The Hilda Stories – 21 years in a New York design studio

For 21 years, Hilda Longinotti was the in-house ‘jack of all trades’ at the design studio of furniture manufacturer Herman Miller in New York City. Her amusing anecdotes are now accompanied by a series of charming animated videos, rather ‘Mad Men’ in style…

It all began with a job advertisement in the New York Times: ‘Receptionist wanted for world-famous architect’. Hilda Longinotti was a young girl who didn’t even know what an architect was but, she says, the job description sounded ‘very chichi’, so she turned up for an interview. The ‘famous architect’ was George Nelson, the American industrial designer of the post-War period, who became the Director of Design at the traditional furniture manufacturer Herman Miller. Hilda Longinotti got the job – and for the next 21 years acted as receptionist, secretary and ‘aide-de-camp’, attempting to tame the daily chaos of the Nelson Office, a real-life Joan Holloway from ‘Mad Men’. In the wonderfully nostalgic and beautifully illustrated mini-documentary series, titled ‘The Hilda Stories’, Hilda Longinotti grants us a very entertaining behind-the-scenes insight into perhaps the most influential furniture design atelier in America. 

The Receptionist

Bon Voyage, George

The Case of the Missing Warhols

The Woman on the Marshmallow Sofa


For an extended interview with Hilda Longinotti, see Herman Miller's house magazine ‘Why’.