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Who's in Store?

To commemorate the third anniversary of our Tokyo store, WHY paid a visit to see who’s shopping for what.

Walk into Herman Miller’s Tokyo store, and you’ll be greeted with a friendly chorus of “irasshaimase!” from the staff. The traditional salutation (technically, いらっしゃいませ, or “welcome to the store”) has been sounded over a hundred thousand times since we opened our doors three years ago—and the tally rose during WHY’s visit on a recent Saturday afternoon.

Located in the central Marunouchi district, between bustling Tokyo Station and the serene Imperial Palace grounds, the store offers a wide range of furniture for home and office, accessories, objects, lighting, and even a curated selection of design books. While the Aeron chair remains a top seller (particularly in a special edition with leather armpads that is only available in the shop), and Eames is de rigueur, at any given moment the staff can be found showing a customer color options for Nelson X-leg Tables or demonstrating the health-positive benefits of an Envelop Desk.  More than15,000 hours of these conversations with customers have been logged over the course of the store’s short history—and have undoubtedly contributed to its success.

We wanted to get a better sense for just who shops at Herman Miller, and why they were coming to the store. With the translating assistance of Herman Miller Japan’s Yoko Sasaki, we interviewed the following selection of shoppers.

Ayami & Kouji Nishiyama

Ayami & Kouji Nishiyama

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

Ayumi: Yes. This is our first time coming here.

Why did you come in today?

Ayumi: We recently got married and will be moving into a new home, so we are interested in finding some new furniture.

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

Kouji: Herman Miller is very famous here!

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

Ayumi: I love the George Nelson Ball Clock. It's so cute!

Kouji: I have to say the Eames Plywood Chair. I got a couple a few years ago.

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

Ayumi: Actually, we're really interested in this Eames Contract Table. It's the perfect size for our dining room—and it goes with our chairs.

Rumi Nose

Rumi Nose

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

Actually, this is my second time. I came in last week to look for a chair for my husband's new office. He won’t be moving until the new year, but because of the delivery time, we decided to come back now.

Why did you come in today?

So that my husband could test out some chairs. He's picking between a Sayl Chair or Eames Aluminum Group Chair, but I've already decided the color will be red!

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

A friend of my husband’s told him that he should look at Herman Miller chairs.

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

Probably Philippe Starck. I like using the cutlery he designed—even when I'm flying economy class on Air France!

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

My choice would definitely be the Sayl Chair.

Tomoko & Keizou Miyashita

[My husband] is picking between a Sayl Chair or Eames Aluminum Group Chair, but I've already decided the color will be red!

Rumi Nose

Tomoko & Keizou Miyashita

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

Tomoko: Yes, it is.

Why did you come in today?

Tomoko: We came to walk around the Imperial Palace and enjoy the fall colors of the Ginkgo trees. We remembered the previous tenant of this space, and noticed it had changed, so we decided to come inside.

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

Tomoko: I have loved the Eames Shell Chair for a long time, so I knew Herman Miller through that.

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

Tomoko: I actually prefer Scandinavian design, and my favorite is the Series 7 chair by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen, but I always want to try something new.

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

Tomoko: It's so difficult to choose just one thing! But I would probably take this Eames Wire Chair. As I mentioned, I've known the plastic shell chair for a long time, but this is the first time I've seen it in wire. It's so comfortable to me.

Hidetaka Shimada

...I've known the plastic shell chair for a long time, but this is the first time I've seen it in wire. It's so comfortable to me.

Tomoko Miyashita

Hidetaka Shimada

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

This is the second time. I came here previously in August.

Why did you come in today?

Last time, I just wanted to check things out. Today, I'm seriously considering purchasing something. I was going to buy an Eames Plastic Shell Chair, but now I've heard that they will be available in fiberglass, so maybe I'll wait.

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

I read about Herman Miller in a magazine some years ago. It was probably in Casa Brutus.

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

I'm not really so familiar with the design world, but I loved the plastic shell chair. I did some research and eventually discovered that it was designed by Charles and Ray Eames.

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

I would like either the George Nelson X-Leg Table or the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. In the end, I would probably pick the Lounge Chair—it's just so comfortable.

Shimpei, Reimi, & Kokoru Kikuchi

I was going to buy an Eames Plastic Shell Chair, but now I've heard that they will be available in fiberglass, so maybe I'll wait.

Hidetaka Shimada

Shimpei, Reimi, & Kokoru Kikuchi

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

Shimpei: Yes.

Why did you come in today?

Reimi: We're looking for some furniture for the house that we're building. We did some research online and found the store. We came by car from the Tochigi prefecture, which is about two hours away.

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

Shimpei: I became interested in Eames, and learned about Herman Miller through magazines and the internet.

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

Reimi: The George Nelson Platform Bench.

Shimpei: Jean Prouvé is probably my favorite. In particular, I like the EM table and Standard chair.

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

Shimpei: I would like one of those Eames EDU Desks. I like the functional, industrial aesthetic—and the use of multiple colors.

Reimi: We could also take an Eames Elephant for our baby girl!

Misuzu & Morie Kato

I would like one of those Eames EDU Desks. I like the functional, industrial aesthetic—and the use of multiple colors.

Shimpei Kikuchi

Misuzu & Morie Kato

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

Morie: Yes.

Why did you come in today?

Misuzu: We have a Herman Miller chair—a plastic shell chair in java—that we got when we were living in Bridgewater, New Jersey. So when we just happened to pass by, we decided to come in.

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

Morie: About ten years ago there was a feature in Casa Brutus on good design with things like various Scandinavian designs, Sori Yanagi, and Eames. I think that was where I first saw the name Herman Miller.

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

Misuzu: The GE-290 chair and sofa by Hans Wegner. I also have a chair by Børge Mogensen that I adore.

Morie: I am a fan of Sori Yanagi. We have some of his flatware.

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

Morie: I would pick an Eames Walnut Stool.

Misuzu: I really like the new Eames Wood Shell Chair—in walnut.

Masahiro Katsura

Masahiro Katsura

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

I came here for the first time two years ago, and this is my first time back since then.

Why did you come in today?

I came to Tokyo on the shinkansen from Sendai, which is about 200 kilometers north of here. I had some appointments in town, but I skipped them to come and look for a new work chair. I wanted to learn more about the benefits and good points to each design. It's for my office, so when I get the new chair, I'll secretly swap it with the chair that's there.

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

Maybe three years ago my wife told me about it.

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

I'm not so familiar with designers, but I do have two Eames Shell Chairs.

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

I'm probably going to buy an Aeron Chair today, anyway, so I would pick that.

Akiko Namura & Mari

I had some appointments in town, but I skipped them to come and look for a new work chair. I wanted to learn more about the benefits and good points to each design. It's for my office, so when I get the new chair, I'll secretly swap it with the chair that's there.

Masahiro Katsura

Akiko Namura & Mari

Is this your first time to the Herman Miller store?

Mari: Well, I've been here many times.

Akiko: This is the first time for me.

Why did you come in today?

Mari: We were passing by this area for some other appointments.

Akiko: … and I just followed my friend.

How did you first hear about Herman Miller?

Mari: I was doing some research on chairs in 2009, and came across Herman Miller. It was too expensive for me then, but it was my dream to one day get some Eames Chairs. Now I can afford the chairs, but it will still be a few years before I have a big enough apartment to be able to enjoy them. So it’s still just a dream.

Akiko: I didn't know it before today.

Do you have a favorite design or designer?

Akiko: Hmm… maybe Frank Lloyd Wright. Near Nagoya—where I'm from—there's an architectural museum, Meiji Mura, where they have reconstructed the main lobby and entrance to the original Imperial Hotel.

Mari: Well it's hard to decide. I like the Akari lights by Isamu Noguchi, Sori Yanagi's Elephant stool, and the Series 7 chair by Arne Jacobsen.

If you could take anything home from the store today, what would it be?

Mari: Probably an Aeron Chair for when I work at the computer.

Akiko: I love that small Eames Sofa. It caught my eye the instant I came into the shop!

Minoru Kato, Kazuki Akizawa, Tasuku Endo, Narumi Moriya, and Takako Nishimura Minoru Kato, Kazuki Akizawa, Tasuku Endo, Narumi Moriya, and Takako Nishimura

I love that small Eames Sofa. It caught my eye the instant I came into the shop!

Akiko Namura

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