After working at e-commerce apparel brand Bonobos, Rob Royer decided to extend the same streamlined production process and
customer-first approach to the industry he was truly passionate about: home
furnishings. Focusing on well-designed and well-made furniture that doesn't
sacrifice price, he launched
Interior Define with business partner Steven McClearn. 66
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Tell us about the founding of Interior Define and your background.
Rob: Coming from two generations of interior designers and architects, I grew up immersed in design and developed a passion for furniture at a young age. As an adult, I aspired to designer pieces for my own home, but was effectively priced out of the market. While working at the ecommerce apparel brand Bonobos, I began developing the concept for a similarly re-imagined furniture experience, called
Interior Define. We’re providing a new alternative for design conscious shoppers – offering both style and personalization at an innovative price point. Above: Walters Fabric Chaise Lounge Sectional
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You’ve streamlined the production process to make furniture more efficiently. What changes did you make?
Rob: Our process is unique. While many typical furniture
retailers purchase through wholesalers or trading companies, which limits personalization
options and ultimately leads to higher retail prices, we work directly with
carefully selected manufacturing craftsmen. Our craftsmen produce every piece
on demand, which enables us to oversee the entire process while streamlining
our overhead. For instance, we don’t have the inventory and warehouse expenses shouldered
by the typical furniture retailer. We also sell primarily online, with one ecommerce
showroom in Chicago that doubles as our headquarters. We’re all about
efficiency. Above: Taylor Sofa
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When shopping for furniture, what do you think is the most important thing customers should think about it?
Rob: Don’t settle for a design you’re not excited about. It
sounds obvious, but it’s not always easy in practice. A staple piece, like a
sofa, is the anchor of your living space. Beyond being comfortable, which it
should be, you should be excited to look at it for years. Find a design you
love, and then make sure it’s good quality. When inspecting it, knock on the
side and back of the piece. It should sound solid all around as opposed to
hollow or thin. Lift up a leg and see if the entire frame lifts equally, which
is a good way to test the frame strength. Above: Sloan Fabric Sofa
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Right now, your product offerings are all seating, specifically sofas and chairs. Any plans to expand into tables, storage
Rob: We would definitely like to expand into other categories
over time. We are adding a couple of complimentary accessories in the near
future. That said, we’re focused on building exceptional upholstered furniture
and delivering great customer experiences right now. Our unique approach to
production and pricing really resonates with people who are actively shopping
for sofas and chairs, which we’re very excited about. Above: Asher Chaise Sectional
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What’s your favorite piece form your collection and why?
Russell sectional is definitely one of my favorite
pieces. It’s a large, contemporary piece with very clean lines that allow it to
fit in both modern and transitional spaces. It has a unique steel base, which
is a nice design touch, and makes it exceptionally strong.
Steve: The Crawford leather sectional is a great piece. It’s
a contemporary, low profile sectional with several unexpected design details like
contoured seams and round hardwood legs. It’s also very comfortable. The price
point is also almost unheard of.