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Brick and Mortar Is Still Very Much Top of Mind for These Allstar Design Businesses

Brick and Mortar Is Still Very Much Top of Mind for These Allstar Design Businesses

Before COVID-19 disrupted life as we know it, the interior design industry was facing an encouraging financial picture for early 2020. And while the hospitality sector has subsequently teetered, home furnishings and renovations are still thriving to the point where many interior businesses are making the next counterintuitive leap. Multiple brands, makers, and heritage companies are leaning into new or expanded brick-and-mortar endeavors, revealing an optimistic outlook and robust market despite the substantial amount of vacant retail square footage.

In the case of Herman Miller, the corporation adjusted to shifting demands while preparing retail plans that predated the pandemic. The first two 1,500-square-foot locations—one in Los Angeles, at the Century City Westfield mall, and one in New York, at the Shops at Hudson Yards—address growing individual consumer interest in the company’s performance seating as work-from-home has become the new norm (and a welcome change, given the absence of large trade orders). At the Herman Miller stores, customers can try out task chairs in an environment that tells the story of this legacy company and its iconic pieces.

The Herman Miller outpost in L.A.’s Century City.

Photo: Courtesy of Herman Miller

Meanwhile, Debra Folz’s serendipitous experience poses a contrasting trajectory. The RISD-trained Long Island native made an ill-timed move from Providence, Rhode Island, to New York this past March. Instead of forging ahead with her intended Manhattan showroom, Folz decided on a space on Main Street in Westhampton after happening upon it while spending more time in the area herself. “This felt doable with this time,” she explains to AD PRO. Plus, serving as her own sales representative has its own business benefits—a cost-saving strategy that’s now possible thanks to the close proximity of her studio. Folz plans to maintain this presence through the end of the year and possibly through early 2021.

Inside the new Debra Folz space. 

Photo: Move Mountains

Vases for sale at Susanna Hollis Antiques.

Photo: Minh Tran

In California, Mik Hollis has been busy evolving the to-the-trade Susanne Hollis Antiques enterprise that his mother founded more than 30 years ago. The new Hollis flagship on Lincoln Avenue in Pasadena is now complete, with the Hollis San Marino retail space soon to follow in the storied community located near the landmark Huntington Library and Gardens. “Our business has always been based on our relationships,” Mik Hollis observes. “We still believe in a level of trust that only an IRL [experience] can deliver. Our approach to opening a new space is based in moving past the outmoded parts of retail to work in tandem with our in-store offerings.”

Additional West Coast examples abound. This December, Tina Frey Designs from San Francisco is heading south to open the doors to TF Design Montecito in the San Ysidro Village shopping center. Also in the Santa Barbara–adjacent town is The Webster at the Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel, which is largely fashion-focused but encompasses design objects as part of its mixed-genre retail approach.

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