USM was founded in 1885 as a metallurgical and forging company by Ulrich Schaerer. The factory and management were and still are in Munsingen, Switzerland. In the early decades of the twentieth century, USM began to specialize in window accessories, ornamental hinges and precisely worked steel sheets. In the 1960s, the transformation into a furniture factory worldwide took place; Paul Schaerer joined the company in 1961, starting three generations of USM management of the Schaerer family. After studying engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, he is determined to renew the company – starting from the same factory and USM headquarters; He then commissioned the architect Fritz Haller to design a new office and factory pavilion using a modular construction system in flexible steel, easily adaptable to various production processes and changes in the sector.
In 1963, Haller and Schaerer created furniture that is in tune with the modularity and versatility of the new factories. Furniture, like buildings, are not focused on individual pieces, but on a system of steel modules that can be adapted and reconfigured to meet the different needs of the factory and the company’s offices. The foundation of the system is an elegant and ingenious ball joint, for which they require a patent in 1965.
Although initially designed for exclusive use in USM offices, the furniture system quickly draws attention thanks to its versatility, durability and style; consequently the production and commercial sale of the USM Haller system began in 1969 with an order of 600 workstations from the Rothschild Bank in Paris, France.
During the last decades of the twentieth century, USM conquered the world, opening branches in Germany, France and the United States and also the first exclusive exhibition space in Hamburg, Germany in 1998. In the following year, USM launched USM Kitos, a series of customizable and height adjustable desks and tables.
Shortly thereafter, the fourth generation of the family joined the company, represented by the current CEO Alexander Schaerer. The status of USM Haller as an icon of modern design is confirmed in 2001 with the exhibition in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. USM continues to develop its leadership in protecting the environment and in 2007, the company received Greenguard accreditation, which certifies that its products have low emissions of chemicals and particles and therefore help to reduce indoor air pollution; USM furniture is the first European product to meet the strict Greenguard criteria.
In 2015, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the USM Haller modular furniture system was celebrated, also through constant and continuous updating in harmony with new housing and working needs.