Stockholm-based design brand Hem has steadily set the standard for direct-to-consumer, design-forward furniture and decor items since launching in 2015, accruing a long list of collaborators and loyal buyers (the brand surpassed the $15 million profit mark in 2019) along the way. And while Stockholm remains their design and administrative hub, openings in Los Angeles and now New York serve as real-life extensions of their mission to offer stylish items at an affordable price—with inventory ready to be shipped the moment you order it.
Customers can’t pick out a piece and walk away with it from Hem’s new SoHo space. Purposefully situated above street-level, the space is appointment only or, in the case of private events or unveilings, invite only. Rather, the Hem team can meet with a collaborator-to-be or realize the potential of a piece. The space’s designation as a “studio” ultimately means its function is open-ended. Rather than devoting the square footage exclusively to ideation or actualization, Hem hopes the location’s purpose remains fluid.
“This will be an event space and a creative space,” Hem’s CEO and founder, Petrus Palmér, says. “Hopefully it will be an active space, too, where we can activate with talks or with any type of workshop. New York has always been our main market in the US. It’s so strong in terms of architecture and design. We’ve been looking for quite some time before we found this.”
Hem’s LA space serves primarily as a showroom, but the NYC location will be a showroom, workspace, event venue, dining room, exhibition space, and incubator. Most of all, it bolsters the brand’s physical presence and offers customers the opportunity to see and touch a product before purchase.
“You need that kind of physical interaction to get that feeling of ‘Oh, it’s real. It’s exactly what I thought it would be,'” Palmér tells CH. “It’s exciting. We have quite a lot of business here already, and people are recurring customers—they are already trusting us—but maybe they have not seen the full collection or spoken to us in person. In general, as a design brand, trust is everything. You need to be able to put your money where your mouth is in terms of quality, in terms of customer service. If you only have a website, it’s hard to do that.”
Palmér’s mission of presenting Hem as a platform for inspiration and collaborative, function-forward design, manifests as an artful combination of personal abode and retail space. An installation by Brooklyn-based designers Chen & Kai, titled “The Phalanx,” breaks the ice. Max Lamb‘s Max Table sits at both a gathering place and an entry point.
“One of the best parts about not being confined as a brand to only selling the products is being able to commission—in this case Chen Chen and Kai Williams—to do something that is not necessarily a product that we will sell, but just creative exploration. And that is, in the end, the ultimate goal of Hem: to be a platform for creative exploration. For that, you need space, a physical platform,” Palmér adds.
As designs launch in the online store, it’s likely they will appear in this brick-and-mortar space, affording interested customers the opportunity to see pieces in person. But, as mentioned, the purpose of the location isn’t to be purely transactional. It’s also meant to service the city’s creative community through its calendar of experiential offerings.
Though organizational changes may be made to accommodate particular events, Palmér explains, the collection on show now likely won’t be swapped out, but rather added to. “Most of our pieces are here to stay,” he says. “From the beginning, we haven’t cancelled any products. We started in 2015, and since then we just gradually built up the collection, and everything from 2015 is basically still in the collection. Anytime we develop a new product, it’s meant to last five years minimum—hopefully 10 to 15.”
The 460 Broome Street space officially opens today, 12 March, with open house hours until 6 pm, and on the 13th from 9AM to 6PM. Starting on 16 March, the space will be open by appointment only, Monday-Friday from 9AM to 5PM. Appointments can be made via email.
Images courtesy of Hem