Swiss company USM Modular Furniture is best known for a single product, the USM Haller, a system of modular shelving first manufactured in 1965 for its new offices. Since then, it has taken off as a design cult classic, no doubt owing to its near-infinite capacity to be configured and customized for any space.
USM was founded in 1885 by Ulrich Schärer in Münsingen, Switzerland as a metal-working, family-run business, which expanded over the years to manufacture window fittings, ornamental hinges, and sheet steel. When Paul Schärer, Jr. (Ulrich’s grandson) took the reigns in 1961, he envisioned a modern, industrialized practice and hired architect Fritz Haller to design a modular glass-and-steel "flexible factory" that would be able to handle various manufacturing processes.
When the factory opened in 1965, USM needed furniture and turned again to Haller, who suggested creating a furniture system rather than individual pieces based on his modular architecture. The result was a system that incorporated chrome-plated steel tubes joined by patented ball connectors and metal panels of powder-coated sheet steel.
Fifty years later, the USM Haller system and its timeless, clean and modern lines, myriad configuration (and color) possibilities, and solid, 100% Swiss construction remain in demand. And now, to make it even easier to customize a unit—whether it’s a credenza, bookshelf, cabinet, file system, or any type of storage or display furniture—USM has launched the Configurator, an online tool adapted from its own internal software that allows customers to experiment with their own designs. (Watch the tutorial video below.) For those who prefer ready-made options, USM also offers a Quick Ship store that features some of its top-selling designs.
Take a look below at how USM Haller products, which can be reconfigured at any time, are being used in real homes around the world.