Feather Wants to Change the Way City Dwelling Millennials Think About Furniture

Buying your first sofa—the perfect one that expresses your design or color preference—has long been a rite of passage for recent college grads embarking on careers in cities like New York or San Francisco. It was a big decision and demanded a major financial commitment. Since founding Feather—a furniture subscription service that offers a flexible and sustainable alternative to ownership—in 2017, Jay Reno has been trying to make that decision obsolete.Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Why buy when you can subscribe—and change things up as your living conditions evolve? That’s the premise of Feather, which Reno based on his own experience: He lived in six different apartments during his first eight years in New York. Frequent moves—from sharing a space with roommates to striking out on your own to moving in with a significant other—often result in furniture that is unwanted because it no longer fits your space or lifestyle.

As an alternative to trying to sell furniture or lugging it to the curb—and inevitably the landfill—Reno saw a solution in a circular approach that eliminates the need for single-use furniture. Feather members can enjoy a range of sofas, tables, chairs, beds and other items when they need them and then Feather will refurbish the pieces and give them a new home when they don’t. But each payment goes toward owning, so members who feel attached to a piece can always make it their own.   

For now, Feather is available to residents of New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange County—the latter two added in May 2019 after the company received $12 million in equity funding. And while Reno isn’t sharing public plans for additional expansion, he does believe “this is a practical, flexible service that city dwellers everywhere can benefit from.”

Read on for his answers to questions about Feather’s membership model, ground-up logistics development, and role as a disruptor brand.

Interior Design: What inspired you to create Feather?

Jay Reno: After studying Entrepreneurship in undergrad and building a few startups, I developed an interest in sustainable business, which led me to pursue a Master’s in Climate and Environmental Science at Columbia. I launched Feather because I saw two problems that I wanted to address: One, the average city dweller moves every one to two years, and they need a more practical, flexible way to own furniture throughout these changes; and Two, fast furniture isn’t sustainable. 

ID: Do you view Feather as a “disruptor” brand?

JR: Absolutely. I see Feather as a disruptor in a few ways. By offering a subscription-based path to ownership, we’re challenging traditional consumer habits and encouraging people to question their relationship with material goods. We’re also trying to drive a more transparent conversation about fast furniture. People have been taught to think that a low price tag equals good value; in reality, the cost of the proliferation of these single-use items is incredibly high for the planet, and it’s not a good investment for the consumer because these items aren’t durable and may even cost money to dispose. With Feather, people can get beautiful furniture without the upfront cost and commitment, and it will be conveniently delivered and assembled in less than a week. And by extending the life of quality pieces with refurbishment, we’re doubling down on the idea that furniture should be built to last. 

Feather’s Wren dining table and Athene chairs. Photography courtesy of Feather.

ID: Describe the membership model. What is the advantage of becoming a Feather member? 

JR: Feather is a furniture subscription service that makes it possible for people to get stylish furniture delivered and set up quickly and conveniently. We offer subscription plans that give customers access to over 150 pieces of high-quality furniture from brands like West Elm, Pottery Barn, Casper, Joybird, and our own Feather label. An annual subscription is $19/month, and these members get access to all furniture items at discounted monthly prices. Annual subscription members also have the option to change out their furniture annually at no cost, plus they get free furniture delivery and assembly within seven days of joining. 

ID: Will you offer To the Trade memberships in the future?

JR: We do not currently offer To the Trade memberships in the traditional sense, but our enterprise program is a great option for interior designers who are looking to select furniture for their projects.

ID: What can other startups and established manufacturers learn from Feather’s reverse logistics model and subscription services?

JR: There were no off-the-shelf reverse logistics software or systems we could directly apply to our subscription business model, so we chose to build everything internally from the ground up. While this might seem like a daunting task, it has ultimately allowed us to have more control and to engineer the customer experience to our own standards. We continue to evolve and improve the delivery process based on first-hand feedback from our operations and logistics teams as we scale. So, I guess I would say if you value this level of control and insight, don’t be afraid to build something new. 

No Comments

In Good Company Exhibition in New York Showcases 15 Emerging Designers

The third annual In Good Company exhibition of emerging artists and designers—this one titled “!?” and co-curated by Fernando Mastrangelo and Rossana Orlandi—opened last week at the In Good Company Viewing Room in New York. It features the work of 15 artists and makers creating collectible design and runs through October 11 by appointment. Here are works by the selected designers:Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Pampas Floor Lamp by Bailey Fontaine

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Angler Chaise Lounge by Arcana

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Maturation Coffee Table by Alanis McNier

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Salt Chair by Gregory Beson

Photography courtesy of FMS Presents.

Aperture Chair by Elyse Graham

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Mullo Coffee Table by Ian Felton

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Home/Body Chandelier by Marco Piscitelli

Photography courtesy of In Good Company. 

Purple Glow Floor Light by Nicholas Tilma

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Negative Bench by Nick Missel

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Figure Container by Ragna Ragnarsdottir

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Aluminum Chair 5 by Soren Ferguson

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Fluid Bearing 1 Table by studiovoll

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Simple Machine #1 by Winston Cuevas

Photography courtesy of In Good Company.

Blaze & Serin by Zac Hacmon

No Comments

Sherwin-Williams Debuts 2020 Color of the Year: Naval

Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Paint brand Sherwin-Williams today named Naval—a rich navy with hints of sapphire, which embodies the dualities of glamour and serenity—its 2020 Color of the Year. In other words: Art Deco, but make it soothing. Taking cues from the decadence synonymous with the 1920s, the bold hue strikes a balance between calm and confident, and pairs well with finishes such as marble and mixed metallics.

“The use of color in interior design is changing. It’s not just about what a space looks like anymore, but how it makes you feel,” said Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “People want to feel grounded and inspired to pursue their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.”

Photography courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.

 Sherwin-Williams considers Naval a versatile neutral, reminiscent of the night sky—a space of infinite depth. The velvety blue morphs to suit its surrounding, whether used to create a statement in a room or as a subtle background that enables other elements to pop, such as leather furnishings and woven textiles. “Naval can play into any mood you’re trying to create, whether it’s lively energy for a restaurant, or calm serenity in a hotel room,” says Wadden.

The 2020 Color of the Year also marks a transition into a new decade of design, one likely to be influenced by the desire to indulge in a night out followed by a day of self-care. Sherwin-Williams’ annual Colormix Forecast, which draws on research from the brand’s global color and design team, expects warmer neutrals and biophilic colors, like greens and blues, to inform the aesthetics of interiors in coming years.  

Photography courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.

“We’re predicting that the next decade in color is going to be bold. This year we saw the return of the 70s, and next year we think the vibrant energy and luxurious design of speakeasies will make a comeback,” said Wadden. “Naval merges the desire for rich, inspiring color with our yearning for relaxation and retreat. In the next 10 years, we’ll continue to move away from omnipresent neutrals and design will feel more personal again.”  

No Comments

10 Questions With…Jody Phillips

Opportunities that arise from unexpected quarters can often be the best kind. Fine Arts graduate and clothing and handbag designer Jody Phillips never saw herself running large-scale events, but when Informa Markets offered her the role of Director of the Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver, five years ago, she accepted and has never looked back.Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Phillips’ is a huge advocate of West Coast design, and curated the book Currents: Contemporary  Pacific Northwest Design, published last year by Sweden’s New Heroes and Pioneers, highlighting 40 design studios in British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington. IDS allows her the opportunity to showcase the best of Pacific Northwest design, she says, alongside the work of international design superstars, through products, furniture, installations, and discussion panels.

This year, the show (September 26-29) is focussed on sustainable thinking and the role designers can play in moving towards a more circular economy. Interior Design sat down with Phillips to hear about what she has lined up, how Missy Elliot ended up with one of her handbags, and the work-in-progress painting that hangs in her East Vancouver home.

Interior Design: Along with London-based multidisciplinary artist Emily Forgot, whose  A Sense of Place installation is the Entrance Feature at IDS Vancouver this year, who else do you have coming?

Jody Phillips: I first saw Edible Futures at Dutch Design Week two years ago, and we’re bringing an iteration of it. It’s a feature that really discusses the future of food and the role design plays in our food security. Amanda Huynh, who was former faculty at Emily Carr (University of Art + Design) and now has a tenured position at Pratt, was the only Canadian who submitted to the edible project, with her dumpling diaspora.

We’ve also got a feature highlighting designers from Copenhagen. Each year, since I’ve been running it, we’ve had an international pavilion. We started with Brooklyn, then we did Los Angeles. Then Tokyo, then Eindhoven, Helsinki, and now Copenhagen.

ID: Food seems to be another theme at IDS Vancouver this year. Can you tell us about Marije Vogelzang’s involvement?

JP: I learned about Marije Vogelzang and her Food, Non Food department at the Design Academy Eindhoven a few years ago. I then experienced her Future of Food Pavilion at Dutch Design week in 2017, which she curated as the founder of the Dutch Institute of Food and Design. When trendsetter and curator in her own right, Elizabeth Margles, VP of Marketing for Caesarstone, mentioned that she was considering Marije for their own 2019 collaboration it was kismet. Marije is thoughtfully turning traditional notions of design on their ear, while attracting a wider audience with varied interests and from industries including food and agriculture. Food’s connection with design and culture is so intertwined. SEEDS, her collaboration with Caesarstone, successfully highlights this connection.

Amanda Huynh’s “Dumpling Diaspora.” Photography courtesy of Amanda Huynh.

ID: What is the design scene like in Vancouver, and who are some of the Pacific Northwest designers we can look forward to seeing at the show?

JP: There’s been quite a difference in this city in the last five years. Of course, I’m biased, but I do a lot of international travel, this job allows me to do that, and I hold really near and dear what’s happening here. I don’t think it’s necessarily an aesthetic that’s specific to the region, I think it’s more of a sensibility. It’s the way in which we collaborate and think about things. That cowboy mentality has really found its stride. It used to be everything had a maker quality to it, and people did start looking at Vancouver and the West for that. We sort of inherently had that quality about us, but the production and manufacturing, and the materials we’re using are more diverse and sophisticated now.

At ICFF (this year) the largest, most impressive installation booths were Vancouver-based: MoloBensenANDlightJeff Martin JoineryBen Barber, and Hinterland. They placed them at the front, they placed them together, and they were very impactful. A lot of those guys are really maintaining this craftsmanship, bespoke, one-off pieces and they’ve seen a lot of success.

For IDS, Herschel and Bensen (founded by Niels Bendtsen) have also collaborated on a tote in upholstery fabric, remnants of Benson manufacturing here for the past 20 years.

ID: Can you tell us about your focus on sustainability?

JP: Just this past year, attending Milan Design Week, I thought wow, hall after hall of beautiful furniture, what happens to all these stalls and all these installations at the end of the week? The majority of them get turfed. All the building materials, all the flooring, all of it goes. I just feel like we’re in a position to start a conversation about that. It’s a bit of a double whammy, because here I am in the design industry, where there’s so much waste, and so much consumerism, and then I’m also in the event industry, and all of that whether it be signage, lanyards, the food and beverage side of it, there’s so much disposable waste.

No Comments

15 Product Highlights from the London Design Festival

All eyes were on London last week, where a heady rush of new furnishing products made their debut. In its 17th year promoting the United Kingdom’s capital as the design center of the world, the London Design Festival ran September 14-22 and spanned 11 city districts. Dozens of installations were just a starter—the city also hosted four tradeshows: 100% Design, the London Design FairDesignjunction, and Focus/19. From the unexpected shapes and texture of papier-mâché lamps to a homey launch fitting all markets by David Rockwell and a leather hide digitally-printed with the far side of the moon, here are 15 of our favorite finds.

1. Sensi Paper-Mâché Lamps by Maria Fiter for Crea-Re Studio

Photography courtesy of Crea-Re Studio.

Old newspapers and sustainably certified water-based glue are the two ingredients in Sensi, a collection of papier-mâché lamps by Maria Fiter for Crea-Re Studio. The unexpected materials bear organic shapes of unexpected texture—and make the lamps compostable.

2. Sage Credenza by David Rockwell for Benchmark

Photography courtesy of Benchmark.

Demonstrating beautiful products don’t need to be market key-holed, David Rockwell launched Sage for Benchmark. While the collection is geared towards office and hospitality, items are just as at home in a residential setting. A sculptural room divider in oak or walnut, the Sage Credenza with Shelves has a media option, complete with ventilation and cable management. 

3. Sage High Sofa by David Rockwell for Benchmark

Photography courtesy of Benchmark.

Offered in two- and three-seater variations, the Sage High sofa by David Rockwell for Benchmark has a high back in oak or walnut. Its sustainable wool upholstery and natural fillings are fire retardant, eliminating the need for toxic chemicals.

No Comments

15 Installation Highlights at London Design Festival 2019

With global climate strikes in the news, it was refreshing to see climate awareness as a driving topic at this year’s London Design Festival. After all, the global climate problem is one the design community has the power to influence. The British capital’s celebration of all things design was held September 14-22—and once again Interior Design saw dozens of clever and intriguing site-specific installations, many inspiring wonder and reflection. From an animated cube pointing attention to ocean trash to the surprising curves possible with recycled scaffolding planks—and even what is possibly the world’s most comfortable subway car—these 15 standouts caught our eye.

No Comments

15 Installation Highlights at London Design Festival 2019

A tendency towards bold color and often outdoor friendly—that sums up many of the new product launches unveiled last week in Spain. Bigger than ever, the annual trade show Feria Habitat Valencia 2019 took place September 17-20, drawing more than 500 exhibitors and some 25,000 visitors to the southern European country’s third-largest city.

Meanwhile, the local design industry basked in the glow of a major coup: On September 9, the World Design Organization named Valencia the World Design Capital for 2022, in tribute to its longstanding design legacy. That reputation for innovation was evident in the show’s offerings—from a chair with a handy internal pocket to happy-go-lucky poufs, elegant outdoor seating, and chairs that hug. Here are 15 of our favorite finds.

No Comments

15 Product Highlights From Feria Habitat Valencia 2019

A tendency towards bold color and often outdoor friendly—that sums up many of the new product launches unveiled last week in Spain. Bigger than ever, the annual trade show Feria Habitat Valencia 2019 took place September 17-20, drawing more than 500 exhibitors and some 25,000 visitors to the southern European country’s third-largest city.

Meanwhile, the local design industry basked in the glow of a major coup: On September 9, the World Design Organization named Valencia the World Design Capital for 2022, in tribute to its longstanding design legacy. That reputation for innovation was evident in the show’s offerings—from a chair with a handy internal pocket to happy-go-lucky poufs, elegant outdoor seating, and chairs that hug. Here are 15 of our favorite finds.

No Comments

Lutron Opens New Commercial Experience Center in Manhattan’s NoMad Neighborhood

Lutron recently invited press and industry guests to visit its new commercial Experience Center in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood. At a spacious 5,500 square feet, it’s almost twice the size of Lutron’s previous Penn Plaza location. The center offers architects, designers, contractors, developers, and building owners an immersive experience that showcases Lutron’s range of lighting and control capabilities.Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Lutron’s Experience Center showcases Ketra’s programmable smart lighting technology. Photography courtesy of Lutron.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by Lutron’s original 1961 rotary dimmer, signaling the origins of a product line focused on lighting control and the ways lighting can affect the human experience. A tour of the Experience Center showcases the four aspects of the Lutron HXL (human experience lighting) brand: quality light, natural light, connection to the outdoors, and adaptive and personalized controls.

The interactive spaces include a model hotel suite. Photography courtesy of Lutron.

The center is divided into distinct environments to show the different capabilities and use cases for Lutron’s Ketra smart lighting system, including a lobby area, meeting rooms, and a model hotel suite.

The Experience Center displays functions that respond to and simulate natural light. Photography courtesy of Lutron.

Lutron also has commercial Experience Centers in Coopersburg, PA.; Plantation, FL.; Irvine, CA.; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto and London, as well as a residential Experience Center in Midtown Manhattan.

No Comments

10 Questions With… Kate Duncan

What you see is what you get with furniture designer/maker Kate Duncan, and what you get is increasingly impressive. Duncan’s furniture is meticulously crafted and her new collections are always refreshingly original. Her latest work, which she developed while completing a studio fellowship in Rockport, Maine earlier this year, was shown with great success at curated Manhattan design event Next Level in May. And the Kate Duncan brand is now represented by Dmitriy & Co in New York, and Salon in Boston.Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

Duncan has been at the center of the Pacific Northwest design scene since launching her brand in 2014 and is the founder and co-curator of Vancouver’s annual designer/maker showcase event Address. Now in its sixth year, Address (which runs September 25-29) will present the work of 40 exhibitors from all over North America, including Portland, Toronto, Texas, and Los Angeles. The show has also been picked up by DesignTO (formerly Toronto Design Offsite Festival) and will run for a week during the Toronto Design Festival (January 17-26, 2020).

Interior Design sat down with Duncan to hear about her latest work, how Address has taken on a life of its own, and how wiping out on her motorcycle led to her successful design career.

Interior Design: What was the thinking behind your latest collection, Ribbed?

Kate Duncan: I wanted to take a bit of a departure from where I was—drawing inspiration from the Arts & Crafts movement, mid-century modern, Japanese joinery—I really wanted to take a break from all that, stop dreaming in that language and pick up something different. So, I went back to the rolltop desk. It was a sculptural element. I started to look at sculpture, what sculptors were doing, what ceramicists were doing, not furniture makers, what everyone else was doing. And then I took a look at architecture, and specifically the Brutalist movement of the ‘70s. It was cool to start from scratch. It took a long time. I got to the fellowship in Maine in early February and I don’t think I did anything for the first four or five weeks. I just sat and sketched.

Ribbed credenza by Kate Duncan with black leather veneer and brass pulls. Photography by Sierra Kristen Photography.

ID: What pieces resulted from this?

KD: A credenza with a black veneer. It’s a bit elegant. It’s got a tuxedo vibe, and the drawer pulls are pure brass. I designed them and had them manufactured. Then there’s a writing desk—all pieces come in white oak, black walnut, and maple—with a green leather top, so really riffing on the traditional writing desk. And then there’s a dining table and bed.

ID: What has the reaction to this collection been like so far?

KD: I showed a few pieces in New York this past May and I did really well with it. Sold a piece right off the show floor and got picked up by a showroom in Manhattan. They’re now sending me all kinds of work.

Ribbed desk by Kate Duncan. Photography by Sierra Kristen Photography.

ID: Address is now in its sixth year. What can people look forward to seeing this year?

KD: It’s going to be huge. We’ve got a 9,000-square-foot warehouse and 40 exhibitors from all over North America. Some of the designer/makers participating are Nike Schroeder from LA, Djuna Day from Toronto, Tretiak Works from Portland, Vancouver quilt designer KTWP Studios, and jewelry designer Erica Leal.

ID: Address has also been picked up by DesignTO. Can you tell us about this?

KD: The show is going to change a little bit from Vancouver to Toronto. Instead of 30 or 40 exhibitors I’m going to scale back the show to 12 tops and focus on more established designer/maker brands. There’s a language more established brands have versus younger brands, and though I love to create a platform for younger and up-and-coming brands—it’s really fun—it’s also really challenging.

Address in Vancouver showcases designer/makers from across North America. Photography courtesy of Kate Duncan.

ID: We understand you’re partnering with Lightform Toronto for this?

KD: They’ve got a showroom warehouse that’s right in the heart of the design district. We’re talking about incorporating their lighting into the work of the 12 exhibitors to make it flow. I feel really good about Lightform, DesignTO, and Address all pooling our brainpower for this one beautiful aesthetic.

ID: When did you first discover your love of furniture making?

KD: I took woodshop classes right from when I was 12 years old through to when I graduated. Both my parents were accountants—they don’t even know which end of the hammer to pick up—so I don’t really know why or where it came from. It was just a really big pull. I wanted to make the thing. I wanted to see what the thing was, whatever it was.

The Heather bed by Kate Duncan. Photography by Brittney Kwasney.

ID: You were a high school woodshop teacher and set up a pilot program for inmates at a Greater Vancouver detention center. When did you make the switch to full-time furniture designer/maker?

KD: When I was 28, I was sideswiped in a hit and run and knocked off my motorcycle at a really busy intersection. A bus came up in the lane beside me and ran over my helmet. The paramedics couldn’t believe I essentially walked away, but I was off work for a year-and-a-half having surgical reconstructions (hip and arm) and I kind of rehabilitated in the woodshop. I made furniture for myself, which was kind of wonky. But then the orders started coming in and I was like cool, this is like a job. Let’s do this.

ID: What does your apartment look like?

KD: Sometimes it looks awesome. It’s been featured in magazines before. Sometimes it can look super dope and then sometimes not so much.

ID: Why, what changes?

KD: Sales. I sell something and then there’s this big gaping hole, like oh the mattress is now on the floor. Whoops! All the prototypes go to my house and eventually I sample sale them off.

No Comments