Friday, March 02, 2012

Room & Board — where it's all about you

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to tour Room & Board's Los Angeles showroom to see their new designs for 2012. In the interest of full editorial disclosure, I've loved this store for years.

It's not an easy time for any business but what's remarkable about this particular company is that they've chosen to update their offerings with greater depth, rather than breadth, of product, and it all comes from listening to their employees recount what customers are saying on the floor. While they've of course introduced brand new furnishings, what's particularly exciting is the availability of new finishes and fabrics for their existing lines.

I have to admit, though I'm a fan of mid-century design I'm not a huge fan of the warm, orange-toned woods that feature so prominently in the look. I much prefer a cooler palette, so I was delighted to find the new Shell finish. It's a soft gray inspired by a sea urchin the company's owner found on the beach, and it's done with a light enough touch that the wood grain comes through beautifully—it's a stain, not a painted finish. Aside from Shell they're also offering a pure white opaque finish, again a direct response to customers' requests. While natural woods remain Room & Board's raison d'etre, they've taken a Darwinian approach to design: The one that adapts survives. And how are the new designs and offerings being received? With tremendous success. Especially the live-edge Chilton table, which has already sold out.

The Corbett dining table and Moro cabinet in Shell.

A Copenhagen 9-drawer dresser, now available in bright white.

Each Chilton table is made in Vermont (100% of Room & Board's furnishings are made in the United States) and features two solid slabs of wood (either cherry or walnut) braced with butterfly joints. My quick snap doesn't do it justice!

Not a sign we see often these days.

Otis chairs may have been around for a few years but they're fresh with a dazzling new range of colorful velvet upholstery options (from Mustard, shown, to teal, bright pink, and navy blue).

The Westport. Finally, a chic recliner.

This April the Los Angeles showroom will open a 4,000-square-foot addition devoted to the company's outdoor line, and I've been told to keep an eye out for a few new designs that may be revealed mid-year.

See and learn more at

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