Fast furniture is starting to go out of style. In particular, millennial buyers prefer items they can keep for a long time over those they will discard before their next move. Declan Ee, who co-founded the furniture company Castlery in 2016, is the person who understands this the best. “When we were furnishing our own homes, we were dissatisfied with the paucity of well-designed, high-quality furniture that was available at an alluring price. This is how Castlery was born. And this is exactly the unmet need we hope to address,” he tells me. “Castlery was founded on the idea that everyone deserves a place to flourish without having to settle for “fast furniture” or being overcharged. No matter if they are looking for their first home, designing a space to hang out with friends, or nesting for a growing family, our goal is to create furniture that inspires people to thrive as they journey through the various seasons of their lives.”
Castlery offers lovely items for every room in the house, all with a modern yet classic aesthetic. Everything has charm, from cane dining chairs to wood tables and cozy leather sectionals.
Ee and I recently discussed the unique qualities of Castlery, the state of the furniture market, and trends expected to emerge in 2023.
What distinguishes the design process at Castlery?
Declan Ee: At Castlery, we have established an exacting procedure that has been improved over time. A designer, a buyer, an engineer, and a planner are entrusted with each collection. To guarantee that trendy, high-quality products reach the market quickly and affordably, this team operates like a well-oiled machine.
Working with our customer experience and data analytics teams, the designer creates products that not only look great but also meet the needs of our customers. While an engineer works to redesign inefficient processes and a planner looks for raw materials at the most competitive price, the buyer identifies the best-in-class manufacturers to work with.
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As a result, we are able to create tried-and-true, robust items that are made for everyday use. Over the past nine years, we’ve improved this strategy by engineering over 7000 SKUs. We take great pride in every product that is launched, and our founders continue to sign off on every product, in addition to the fact that all products are conceptualized and designed entirely in-house by our team.
What distinguishes Castlery from other places?
Ee: Castlery works to make luxury living affordable for all urban millennials, and in addition, we strive to make the process as frictionless as possible by consistently enhancing the client experience.
We think our supply chain management team is among the best in the business, enabling us to provide fashionable, high-quality goods at reasonable prices.
Urban millennials who are given the freedom to do so can design environments where they can thrive as they reach various milestones. Our drive to create focal points for people’s lives is what ultimately led us to this intersection of beautiful design at attractive prices.
What caused the brand’s global sales to rise following the pandemic, in your opinion?
Ee: We only started in seven states when we first entered the US market a few months prior to the pandemic. In other words, as a newcomer to the market, the deck was stacked against us. But in those few months, we quickly gained momentum because we put our customers first, created a product line that they wanted at an alluring and reasonable price point, and dealt with their needs in a seamless and prompt fulfillment experience.
As people made improvements to their homes after being cooped up for so long, the entire industry experienced an increase in sales. After it became apparent that the pandemic wouldn’t end quickly and that we would all be staying at home for longer than anticipated, we eventually noticed an increase in sales. Sofa sales significantly increased, probably as a result of more people lounging on couches. A significant increase in desk and dining table sales was also observed. As dining rooms doubled as conference rooms and classrooms, this is in line with the changing needs of consumers.
How does Castlery use technology to enhance the client experience?
Ee: As a tech-driven company, we take pride in enabling consumers to shop with confidence, whether through augmented reality (AR), smart shipping information, or in-depth product pages with videos and close-ups. While many brands were having trouble predicting their shipping dates, our website was set up to show clear delivery windows that were updated every day and tailored to each zip code. We used augmented reality on our website to give customers the option to place three-dimensional models that are accurate to scale inside their own homes. You can even examine specifics like the textures of leather and fabric using the virtual models.
Ee: The industry as a whole is affected by uncertainty as we leave Covid regarding potential consumer spending because the industry has a lengthy planning cycle and it is difficult to forecast consumer behavior in nine to twelve months given the current environment.
The industry still faces shipping challenges, but we’ve entered into a long-term agreement with Maersk that gives us a benefit and consistent access to dependable shipping so we can keep meeting the needs of our clients.
What should one look for when purchasing furniture that they intend to keep for a long time?
Ee: Cheaply made furniture might at first be appealing, but once the fabric starts ripping and the seats start sagging, it will probably end up in the trash. Purchasing furniture that is well-built and made of high-quality materials is always a wise decision because you can count on it to last a long time, saving you money and reducing waste.
Ee: We anticipate that curved, organic freeform shapes will continue to be popular. We also anticipate that people will continue to adore textured fabrics like boucle. But when it comes to interior design, we always advise eschewing fads in favor of long-lasting furniture.
Ee: I suggest beginning with a fine leather sofa in a classic shade of brown. It serves as the focal point of your home, so make an investment in a good, sturdy piece that will last and serve as a neutral foundation. Choose a tufting-adorned traditional mid-century modern style from the Madison or Isaac collection, or go for a simple silhouette highlighted by flange seams from the Jonathan collection.
A timeless piece like this will last you for years as you transition through your various life phases and can be refreshed by simply switching out your accessories or adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls.
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