USM Haller Modular Storage System

We are able to provide a varied selection of modular storage solutions here at Aram Store.  So, we thought it may be helpful to provide a little insight and focus on one of these systems that you may already be familiar with, by either browsing in-store or online, but yet not fully appreciated its capabilities – the USM Haller Storage System.

The company was originally founded over a hundred years ago by Ulrich Schärer in Münsingen, Switzerland -  a small municipality located just south-east of the capital city, Bern.  Throughout the early years, they were predominantly known as an ironworks and locksmiths but then, in 1961, Paul Schärer (3rd generation) joined the family business and made the decision to build a new factory and office pavilion whilst also making plans to push the company’s output in a new direction.

USM - Factory

In 1963, after collaborating with the Swiss architect, Fritz Haller, to realise his new factory buildings, they also began to develop an idea for a flexible furniture system that could be used in the new office pavilion.  This idea endured and went on to become the USM Haller Storage System that we sell today.

Eventually, in 1965, Paul Schärer applied to patent the USM ball joint that, as well as being a crucial component in making the system flexible, also became a key feature in the overall appearance of the system.

USM - patented ball joint

Full scale production began in 1969 and one of the first, large contracts they secured was to fit out the Rothschild Bank in Paris, France.

USM - Rothschild Bank Paris

Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, they began to expand as a business and also started to produce new lines of products such as the USM Display range and the USM Kitos desk system before opening new subsidiaries and showrooms across the globe in France, Germany, USA and the Far East with a showroom opening in Tokyo, Japan in 2009.

In 2001, the USM Haller System was accepted into the permanent collection of MoMA, New York.

We hope that brief summary of the history of the USM brand explains a little about the heritage that lies behind the company.  But, to really understand the philosophy of the design of the Haller System, there are three key features of the system that need to be considered:

Form and Function:
The ‘form’ of a piece of furniture must always fall in line with its ‘function’ and the USM Haller System perfectly demonstrates this hierarchy. The function can clearly be seen in every aspect of the design and with their avoidance of fashionable trends, they have also created an enduring and timeless product.

USM -At home - FormModularity:
Flexibility should also be an important consideration when buying furniture and the USM modular furniture range can be used to create a complete office landscape or essential storage solutions within living areas for the home. Any of the tailor-made solutions that the system provides can also be added to, or altered to suit new requirements, at any time – the quintessence of any, fully functioning modular furniture system.

USM - At home - ModularityEcology and Sustainability:
At USM, there is a constant search into providing furniture solutions against an ever-increasing background of economic needs and ecological concerns. Therefore, the question of how to deal responsibly with energy emissions, raw materials and production methods has always played a central role in the development of their system. The shelf-life of a product must be of the utmost importance when it comes to ecological considerations – the longer a product can be used, the less it adversely impacts the environment. In their use of high-quality, durable materials, they are guaranteeing a long and dependable service life alongside a hope that their furniture will become ‘generational’ and handed down through the family for future use.

USM - At home - SustainabilityJust as Aram Designs is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the design of USM Haller Furniture System will reach the very same landmark next year in 2015. For any enquiries regarding the USM System, please feel free to speak to any of our USM experts in-store on Drury Lane or contact us by email or phone.

Myles Brown

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The Art of Looking Sideways - Aram 50th Anniversary Library

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher for Phaidon Press, chosen by Henrietta Thompson, Editor at Large, Wallpaper*

2014 marks a significant year for Aram Designs. On 9 April 1964 Zeev Aram opened his very first showroom on London’s King’s Road, Chelsea. 50 years on and now relocated to a lofty former fruit and vegetable warehouse in Covent Garden, Aram is celebrating this momentous milestone with a series of exhibitions and events. These events will pay attention to the history of the company, rejoice in the clients and friends who have contributed to its success, and importantly, look to the future as the company continues to grow.

The first event to be announced is the Aram 50th Anniversary Library, which will launch on 1 May 2014. Friends and colleagues of Aram Designs have been invited to nominate a book that has inspired them or had a particular impact on their life/career. The assembled library, including quotes on why each nominator selected their particular book, will be available for members of the public to come and browse at their leisure in the store until the end of 2014. At the end of year the entire collection will be donated to a college or school of design/architecture that would benefit from such a resource.

The library will be a superb start to what promises to be a wonderful year for Aram.

Press enquiries, image and interview requests:
Sarah McCauley +44 (0) 20 7557 7565


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Aram Store Winter Sale

The Aram Store Winter Sale will start online on Boxing Day, 26 December, with a 15% discount off all new orders – excluding products from Foscarini. The store in Drury Lane will be closed from 6pm on Monday 23 December until 10am on Thursday 2 January – online orders will be processed when we return after the festive season.

Starts online 26 Dec

In store from Saturday 4 January there will be up to 70% off selected ex-display and discontinued items. As always, these are sold as seen on a first-come-first-served basis and so are only available in store initially.

Dining Chair Offer

We also have an exclusive dining chair offer available in store: buy 6 chairs for the price of 5 or buy 8 chairs for the price of 6, or buy 10 chairs for the price of 7. This offer is not available online so please contact the store to place your order. All chairs must be the same model and finish and, as usual, this offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other sale offer or discount.

Here is a small selection of ex-display items – there will be many more in store from 4 January:

Quant Table

Quant Table 220cm x 90cm by COR – natural oak veneer top with white lacquered legs – was £2,288 - sale price: SOLD

Essay Table

Essay Table 225cm x 100cm by Fritz Hansen – natural walnut top and legs – was £5,829 sale price £2,914.50

Egg chair and footstool

Egg Chair and Footstool by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen – in grey blue ‘Magic’ fabric – was £5,285 sale price £2,642.50

Series 7 and Tre Pezzi

Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen – seat height 44cm – in dark red lacquer and chrome base – was £435 sale price: SOLD. Tre Pezzi Chair by Franco Albini for Cassina – in red ‘Charlot’ wool and matt black base – was £2,790 sale price £1,953


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Eames Lounge Chair Ottoman and Stool

This Winter, purchasing an Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman gives you the opportunity to choose any one of the four models of turned wood Eames Stools for free. Models A, B and C in solid Walnut are joined by a limited edition of the model D in solid black lacquered Ash. This offer is available until 31 January 2014.

Designed in 1956, the Lounge Chair & Ottoman set is perhaps one of the most famous designs by Charles and Ray Eames. Combining extraordinary comfort with superior materials and meticulous craftsmanship, it has become a true classic in the history of modern furniture. There are many options to choose from: a veneered shell in Cherrywood, Santos Palisander or white pigmented Walnut; aluminium base and linkage in a chromed, polished or black lacquered finish and a choice of premium leathers.

Lounge Chair Cherrywood

Lounge Chair Santos Palisander

Lounge Chair White Walnut

The design is also now available in a new black version. With black Ash shells, black leather, aluminium components with a pitch black finish and other carefully matched details, the Lounge Chair exudes an aura of distinguished elegance. All versions are available in classic or large dimensions.

The Eames Stools were created in 1960 in conjunction with a commission from Time Inc to outfit the interiors of three lobbies in the New York’s Rockerfeller Centre. In contrast to the first three models, model D is made of black lacquered Ash. With its stable base, it is not only suited for use as a stool, but also makes an ideal occasional table. Model D is only available for a limited time.

Eames Stools

Buy any version of the Lounge Chair & Ottoman and get any one of the four models of Eames Stool for free – until 31 January 2014.


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The 2014 Stendig Calendar

Originally commissioned in 1966 for the American furniture importer Charles Stendig – a contemporary and competitor of Knoll Associates – Massimo Vignelli’s oversized wall calendar has been in production ever since. It is the only calendar in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is beloved of architects and designers – and font fans – across the globe.

The Stendig Calendar is in the MOMA collection

Measuring 48 inches by 36 inches and printed on heavyweight matt paper, the format is in the European style with Monday as the start of the week. The typface is Helvetica with each month alternating between black on white or white on black. The sheets are perforated along the top edge, just under the binding which holds three eyelets for easy level hanging on the wall. After the month has passed, the sheet also makes excellent gift-wrapping paper once torn off the calendar.

Black and White Helvetica

Because it is made by a small family owned printing press in Nashville, Tennessee, each year the calendar is available in only very limited numbers – especially in the UK where trans-atlantic shipping is a significant and restrictive cost factor. But for the cognoscenti, buying their calendar each year is somewhat of a ritual and we love it when our customers return time and again for theirs. Stock has arrived in early October and we always sell out by January so it is worth placing your order in good time – especially bearing Christmas gifts in mind!

The 2014 Stendig Calendar


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CH445 Wing Chair

“A chair is only finished when someone sits in it”
- Hans Wegner

The ‘Wing’ Chair is an interesting example of Hans J Wegner’s skill and design aesthetics. The easy chair is fully upholstered and built upon a solid beech frame that rests on hand-finished steel legs. It’s a very sculptural piece of furniture to look at but its true beauty lies beneath the surface. What you don’t see is how the design of the backrest and the seat enables a variety of positions, always providing excellent support for the back, shoulders, neck and head. At the same time, the thin legs give the chair an ideal pitch because the front legs are slightly higher than the back legs.

It was designed in 1960 and originally produced in very limited numbers. Carl Hansen & Son re-launched the chair in 2006 based on Wegner’s original 1:1 drawings.

CH468 Oculus Chair

The ‘Oculus’ Chair was also designed by Wegner in 1960 but it was not put into production until Carl Hansen & Son launched it in 2010 based on Wegner’s original design. The curve of the back embraces the sitter and the sloping armrests provide great comfort for reading and relaxing.

This Autumn, Aram Store and Carl Hansen & Son are offering both of these lounge chairs at a very special price of £2,295 each. They are both available in a selection of six fabrics in warm, neutral tones. The offer runs until 31 December 2013.


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Ro Chair at Decorex 2013

Aram returns to Decorex with highlights from this year’s best furniture fairs – IMM Cologne and Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.  New products from international suppliers including Carl Hansen, Fritz Hansen and Walter Knoll will be seen with updated favourites in new finishes from ClassiCon and Knoll.  The rich palette of colours and textures selected for our stand this year includes precious green Verdi Alpi marble, copper, bronze, mouth-blown jewel coloured glass and lacquered metal.

Decorex runs from 22 to 25 September and this year is in Perks Field and the Orangery at Kensington Palace. Visit us on stand C15.

New products on show will include the Ro chair by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen; the Bell coffee table and Bell side table by Sebastian Herkner in a new copper and quartz grey glass finish; the Oota side table and Oota coffee table by EOOS for Walter Knoll:

Bell Tables and Oota Tables

Plus the Cuoio lounge chair, also by EOOS, and new Kyo chairs by British design duo Pearson Lloyd, for Walter Knoll:

Cuoio Lounge Chair

Kyo Chairs

We will also be showing the beautiful Inlay storage cabinet by Front and Ex Libris shelving system for Porro:

Inlay and Ex Libris


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Benjamin Hubert Antecedents at London Design Festival

For the London Design Festival this year, Aram Store presents Antecedents, an exhibition of new work and previously unseen prototypes and sketches by British designer Benjamin Hubert.

Known for their experimentation with construction and materials, Antecedents is the studio’s first solo show in the UK and will feature products manufactured by ClassiCon, De La Espada, Moroso and Menu. A new and experimental lightweight table will also be shown for the first time.

The exhibition offers a glimpse into the working and thinking of the process-led studio. Objects’ forms are the result of an examination of the manufacturing technique. Inspiration comes from the workshops and factories where they are made.

Working with a team of industrial designers Hubert has produced award-winning work in recent years including the A+W Audi Mentorpreis 2012, Design of the Year (British Design Awards 2010) and Homes & Gardens Young Designer of the Year 2010.

Sketches of the Membrane chair for ClassiCon

Sketches of the Membrane chair for ClassiCon


The Membrane chair for ClassiCon

The Membrane chair for ClassiCon


Benjamin demonstrates the lightness of the Membrane chair

Benjamin demonstrates the lightness of the Membrane chair


Net occasional tables for Moroso

Net occasional tables for Moroso

The Talma chair for Moroso

The Talma chair for Moroso

The Pelt chair for De La Espada

The Pelt chair for De La Espada

The exhibition runs at Aram Store, 110 Drury Lane, from 14 – 21 September 2013 (closed Sunday 15 September).




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Collections can be seen to stretch from quirky to the downright absurd but there can be no more extravagant and fascinating collection than the one that belongs to the Chairman of Vitra, Rolf Fehlbaum; this man collects architecture.

My colleague Mark and I were recently invited along on a tour of the Vitra Campus which provided a rich insight into this extraordinary plot of land located in the small town of Weil am Rhein, Germany.  The following article is a summary of the tour we were very fortunate to experience accompanied by a little background information about the campus.

Rolf Fehlbaum took over the role of Chairman at Vitra from his father, Willi, in 1977 and following a major fire in 1981 that destroyed large swathes of the company premises and production facilities, he approached the architect, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, and commissioned him to design and construct a layout for a new Vitra production site.  The first new production hall, designed by Grimshaw, was immediately put under construction in 1981 with a second following in 1986 and both of these buildings are still in use today.

Production Hall 2

Production Hall 2

Production Hall 1

Production Hall 1

Production Halls 1 & 2 were constructed using simple, prefabricated steel elements with façades of corrugated sheeting that did not betray the industrial use intended for these buildings.  Although, the coloured glass panes incorporated into the front side certainly break up the starkness of this large, silver edifice.

Fehlbaum initially wanted Grimshaw to solely develop a master plan for the entire new Vitra premises.  However, through his acquaintance with American architect Frank Gehry in the mid-eighties, he was inspired to pursue a more pluralistic approach to developing the new premises and set out on his mission to employ the services of a wide range of different architects, some of whom went on to become the ‘superstars’ of the architectural World that they are today.

There was obviously a certain irony in the choosing of a ‘deconstructivist’ such as Gehry to begin ‘reconstructing’ the Vitra plot and, in 1989, the first project he produced for Fehlbaum was the Vitra Design Museum along with another Factory Building.

Vitra Design Museum

Vitra Design Museum

Factory Building

Factory Building

It was the first architectural project that Gehry had realised outside of the U.S. and became a defining example of the stylistic concept he has pursued and developed throughout his career.   The unmistakable sculptural structures are finished in white plaster with zinc roofs and the Design Museum houses four large galleries and shows two major exhibitions annually.

As well as functioning as an assembly hall, Gehry’s Factory Building also contains a truly legendary piece of design history for visitors to experience – Charles Eames’ Office.

Eames-Office-1 Eames-Office-2

The Eames Office was located at 901 Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, California and operated here from 1943 right up until Ray Eames’ death in 1988.  The office moved out in early 1989, at which point the entire contents of Charles’ personal office space was painstakingly archived and shipped to the Vitra Campus to be restored and installed for display to the public.  It’s fascinating to see the actual desks and chairs that this design behemoth sat and created at along with the curious objects and artwork he chose to surround himself with for inspiration.

In hindsight of the fire in ’81, a precautionary measure was taken in deciding to have their own fire station built on the campus.  So, in 1990, a little known, London based Iraqi architect by the name of Zaha Hadid was assigned to design this new facility.

Fire-Station-exterior Fire-Station-Interior

The Vitra Fire Station (opened in 1993) was the first full-scale project that Hadid ever had built and, along with Gehry’s building for the Vitra Design Museum, came to be regarded as a key work of Deconstructivism.  As to be expected, it certainly looks like no other fire station you will ever see and did originally house a garage for fire engines behind a sliding wall of steel.  Although, after a few years, the responsibility of fire-fighting was handed back to the local, public fire brigade and this space is now just used to hold events and exhibitions.  Long, narrow, linear and constructed of raw, reinforced concrete formed into layers and flanks of tilting walls (described as looking like a “frozen explosion” by one critic) which, inside, provide a strangely disorientating experience.  As was explained to us by our highly knowledgeable and entertaining tour guide; Vitra, with their braveness and foresight, gave Hadid her first chance to physically realise her bold, ground-breaking and truly original concepts.

The pioneering, experimental architect, Richard Buckminster Fuller, introduced his idea for the Geodesic Dome (in cardboard form) at the 1954 Milan Triennale and gained worldwide attention by walking away with the highest award, the Gran Premio.  No collection of architecture can be taken seriously without a Geodesic Dome so of course, Rolf Fehlbaum has one on campus.


“Bucky” Fuller, as he came to be called, first intended for his ground-breaking design to become a new, cost-effective form of social housing to address the post-war housing crisis in the US.  But, sadly, owing to financing issues for tooling costs and in-house differences between Fuller and his stockholders, the project never really took off.   However, the U.S. Military had picked up on the attention that Fuller was gaining with his design and began to explore the possibilities of using the domes as housing and medical stations for soldiers overseas owing to the speed and ease with which they could be shipped and erected.  They became his biggest client.

This particular dome was manufactured in 1975 and first used in Detroit, USA.  In 2000, the dome was transferred and erected on the Vitra Campus where it now serves as a venue for events and private gatherings.  Fewer tourniquets, more canapés, if you will.

Just a little further along Ray-Eames-Strasse – a street named in her honour to celebrate her centennial in December 2012 – we were confronted with possibly the most eccentric addition to the collection: a petrol station designed by Jean Prouvé.


Research shows that Prouvé worked on 20 different petrol station designs projects between 1951 and 1954 for virtually all of the 20 major oil companies represented across France at the time.  Only a handful of these prototypes were actually executed; the most successful being the project developed in 1951, with the assistance of his brother, Henri, for the company Mobiloil Socony-Vacuum.  Six of these petrol stations were built but only three are extant today, one of which Fehlbaum acquired from the Haute-Loire region in France and erected on campus in 2003.  It certainly bears all the hallmarks of a Prouvé design with its pre-fabricated, angular steel elements and structures clearly distinguished with red, white and green painted surfaces.

Our tour then finished back where we were initially greeted – at the VitraHaus.


Constructed in 2010 and designed by the renowned architect practice, Herzog de Meuron, the VitraHaus was created for the campus to allow Vitra to showcase a wide range of their ever-expanding ‘Home Collection’ of products under one roof.  The basic shell is formed of 12 elongated, gabled houses which are stacked at intersecting angles, providing a five storey structure.

Herzog de Meuron described their design as being a “direct, architectural rendition of the ‘ur-type’ of house, as found in the immediate vicinity of Vitra and, indeed, all over the world. The products that will be on display are designed primarily for the private home and, as such, should not be presented in the neutral atmosphere of the conventional hall or museum but rather in an environment suited to their character and use.”

The upper levels contain very cleverly curated showroom spaces, each with their own theme, where visitors can browse the collection for inspiration.  On the lower levels, you will find the Vitra Design Museum Shop, VitraHaus Café and the Lounge Chair Atelier.

Lounge-Chair-Atelier Lounge-Chair-Technician

Should you choose to purchase an Eames Lounge Chair whilst on your visit to the VitraHaus, you can select a wood veneer shell of your choice and then watch your new chair being assembled right there in the Atelier by a Vitra technician.

The Vitra Campus is a mecca for anyone with a keen interest in architecture or furniture design and if you ever find yourself in Basel with a few hours to spare, it is located within just a short cab ride from the city centre.

I feel very privileged to have been afforded this experience…  thanks, Vitra! For further information on current exhibitions and guided tours at the campus, click here.


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Shiro Kuramata by Kazumi Kurigami

Shiro Kuramata by Kazumi Kurigami, 1979 – image courtesy of Phaidon

To coincide with the launch of ‘Shiro Kuramata’, a new two-volume monograph by Deyan Sudjic published by Phaidon, The Aram Gallery is showing a collection of original Shiro Kuramata designs made in Japan and first exhibited in 1981 when Zeev Aram introduced Kuramata’s designs to Europe. The collection is on show at The Aram Gallery from 27 June to 10 July 2013.

This particular collection may never be seen in public again.

Furniture in Irregular Forms, Side 1 and 2, 1970 Takayuki Ogawa

Furniture in Irregular Forms, Side 1 and 2, 1970, photography by Takayuki Ogawa – image courtesy of Phaidon

Shiro Kuramata (1934-1991) studied architecture at Tokyo Polytechnic in Tokyo until 1953. In 1965 he founded his own design practice. As an interior designer, Kuramata designed more than three hundred bars and restaurants and created many furniture designs, such as the ‘Glass Chair’ (1976) and his steel mesh chair ‘How High the Moon’ (1986). Kuramata became famous in the 1970s for the S-shaped, curvilinear ‘Drawer in an Irregular Form’, a piece of storage furniture in black stained ash with the drawer fronts lacquered white. He was inspired by Ettore Sottsass’s playful spirit and love of bright color and joined Sottsass’ collective, the design group ‘Memphis’, based in Milan, at its founding in 1981. In 1988 Kuramata moved to Paris, where he set up a design practice in the rue Royal.

How High the Moon 1986 Mitsumasa Fujitsuka

How High the Moon, 1986, photography by Mitsumasa Fujitsuka – image courtesy of Phaidon

Deyan Sudjic OBE is Director of the Design Museum in London. Before taking on this role, he was the design and architecture critic for The Observer, the Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University and co-chair of the Urban Age Advisory Board. In 1983 he co-founded Blueprint, a monthly architecture magazine, and went on to be the magazine’s editor and then its editorial director. From 2000 to 2004, he was also the editor of Domus. Alongside these roles, he was the director of The Glasgow UK City of Architecture and Design program in 1999 and the director of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2002.

Shiro Kuramata Monograph by Deyan Sudjic

Shiro Kuramata by Deyan Sudjic, £100.00 / €125.00, Phaidon 2013,

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