How Andi Owen turned Herman Miller into a modern design juggernaut


The latest power move by the Herman Miller CEO: her recent bid to acquire Knoll for $1.8 billion.

When iconic American furniture designer Herman Miller announced it was acquiring Knoll last spring for $1.8 billion, it cemented its status as a modern design juggernaut. The feat was the latest power move by CEO Andi Owen, who joined Herman Miller in 2018 following a career at Gap.

Owen’s mission has been to expand Herman Miller’s ambit from an office furniture company (Herman Miller invented the cubicle in the 1960s) into a general design company that sells covetable goods for the office, the home, and everywhere in between. She acquired a majority interest in buzzy Danish furniture and accessories brand Hay in 2020, for example, to bolster Herman Miller’s direct-to-consumer audience. Today, direct retail accounts for 23% of the company’s business, up from 15% in 2018. Last year, Herman Miller released its first gaming chair, in conjunction with the computer accessories company Logitech, to tap into the $300 billion gaming industry. It sold out in a day.

“I’m new to the business,” Owen says, “so I approach things with different eyes. That helps us think about ourselves differently.” It’s working: Furniture retail sales grew by 12% last year industry-wide, but at Herman Miller’s brands, which include Design Within Reach, they rose 42%.

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About Author

Suzanne LaBarre

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D. Magazine, and Metropolis.

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