design

Sold online, walnut veneer plywood chair heads into brick and mortar retail

Blu Dot furniture design and manufacturing sells most of its stylish furniture - a cross between mid-century and Danish Modern designs in oak, ash, walnut, and matching plywood veneers - through online retailers like Wayfair, or its own e-commerce portal. Last year sales totaled $150 million.
 
To establish its brand with consumers, Blu Dot Design & Manufacturing, Inc., has opened retail stores around the globe - but just seven of them so far: Sydney, Mexico City, Monterrey, Austin, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York.
 
The firm was launched in 1997 in Minneapolis by designers John Christakos, Maurice Blanks and Charlie Lazor, where the company builds models and prototype production pieces of furniture at its studio.
 
Blu Dot designers model in computers, "But we favor the immediacy of a drawing and the tactility of a prototype any day," the company says. "We will make small scale models to test out an idea or build a rough full-size prototype to look at scale and proportion. It's a step-by-step process, and each sketch, each model, each prototype gets us closer to the final design."
 
 
Once a design seems to have real potential for launch, production models are made.The Blu Dot Buttercup Swivel Chair, designed in 2004, pairs mid-century modern with a comfortable form Seat colors are complemented by the powder coated or brushed stainless steel finish. www.bludot.com
 

Investors fund U.S.-sourced custom furniture made for millennials

Greycork Furniture market ready-to-assemble furniture that is made in the U.S. Put together without tools - the pieces are screwed together - the furnishing lines tap two preferences of contemporary buyers: items are locally sourced or fabricated, with identifiable origins; and they are customizable. Furniture is ordered online and delivered from stock components within days. Materials include American ash and Baltic birch from Scandinavia or Russia. 
 
Greycork Furniture sees its mission as creating a "new standard for furniture, while bridging the gap between modern culture and manufacturing."
 
Greycork Furniture seems to have tapped into something. It started with an Indiegogo funding campaign aimed at raising $50,000; it has now reached $270,000 in crowdsourced funding. And an additional $2 million from other investors will allow the company to scale up. John Humphrey, founder of Greycork Furniture, tells the New York Times he anticipates $1 million in revenue this year. "The opportunity is very large," Humphrey says. "We are creating a brand that speaks to millennials."
 
Employees of the Greycork Furniture include designers trained at the Rhode Island School of Design. In its profile, the Greycork notes, "Having grown up in manufacturing plants, design schools, and the internet age, we just couldn’t help but wonder why buying furniture usually implied long lines in huge stores, weekends filled with frustrating assembly, and boring products. In fact, we had a hunch that given what we knew, we could create the perfect furniture option." 
 
Greycork Furniture founders (from left) John Humphrey, Bruce, Alec and Jonah.
 
The Felix Coffee Table is priced at $250. Composed of  Baltic birch plywood, ash solid wood, powder-coated steel, components come from Rhode Island, Illinois, Ohio, New 
Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Wood products manufacturers in the supply chain include Panel Processing, which produces the wood frames, tops and shelves, and wood components firm Waddell, which produces the ash legs and posts.
 
Millennials are now the largest segment of U.S. furniture buyers, according to Fung Business Intelligence, with spending up 142 percent between 2012 and 2014. Many millennials prefer online shopping to visiting stores. The chart below from Hong Kong-based Fung Business Intelligence shows annual furniture U.S. furniture sales of the largest firms and the . (Ashley is Number 1.)
 
 
 

Latest Rolls-Royce features walnut burl interior and a sofa

The Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 made its North American debut at the historic Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. 103EX is the marque’s first ever pure ‘Vision Vehicle’ and it defines the future of luxury mobility, accoring to the company, a unit of BMW.  "It presents an intriguing and aesthetically dynamic vision of the future of luxury mobility – a completely personal, effortless and autonomous Rolls-Royce experience, wrapped in a design that ensures a ‘Grand Sanctuary’ for its occupants and a ‘Grand Arrival’."