furniture designer

So you want to be an Industrial Furniture designer?

By | about me, furniture | 11 Comments

So you want to be a Furniture designer? I get so many calls and email from new, or aspiring designers, I decided to write this. I even saw this in the movie Magic Mike with Tatum Channing, the stripper with aspirations of designing.

Ellis Media Console

Here’s a couple paths that come to mind. The first is the one they teach you in school (at least I think so). I can’t tell you how many people have asked me what design school I went to, or what tradeshow I’ll be at. The fact is I never went to design school. School was never my thing. I’m more of a self-taught kind of guy. I thrive on research/inspiration, can’t stand reading books (unless they are audio-books, or have lots of pictures). My thought is if somebody is teaching it, well then do the opposite to be successful because everybody else is doing that, and why compete? And I don’t do tradeshows. We’re growing by word of mouth, and our internet success. Create something special that you love, show it to the world, and maybe they’ll come knocking at your door.


So here is path number one for the designer:


Go to art school, the more prestigious, the better.

Sit down, get a blank piece of paper, start designing. (gogogo)

Think of logistics, customer needs, packaging, fulfillment, options, etc.

Design with market needs in mind.

Keep cost down!

Create prototypes, check market reaction with focus groups.

Find factories abroad (if you don’t have one) to produce the product in the most cost effective way.

Market the product at tradeshows.


Sell sell sell!

Fulfill orders.


Or path number two (mine):


Surround yourself with like minded people.

Do research, internet, visit stores and places that interest you, feel inspired, walk around!!!! Don’t forget to look at other countries designs!

Repeat this until you get ideas that you love. I’ll have dozens of ideas before I act. Choose your best.

Don’t follow trends, MAKE THEM! Find a niche! Why bother competing with the rest of the world?

Design something that you want and love. (key word is want and love) Making something you don’t care for will bring you nothing but pain.

Make it!

Show it to lots of people. Make a blog to do that, put it on social sites.

Work at this all day, all night. Blog the shit out of this with pictures and interesting descriptions.

Wake up, repeat, go to bed. Don’t give up, this is hard work! Nothing good comes easy, the harder, the better! (I’ve beeen working 60-80 hour weeks for almost 3 years now)

Orders come in if you worked hard and smart enough. If they don’t keep making more. You will suck at first.

Find people to help that are awesome.


It’s passion that fuels creativity. If you lack passion, you’ll fail in my opinion. Make something for yourself, that you love. And others will come to love it too, if you show it to enough people. The only way you will fail is if you give up. Screw tradeshows, screw school (ya I said that), screw the normal way of doing things. It’s your attitude, not your education, that will get you places. And if your goal is to get rich and famous, then well you missed the point. A big ego will make things difficult to say the least.


I combined a 10 year search for “why I am here”, with a search for spirituality, and found I need to create something tangible, that I believe in whole-heartedly. And out comes furniture, something I didn’t know anything about 3 years ago. Yet I have architects, celebrities, designers, etc asking me for my opinion on design. I’m not trying to brag, I actually never feel content with my designs (and that’s what drives me). The more I know, the less I realize I don’t.  I’m am not an artist, I just enjoy trying to make the next thing that tops the last. What a strange last 3 years it’s been doing this. Sold my first table for $350, and last week one for $15k. At times I thought I was going insane, actually I was going nuts. Couldn’t stop working or get it out of my mind, even if I tried (vacations too). But I’ve found balance for the most part (as I finish writing this up at 8pm). Love what you do, and it’s not work, it’s play. Don’t you love what you do? Because you can, you just have to figure out how. And the tears will come if you venture down this road, but the reward is worth it…


Some of my dreams include:  Stores in NY, LA, Paris.  Opening up a non-profit organic fast food chain around the world. Handing off my company to the employees. Making a difference.  Moving to France for half the year. Flying into space.  Having a 1 on 1 with the Dalai Lama. Learning true inner peace. Realizing the 100 designs in my head which included create a Vintage Industrial car, house, and neighborhood. Building a loft and 3 story clocktower at our shop.