Gabriel Tan’s modular furniture for Herman Miller is designed for interaction

Gabriel Tan’s debut collection for Herman Miller features the ‘Luva’ sofa and ‘Cyclade’ coffee tables

Herman Miller modular furniture by Gabriel Tan
(Image credit: Courtesy Herman Miller)

The elegant, yet liveable aesthetic of the Singapore-born designer Gabriel Tan takes a new shape with a duet of furniture designs, created in partnership with Herman Miller. Since moving from Singapore to Portugal in 2020, Tan has increasingly sought new ways to fuse traditional craft with technology, while exploring multiple disciplines, which has given rise to pieces that not only sit at cultural intersections, but bring together comfort and function as well.

Gabriel Tan for Herman Miller: ‘Luva’ sofa and ‘Cyclade’ tables

Gabriel Tan collection for Herman Miller sofas and side tables

(Image credit: Courtesy Herman Miller)

For Herman Miller, Tan has created the ‘Luva’ modular sofa, named after the Portuguese word for ‘glove’, and the ‘Cyclade’ coffee tables, a series of three tables that pay homage to the supercontinent of Pangea, with island-like forms that come together or flow apart seamlessly. ‘When a design is successful, different people can read it in different ways,’ Tan says. ‘Depending on where you’re from, you can interpret and relate to these designs in a totally different way from somebody else across the world.’

Gabriel Tan collection for Herman Miller, armchair and ottoman

(Image credit: Courtesy Herman Miller)

‘“Luva” was born out of my pursuit to create the most comfortable modular sofa imaginable,’ Tan asserts, sharing that the design was created during the first phase of the global pandemic lockdown, which occurred soon after he and his family moved to Porto. Emulating the soft grip and padded feel of boxing gloves, the distinct, yet visually soft form also intentionally echoes the shape of rolled Japanese futons. With the ability to be used open, which supports a relaxing posture, or tucked to make it suitable for work or conversation, the modular design is available as an armchair, sectional, chaise, sofa and ottoman, and can be easily reconfigured to fit multiple settings.

‘Our goal was to ensure that comfort remained consistent in both the open and closed positions – a challenge that required dedicated collaboration between my team and Herman Miller's product development and engineering experts,’ Tan says. ‘After seven rounds of prototyping, we were finally able to achieve this balance.’ 

Herman Miller modular furniture by Gabriel Tan, side tables

(Image credit: Courtesy Herman Miller)

The notion of balance carries through to the ‘Cyclade’ coffee tables, which despite their individual forms, work as well together intertwined as they do on their own. ‘The “Cyclade” coffee tables explore how negative spaces, notches, and cut-outs can create unique interactions between our furniture, plants, and objects. The sculptures of Isamu Noguchi and Balthasar Lobo also influenced this design,’ Tan explains, of the tables, which each exhibit different heights and functional variations. 

At its lowest, the table is accompanied by a glass bowl that can be used to hold greenery, display objects or for entertaining. In the mid-level and higher heights, the tables can either nestle around each other or around a standing lamp, bringing an element of play and poetry to whatever configuration is created. 

Herman Miller modular furniture by Gabriel Tan sofa

(Image credit: Courtesy Herman Miller)

Tan concludes, ‘Designing for Herman Miller has always been an ambition of mine, as I hold deep admiration and respect for George Nelson and consider him a role model. As someone born and educated in Singapore, a young country without a long history of design, I can say that this is a dream come true. While I am genuinely elated to see three years of work come to fruition, I remain committed to pushing my boundaries and striving for more excellence, to ensure that this collaboration with Herman Miller is just the beginning.’

Watch: Gabriel Tan on his Herman Miller collections

‘Luva’ and ‘Cyclade’ will be available for purchase in stores and online in North America. Retail pricing for the ‘Luva’ assortment ranges from the Single Chair (armless) $2,695 to the Corner Sectional at $10,365. The ‘Cyclade’ tables’ start from $795.

Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.