How MillerKnoll was born and who they are, as told by its president

Two historical companies combine heritage and expertise, accelerating the transformation of homes and offices. Kartik Shethia, President International Contract at MillerKnoll tells us about it.

When two companies with great historical heritage join forces, what comes out of it are opportunities for sharing and synergies between people, expertise, and values. That’s the case with Herman Miller and Knoll, which announced in 2021 a new combined company, MillerKnoll deals with both commercial and residential segments and is recognised in over 100 countries as one of the most important brands of the design industry. MillerKnoll has a global network of offices, showrooms, and a multi-channel online and e-commerce presence.

There is an element that connects the major players of the office furniture market, and it is dedication to design. “It’s an aspect that, in the case of MillerKnoll, ties the two businesses together, in particular heritage and history, culture and the companies’ values,” explains Kartik Shethia, President International Contract at MillerKnoll. “A proof of this is the historical friendship that brought Florence Knoll and Charles Eames together: both companies showed sincere commitment towards design ever since their establishment.”

MillerKnoll stems from shared goals and a shared vision of the two brands. “Another common ground relates to sustainability and durability of the products. And we must also take into consideration that this is a sector that was facing economic stagnation,” continues Shethia. “This led us to seize the opportunity to join two great players in the history of design: two years later, we managed to perfect the processes and eliminate possible overlapping. We don’t deny that at first the merger was seen with skepticism, after all it was the most important operation ever in the design industry: today, we can say that the outcome is very positive, and we are already benefitting from the synergy between the two companies.”

Herman Miller and Knoll are, of course part of MillerKnoll, but there are also companies such as Muuto, HAY, NaughtOne, Maharam, Colebrook Bosson Saunders, DatesWeiser, Design Within Reach, Edelman Leather, Geiger, Holly Hunt, spinneybeck | filzfelt and Maars Living Walls. The portfolio of the company is based on brands that can complement each other and respond to the different needs of the markets. “We are interested in companies that are aligned with our philosophy and our business principles. For example, Carpet is a potentially complementary sector, but it does not match our core business. While brands like HAY and Muuto fit the profile we are trying to create, and each one of them has their reference market. Diversifying our offer is crucial − from high-end products like Herman Miller to accessible solutions like HAY.”

In the long term, MillerKnoll aims at creating synergies between the brands in its collective and working together on the main challenges facing businesses today. Shethia explains: " Compared to the past, today the design world is much more conscious about environmental impact issues; we went from a sustainable supply chain to a sustainable production,” continues Shethia. “In terms of our vision, an important thing to keep in mind is that what are considered sustainable solutions today will not necessarily be considered sustainable tomorrow. The real challenge is to continue on this path of growth and evolution.”

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