Chloe Macintosh, co-founder and Creative Director of MADE.COM, talks to DesignFizz about British design, future classics and how their new project, Unboxed, is turning our homes into online showrooms.
MADE.COM burst onto the British design scene in 2010, determined to make modern design accessible to the masses. Four years on, 150 staff later and with a second office in Shanghai, this fast-track online furniture retailer is changing how we shop for our home – allowing us to buy online, so we can sidestep high street costs.
‘We wanted to revolutionise an industry that had been largely unchanged for decades,’ explains Chloe, originally from Paris, who studied as an architect before joining Foster + Partners. ‘Our passion to solve a problem –making great design affordable – and our lack of preconceptions and different backgrounds has enabled the business to respond to customer demand rather than conform to industry constraints.’
Pitching up at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair within four real-life apartments instead of taking up a conventional stand, this disruptive design house wants their products to be seen in customers’ own homes rather than a sterile showroom. Cue new social platform Made Unboxed.
'Unboxed is a social showroom that anyone can visit, at any time of day, to see who has bought from MADE.COM and how they've styled their pieces. We believe this is the future of retail. Forget the demise of the high street, it’s all about the revolution in your own street.'
At MADE.COM the customer really is king. 'We’re always listening out for what our customers want and they ultimately decide what we sell. We don’t make a product unless we know that there is demand. If they like it, we make it; if they don’t, we stop selling it. We have a fast-fashion approach, launching two collections a week and evolving with the market as quickly as we can.'
'The 'Fonteyn' dressing table (right) by Brit talent Steuart Padwick is a future design classic. We created it four years ago as I needed a small table to fit in my bay window. It’s perfectly compact and the tapered legs are inspired by a ballerina’s feet on point. It’s a real talking point and has become an iconic product for us.'
Chloe takes inspiration from London, her favourite city. 'The pool of talent is so stimulating and dynamic, which constantly challenges everyone to evolve. It is also totally diverse. In the MADE team, we hail from all over the world, speaking nearly 30 languages, and that brings real soul to what we do. There is something unique in the UK's desire not to conform but in a non-subversive way. London's art and design scene is very active, but it is also extremely democratic with events such as the London Design Festival (LDF) making design available to all. It’s important for a country's cultural growth to reach across all social strata, which the UK does particularly well.'
At September's LDF, there'll be lots of Unboxed-related fun, new collections and the announcement of the winner of MADE'S Emerging Talent Awards. 'Five finalists from recent degree shows are selected and customers vote for the winner,' says Chloe, 'We also have special guest collaborators coming up this autumn, but it’s all top secret right now!'