Welcome back to Show & Tell. For this installment, we spoke with Alyse Archer-Coité, director of culture and programming at A/D/O, a creative space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, dedicated to expanding the reach of design, about her USM Haller storage unit. Here’s what Alyse had to say.
I have been at A/D/O for just over two years. I joined the project early and was scouted while I was living in Berlin, where I worked for an online magazine called Freunden von Freunden. Its focus is spotlighting creative people in their personal or work spaces talking about their design sensibilities and their special pieces. I learned a lot about consumer-facing products there, including USM and other brands.
In Germany, USM is king. I did a project with Yabu Pushelberg a couple years ago, and they have a full USM wall of all their textile samples. It seemed very utilitarian and office-focused for me at the time. But then I saw USM mixed in with African antiquity and vintage books and Yves Saint Laurent dresses from somebody’s grandmother’s closet at my friends’ pop-up shop. Everything was positioned in such a way that made me see USM for the first time and that I might be interested in having it in my own home.
My house is very sparse, maybe even empty. I have a lot of linen sheets and striped rugs that are vintage kilim, and my floors are painted black, all the walls are gray, and there’s no window trimming. My friends jokingly call it a mausoleum. There’s also no red wine allowed in the house. It’s not a fun place to hang out for people.
My USM piece is three vertical drawers side by side for a total of six compartments in black with standard silver piping. It fits into all of my ideals for the clean, put-on-your-hazmat-suit-before-you-eat-anything-in-the-house vibe, but it’s also fun and flirty. It’s cool. It’s black and silver and quite straightforward. I love the way the compartments have doors that open down. I like that you’re able to see all the mechanics of it, which I think is really romantic.
It’s in my bedroom, so it’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing at night. It’s right at the foot of my bed. I use it for everything. I have one compartment that is full of bed linens and towels, one that’s full of lingerie, and I have another that has all my socks and workout clothes in it. It’s all full of soft stuff even though it looks like a rock-hard thing in the corner.
USM Haller units are so surprising. They’re kind of invisible in a way, which is why they work well for offices, but the hardware is bold. The handles are these big discs, and then the way they open is always a surprise. I always love sending people to get me something out of one and watching them go ooh when they open it. It’s really straightforward and utilitarian, but with a little bit of playfulness.
I love anything that’s sort of a kit-of-parts; you can keep building on it as you need it. I like those kinds of design elements because you can grow with them. In my dreams, I would add another three compartments to it, but that’s definitely for another time in my life. Ideally, if I had an office in my apartment, I would build a desk around one. And if I had a much larger bedroom, I would use one as a side table.
As told to Lauren Ro. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.