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Lego Of Furniture: Modular Furniture Is Meant To Adapt To Every Interior Design


It’s like the Lego of furniture, say the owners of USM Furniture. Colorful blocks of modular furniture popped out in the clean white space of Silverlens Galleries in Pasong Tamo, the best way to bring out the simplicity and balance of the modular tables and shelves that would otherwise blend seamlessly in any interior setting. The gallery setting celebrates the iconic roots and classic design of the Swiss brand, with its collections displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, the Louvre, and the Cooper-Hewett National Design Museum.



The USM Haller System, the brand’s signature furniture, is composed of three main elements: the chrome ball, connecting tubes, and panels that come in a range of colors. The furniture embodies the company’s philosophy that form follows function. A modular freestanding desk and storage solution for office or home, the Haller system is defined by its minimalist design and very precise proportions. The system can be built in any form, taken apart and reconfigured. It can also be customized per application by adding doors, drawers, a variety of internal organizer accessories, and modern technology equipment, including swing arms for telephones, monitors and computers, paper and wire management organizers.



“Every piece is configurable,” says USM Philippines co-owner Lorraine Ong. “Say, you buy a nightstand and then after some time, you don’t want a nightstand anymore but a TV cabinet. You just add on to it—change some panels and change the color, and it becomes a whole new piece. The main designer is Fritz Haller whose designs are just so smart and classic.”



It took owners Lorraine Ong and Kay Chua a year to understand the concept of USM furniture, which at first glance, might be too simple and different to the naked eye. They went to the USM showrooms around Asia—from Japan to Thailand—to understand the concept behind the brand, before finally deciding to bring it here in the Philippines. “We had to understand what made it so special,” says Lorraine.



Founded by Ulrich Schaerer in 1885 in Switzerland, USM began as a producer of iron works and window fittings. In the late 1940s, USM responded to the post-war economy by making product lines with metal and sheet metal work. In 1961, the founder’s grandson Paul Schaerer took the company in a dramatic direction by transforming the large manual metal production plant into a modern industrial enterprise. Paul commissioned Fritz, a Swiss architect, to design the building with a modular architecture that eventually inspired Paul and Fritz to pioneer their modular furniture as the USM Haller Systems. Today, USM has over 400 employees with an international network of flagship showrooms in Bern, Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, London, Munich, New York, Paris, Stuttgart, and Tokyo.



Buying USM furniture requires a whole new different perspective compared to buying ordinary furniture where you have to consider the measurements and see what fits the house and its interiors. With USM, the dimensions are variable and interchangeable, and are meant to adapt to every interior design. “It’s like the god of modular furniture,” Lorraine shares.



USM showroom is located at the ground floor of Fumaco Building, 420 Ortigas Ave., San Juan. It is also available at the Mejore Showroom at 135 Dela Rosa St. corner Legaspi St., Makati.


Photographs by Daniel Soriano