MODULAR FRAME OF MIND
AS ONE OF THE MOST PREFERRED NAMES AMONG DESIGNERS AND ARCHITECTS FOR FURNITURE IN PUBLIC SPACES, USM CHECKS THE BOXES FOR BOTH FORM AND FUNCTION. DISCUSSING PREVALENT TRENDS, ERIC BERCHTOLD, DIRECTOR MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA, USM, SHARES WHY THE UAE AND THE WIDER MIDDLE EAST REGION REMAIN AN EVOLVING MARKET FOR THE BRAND
Swiss furniture producer, USM, is a renowned name in the design world, thanks to its innovative spin on modularity, coupled with value for the past 50 years. Over the course of time, the brand has carved a niche for itself by maintaining top quality in its materials, styling, modifiable functionalities and timeless design.
Symbolised by attributes such as contemporary design, flexibility, quality and durability, the brand’s original Haller System has been widely celebrated as a design classic and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It can also be found in the Louis Vuitton Foundation offices, The Musée d’Orsay and the Zurich Design Museum, among others.
What are the emerging furniture trends in the industry?
The UAE is unlike any other market, as it caters to such a broad audience, and takes so much influence from other regions. The ability to regionalise international trends is one of my favourite things, and the increasing push to develop spaces that reflect the needs of the community. No two spaces in the UAE are the same, and the opportunity to be immersed in so many varying design styles is quite unique.
A combination of international and local designs, focus on community spaces, and European trends and products informs the Middle Eastern market. Additionally, sustainable design with a strong focus on quality and durability is equally important. In the UAE, execution and quality often doesn’t match the level of design and innovation, and there is a lot of scope to improve.
Who are your end users?
The modular nature of USM furniture caters to the needs of a wide range of users. We live in a fast-paced environment where adaptation has become an essential skill. It is crucial to be able to build on flexible systems and solid references, which is the vision of USM's modular modern furniture, a system designed for infinite reuse and reconfiguration, and one that increases the life of the material and improves the furniture’s environmental impact over time. USM furniture can be used
at home, in the office, as well as retail spaces. We tailor our furniture for interior designers, architects, business owners and home owners.
What are your new launches?
The new Haller E System is now available in the region after launching in the Middle East in late 2017. The new system includes lighting, USB charging options and can be configured into a range of sizes to best suit each individual space. There are 14 colour combinations available and two difference light choices — daylight glow or a warm white ambiance. The USM Haller E builds on the iconic modular ball-and-tube frame of the original Haller system and allows power to flow through the furniture’s structure cable-free. Additionally, classic USM Haller furniture, no matter when it was made, can be adapted to feature smart lighting elements.
Where do you manufacture your products?
We manufacture everything in Switzerland, which ensures the best quality and supervision of the product from beginning to end. USM is a familyrun, Swiss brand and the manufacturing element is a large part of our roots as a business.
What are your expansion plans in this region?
We are working on multiple projects throughout the year, as well as continuing to promote our range of products. As always, we will be working closely with our distributors to ensure that USM modular furniture enjoys top of the mind recall with key players in the design, architecture and interiors sectors across the region.
What are the challenges in this market for the suppliers?
In such a multicultural, transient market, it takes real effort and time to build and maintain relationships in the industry, keep up with trends that the market wants to see and communicate your brand’s news and personality in a way that leaves a lasting impression. Additionally, there is a constant stream of projects taking place, and there is a level of creativity required in conceptualising the best way to present your products in a given space.