoll at Fulton Market
Road trip & immersive training inspires thoughts from one our newest team members
We asked one of our recent additions to the business development team to reflect on a trip to Fulton Market in Chicago. Danyon Hempy, from our Northeast Ohio market, walks us through his reactions while visiting MillerKnoll showrooms for the first time. He was joined by fellow Business Development Managers, Alex Keller (Dayton), Sam Rossell (Cincinnati), Jessica Reed (NE Ohio), and Gabe Kessler (NE Ohio), along with APG leaders Sarah Smallwood, Kyle Goins, and Jeff Schultz.
Thank you, Danyon, for a look at Fulton Market through fresh eyes!
Prior to the holiday season, folks from the Cleveland, Akron, Cincinnati, and Dayton APG teams went to Chicago for quite the treat. Since Summer 2022, the furniture industry has been completely flipped upside down after the announcement of the HermanMiller & Knoll merger. The two giants of the industry have finally come together as one, providing their customers with design and engineering excellence from each company. Although this news has been great to the end users, legacy Herman Miller and legacy Knoll dealers have realized there would be a lot of work ahead.
Since joining APG in September of ‘22, I have been flooded with product knowledge, history, and general furniture industry information, and now you’re telling me I must learn the products from the two biggest furniture companies in the world?! Overwhelmed is certainly a feeling that has been consuming me since joining the team; however, I came to the realization that I get to represent both world-renowned companies and their everlasting designs and interpretations of modern furniture – how cool! I can provide my customers office solutions that are not only ergonomic, but timeless, sustainable, and eco-friendly.
When I first joined the furniture industry, I had the preconceived notion that I was simply going to be selling office chairs and desks, but boy was I wrong.
Arriving at the Fulton Market District, the Knoll showroom took our breath away. We were met with some of the most beautiful and elegant office displays any of us had ever seen. Our Knoll tour had just begun, and we were beyond impressed with the colors, artistry, and attention to detail.
After a quick lunch and a bit of Knoll history, we went to the third floor to learn about Muuto. Knoll acquired Muuto in 2019, providing the world some of the most aesthetically pleasing pieces on the market. Products range from side chairs to full-size lounge sofas in vibrant colors and nude/wood finishes, respectively.
When I first joined the furniture industry, I had the preconceived notion that I was simply going to be selling office chairs and desks, but boy was I wrong. Imagine my surprise after learning about the vast array of products our manufacturers produce and represent. We had been in Chicago for just three hours and already felt inspired with so much knowledge about our product offerings, and this was only the beginning!
Wrapping up with Muuto, we headed back to the main Knoll Showroom for the next part of the tour. Our amazing tour guide, Carlie, walked us through the showroom describing the different spaces and the inspiration behind them.
Towards the end of the day, we spent some time walking around soaking up more of the showroom. The entire time, I was constantly catching myself in a daze. I had never thought furniture would be this amazing. Growing up on a farm, I helped my father and grandfather with various projects, so appreciate challenging work and thoughtful craftsmanship. Touring the Knoll showroom brought that appreciation back out of me.
After leaving the Knoll showroom, we went to Aba, a Jeff Schultz favorite! At the rooftop lounge, we enjoyed each other’s company over a few craft cocktails and amazing atmosphere. Dinner was at another Jeff Schultz favorite – Boqueria, a small plate tapas restaurant. The waitstaff and chefs constantly were bringing out new dishes for everyone to try! We tried everything. The octopus was a new experience for me, and it was surprisingly tasty! We ended dinner with crunchy churros and went back to the hotel for a nice night’s rest!
The next morning, we woke up ready for what the Herman Miller team had in store for us. We stepped foot into the showroom and were met with elegant spaces and beautiful furniture. We all had a bit more familiarity with the products here because APG is a legacy Herman Miller dealer. Nonetheless, it was amazing to see how the individual spaces were designed, inspiring us all to provide better solutions for our clients.
The first floor of the showroom was outfitted with a display of the Herman Miller task chairs, the new gaming chairs, and pieces with a more residential feel. This area stood out to me, since we typically don’t work on residential projects , but the variety of displays showed how HermanMiller elevates a personal residence.
The second floor illustrated a variety of different workplace applications. We saw common 4-person workstations, private meeting solutions, collaboration spaces, private offices, conference rooms, private phone booths, and so much more. This space really showed the different capabilities that Herman Miller furniture can provide. One aspect that stood out to me was how a large floorplan is broken up into different environments. With the use of walls and sound dampening technology, it seemed like every 10-15 feet we were stepping into a whole new world of possibilities, and it was incredibly inspiring.
Heading to the third floor, we checked out the café area along with some more workplace settings. However, the best part about the third floor was the archives.
We saw a few original pieces as well as a vast timeline of company milestones throughout the last century. Walking around, the only word that kept popping into my mind was “timeless.” Many of the designs and colors are still in use – and sought after-- today. The founders of HermanMiller (& Knoll) were ahead of their time in design and quality. It is impressive that they remain iconic staples in the industry.
For example, the Marshmallow Sofa was designed and issued in 1956, but it is still one of the most interesting and fascinating pieces offered. A unique, modern piece, it is hard to believe it was released nearly 70 years ago! This same story can be told for many of the pieces offered by Herman Miller.
We were in for a treat of class, elegance, and luxury at our next stop. The fourth floor, displays are Geiger, known for exquisite hand-crafted wood finishes and luxurious design, and comes with a price tag to match. Taking it all in, I understood the exclusivity of the Geiger products. Made-to-order and customized for the exact specifications of the client, Geiger is certainly a showstopper for any office space. We were lucky enough to see different workstations and lounge options as well as some of the most beautiful private offices I had ever seen. The craft and design of Geiger really stood out, helping me understand the pricing. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth with this product line.
As our time in Chicago came to a close, we enjoyed a quick lunch, thanked our hosts, and said our goodbyes. Walking the streets of Chicago, we were exhausted after all the incredible things we had seen, but bursting with ideas that will help us redefine possibilities for our clients.
Although I was happy to be home with my puppy, Franklin, I was sad to have left the Windy City and all the amazing products and people in the Herman Miller and Knoll showrooms in Fulton Market. This is an experience I will never forget.
Many thanks to MillerKnoll and APG team, especially Gabe and Jessica for enduring my driving abilities. All jokes aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief time in the city. It is always a pleasant change of pace to experience new and exciting places because it truly gave me a different perspective on the world and a new appreciation for this amazing industry to which I now belong.
Until the next time, Windy City!