In 1976 Herman Miller launched the Modular Sofa Group, by British furniture designer Ray Wilkes.
Wilkes was a proponent of a production method Herman Miller started using in 1974, for Don Chadwick’s Modular Seating line: Injecting foam into a mold to produce whatever shape the designer desired, rather than simply upholstering a foam rectangle (as with a typical sofa) or cut-out shape (as with a bar stool).
“Minimalism isn’t just straight lines–the most important thing is the form, and the simplicity of making it,” said Wilkes. The shape he chose was similar to a Chiclet, leading the sofa to gain that name colloquially, if not on the marketing materials.
Since its discontinuation in 1986, the Chiclet has regained popularity and is often listed for $1,000 to $3,000 on eBay and other auction sites.
Now Herman Miller is re-releasing the line, slightly rebranded as the Wilkes Modular Sofa.
The “modular” part of the name doesn’t mean the user can reconfigure it; it refers to the units being assembled from modules at the factory. Buyers can choose between a single-seat unit ($1,695 to $2,295 depending on fabric options), a two-seat unit ($2,595 to $2,895) or a three-seater ($3,195 to $3,495).
By the bye, I believe injection-molded foam was the same production method used by Bruce Hannah for Knoll in the early ’70s–there’s a fascinating story about that, and the accidental invention of an iconic toy, here.