Omni vs CSS?
Basically, Omni is probably a rarer system
but most of the CSS pieces fetch more money.
Anyone ever see the ISS shelving? Check out the link below...very similar to CSS
To me at least. The Omni system is the original. The Nelson office designed it first and it was an extension of his "storage wall" system, only de-mountable and portable. Nelson first pitched the idea to Herman Miller. They passed on the idea so Aluminum Extrusions in Michigan, who originally just wanted to supply the aluminum components, decided to bring the Omni to market. Once Herman Miller saw how well received it was, they reminded Nelson that as he was under contract to them, they were entitled to the design. As a compromise, he tweaked the design and the CSS was born. The history of the Omni and CSS are chronicled in the Abercrombie book "George Nelson The Design of Modern Design".
The two systems have a lot in common and some parts are actually interchangeable, but there are differences as well. The original pole design (the cross-section of which became the Omni logo) is the most versatile in my opinion. There are slots on all four sides which allow the system to make 90 degree turns and fit in corners. Something the CSS can't do. To further complicate matters, there are at least 3 different generations of Omni with each of the pole designs being different. The last generation has poles that are nearly identical to CSS. Some Omni was even configured to create free-standing shelving systems with poles in both front and back.
Both the Omni and CSS tension-mount systems were designed to function as room dividers as well as wall units. The tension pole can of course be mounted anywhere in the room and need not be adjacent to a wall. If you use a system with tie-back bars, you have to attach it to a wall. There are some great product shots that show a wide range of uses for Omni including not just shelving storage and office configurations, but also a dining table, and even a kitchen island with built-in appliances. The CSS benefited from Herman Miller's growing presence in the contract market and probably the reason you see more office-type systems than ones set up for residential use with dressers and other living room/ bedroom components.
As to value and desirability, I'm always surprised that there is a difference in the Omni and CSS. Having watched auctions for years now, it's clear that Omni does bring less than CSS. The only justification I can think of is that the wood components of the Omni can vary in quality, something I attributed to the fact that Aluminum Extrusions was a metal company and I assumed they jobbed out their woodworking and cabinetmaking needs. Herman Miller products of that period of course were of pretty high quality. There is a bit more elegance in some of the details of the CSS in my opinion, but those same details make it more difficult to move or store CSS components than Omni without damaging them. To my mind they should be equal in value.
Over the years I've had a number of Omni and CSS systems and currently use four in our home. In fact, one of the systems came with our house. We have two generations of Omni and a large CSS set-up for bookshelves and a single bay system for a storage unit in the family room. After you have set up an Omni or CSS once or twice, it's really quite simple. You just need to take your time, and be sure you are plumb, level and everything is tightened down securely. We have never had a system fall, or collapse in all the time we have used them.
We have some wonderfully designed old literature for Omni systems that was done by the Nelson office, but I've never had any of the original instructions or printed material for CSS.
I don't know a great deal about ether ISS or the Raaks systems other than they are clearly derivative of the Omni/CSS and some of the components are compatible. I know Raaks has been around for a while, while the ISS I think is a more recent venture.
Are there instructions for Omni shelving anywhere?
Does anyone have a copy of the Omni instructions they could share with me?
They seem pretty logical but I'd feel more comfortable if I had read the instructions before I put my system up for the first time.
I'd hate to wake up in the middle of the night to the crashing sound of the system falling away from the wall because I had miss some important detail.
OMNI is inferior to CSS........
just my opinion, but having lived with both i say spend the extra money for CSS as it is a more beautiful and harmonius design. In teak wood the CSS can't be beat plus the herman miller hardware and lighting leaves the omni looking a little dowdy by comparison.
I have found the omni fairly easy to aquire and hard to sell.
Side by side they both have their merits but when i took down my omni and put up the css life became SUPER!
We have both in our home and I think they are equally great. There are different generations of Omni with different pole configurations, but the classic is the square pole design. The great thing about the square pole is that there are slots on all four side so the system can make a 90 degree turn, even fitting into a corner, something CSS can not.
The quality of the wood components and the case goods in the Omni system can vary, whereas the CSS is always well made. Herman Miller had the advantage there with years of wood manufacturing experience.
Both systems have their merits, but I think Omni is totally underrated and a great buy when you can get it. Besides, it is the original design from the Nelson office. CSS was a later version created to satisfy Herman Miller.
Also, some of the components are interchangeable so you can add elements of one system to the other if they better meet your needs.
I recently purchased an Omni...
I recently purchased an Omni unit, 8 posts, white shelves, double length wood shelves, 2 thick glass shelves, and thin, white cabinets that collapse, and lots of extra hardware; almost 16' in length.
I am thinking this unit is very early because of the construction of the cabinets. It looks very much like the units in that old photo showing the Omni as a kitchen.
Does anyone know the difference between the various generations and more about the evolution of Omni. Thanks in advance, Rick
I have a George Nelson Herman Miller wall unit that has been in my home since the 70's. A few of the ceramic brackets have broken and I wish to find out how I can replace them. I'd like to keep the system true to the original design however finding new brackets seems to be a bit of a challenge.
Elaine in California
Cast Replacement Brackets for Omni System?
I also need brackets for my extensive Omni system that I inherited from my mother. So far I have had no luck in finding anything that resembles the original.
I have thought about trying to find someone who could make a cast of the original bracket and then make new ones from the mold. However, I have no idea who to contact that would be able to help find an economical replacement.
I'd appreciate any thoughts on this approach.
Your solution sounds crazy expensive...
I had a wall system business in San Francisco in the 80s and sold the Omni line. I have some inventory and could dig the Omni up if I knew the following:
Do you want black or aluminum (shiny) finish
How many do you need, and what depths?
Let me know.