Buying a sofa can be a major challenge. Not only is it one of the most expensive pieces of furniture most of us buy, it defines the style of a living room and is subject to quite a bit of wear and tear. So, finding the right balance between aesthetics and practicality is important. Opting for a custom sofa is ideal, but it can be a costly and frustrating endeavor, especially because online customizations are often a gamble. However, Interior Define has changed this process, combining an in-person and online experience, so customers can get a truly custom piece at around the same price they’d pay for something “off the rack.”
Founded in 2014, the direct-to-consumer brand opened up its first retail location in Chicago in 2015. While most retail operations have been in decline in recent years, Interior Define has not only seen in-person sales increase, its number of stores has also increased and they’ve launched the Design Studio retail concept.
Design Studio Stores
In October 2021, the first Interior Define Design Studio opened in Seattle, then the concept expanded to Dallas and Atlanta in late 2021, followed by openings in Charlotte, Austin, Williamsburg, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Denver. A Santa Monica outpost is planned for 2022 with more to locations scheduled to open through the end of the year.
Between 2020 and 2022, Interior Define expanded to fifteen permanent locations, plus a few pop-ups, and plans a continued expansion through 20223. With the new Design Studio format, the brand has also expanded its retail footprint opting for larger spaces that measure approximately 5000 square feet, which is a 200 percent increase from the brand’s earlier locations.
This concept also drives more sales. Define Studios have had an exponential impact on conversation rates, driving two to three times higher rates with in-person sales.
The Best Of Online And Offline
While lots of people buy custom furniture online because it’s convenient, there’s always an inherent risk. Whether it’s the fabric not being quite what was anticipated or realizing a firmer seat fill would have been a better decision, Design Studios are an ideal way to bridge this gap.
Clients can work with design experts at no cost, building pieces online but together and in person. There’s even technology that allows clients to view a rendering of how these designs would look in their own spaces with 360-degree product views, fabric combinations, and sitting videos featuring models of different heights.
The brand’s Design Experts also take the process a step further with personalized mood boards, floor plan advice, and guidance on all aspects of the process. For example, they are likely to recommend performance fabrics to customers with pets and children and perhaps a boucle to someone with a less chaotic lifestyle and more refined aesthetic.
But sofas don’t exist virtually. While consumers can order up to ten swatches for free online, the store will allow them to take home as many as reasonably needed. This doesn’t just help them see if the color coordinates well with their existing design schemes, but also allows customers to experience the reality of wear and tear. For example, a Design Expert at the Williamsburg Define Studio told me that many customers will rub swatches on their pets to see if it attracts hair and will even go so far as to spill red wine on it to check how well the performance fabrics perform. With more than 125 swatches available in tweeds, performance fabrics, and velvets among other choices, there’s something for everyone.
Interior Define’s customization process offers 40 percent more optionality than the brand’s leading competitors. There is a seemingly endless number of configurations with the ability to choose fabrics, seat depth, cushion type, length, leg options, and aesthetic details such as piping and color blocking. Much of this program has been the result of analyzing customer feedback in real-time and applying the data to the furniture design process.
Interior Define Comes To Brooklyn
One of the brand’s most noteworthy new Define Studios is the Williamsburg location, which opened in April 2022. Measuring 5522 square feet, there is more than 80 percent of Interior Define’s current product assortment on display. This includes the James Sofa with Contrast Piping, Charly Sofa, Jasper Chaise Sectional, Sloan Chaise Sectional, Maxwell Accent Chair, Tegan Swivel, and Rowan Chair. This allows customers to experience a product even before it’s built to their exact customization. It also helps facilitate tweaks such as cushion firmness and depth in addition to aesthetic details such as piping.
Having this studio is particularly important in a city like New York where spaces tend to be smaller than the average home, and the cost of living is higher. So customers can invest in a practical yet chic item they can enjoy for years to come.