Designing furniture for the modern Seatttleite.
Furniture store owners will be the first to tell you that Seattleites are a peculiar lot. Our tastes are far from perfect. Quirky, sure, but our taste derives from a confluence of conflicting factors such as empiricism, ecological interest and ultimately, irony. A well-crafted desk may seem out of place in an 800-square-foot apartment with Swedish furnishings, but the irony of spending $1300 on a walnut Basis Desk from Room & Board isn’t lost on the stereotypical Seattelite. “Oh, we like how it accents our back issues of The Stranger.” Everyone chuckles. Unpredictable shoppers, Seattlites: PBR in the ‘fridge and a Ferro dining table to drink it on.
So how do you design furniture for a people so fickle?
Let’s look objectively (if that’s possible) at Seattle and its inhabitants. It’s a city in flux, ensconced in development, in love with cranes. We’re outdoorsy, thanks to all the great outdoor activities (like parkour!) at our disposal and the capricious nature of the rain. We’re creative, inspired by the aforementioned caprice. Wood is easily accessible (this is essential for furniture craft) and the Pacific Northwest boosts an impressive arboreal catalog. Coffee.
Seattle: a bounty of wood and no solid identity to cater to.
My advice? Get some local wood: Myrtle, Oregon White Oak, Western Walnut, the makings for hearty, localized furniture. Think internationally. Now, the Northwest doesn’t have much identity in the furniture realm, but we do enjoy our international influences: French art deco, Japanese design, Scandinavian durability and Shaker minimalism. Also read: sustainable.
Then, pray. Pray to the Land of Pines that someone finds the your design abstract and alluring and completely non-essential but highly-coveted. Watch as they sip their Stumptown Cold Brew and shake as they appraise your Harlequin Bookcase. Perhaps the pine lord will shine upon your piece, if it’s quirky enough.