Contemporary Furniture Design in San Francisco

After graduating from the Industrial Design program of North Carolina State University, I’m currently in process of relocating to the San Francisco bay area. My design focus is obviously contemporary / modern furniture and or lighting design. I’ve checked this site for related firms, but only came up with a few. Does anyone have a suggestion as how I might find a larger number of such firms?

Thanks. :smiley:

If its furniture you want stay in North Carolina or maybe Michigan.

Stay in North Carolina instead of San Francisco? :open_mouth: I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I’m very excited about moving to the bay area… I’ve already found a few promising furniture studios. I simply want to find more. Thanks for your input, but I want what I want and I’m going to have it! :sunglasses:

I would strongly suggest that you spend a week pounding the pavement at High Point Furniture Market. I went down there this year and landed a job because of that. Email me if you want more details, and I may consider giving you contact info for 2 companies based in the Bay Area.

The furniture markets are a good start for finding prospects but don’t expect all companies to be taking portfolios/info, although some definately will; many only have sales reps or other sales staff at market.

I know that there are quite a few furniture companies/design studios in CA, but I don’t recall their exact locations. More likely to be mod/contemporary in the West than in NC, although you might be suprised. Take a look at Bernhardt’s contract division, for instance.

I recently graduated from App and now work in NC as a furniture designer as well.

Good luck at any rate!

I was quite honestly completely surprised by how receptive they were to talking to me! I started off by emailing or calling about 40-50 companies which I thought would have need for an industrial designer. In the end, I had about 6 confirmed meetings to speak with someone. Of those 6 though, only one was truely intended to be an interview. When I contacted people I told them I was hoping to do a brief information interview and if they had time, I’d love to have them flip through my portfolio.

At any rate, after I had covered my bases on those companies I had made arangements to speak to prior to the show, I just started walking into show rooms and asking; “I was wondering if I could speak to someone from your design staff if they are available and not busy.” Much to my suprise, doing that worked much better then I had anticipated. I think the biggest in for me was to things:

  1. A prototype of a design I am selling to a company was on display in the Showplace building. This established that I knew something of the industry.

  2. I graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI and 80% of our graduates in the traditional Furniture Design program end up working for a High Point based company. Kendall is considered to be in the top 5 in the nation for traditional furniture design, so although I came from a mostly “no name” school (as opposed to Art Center, RISD, etc.) people knew of my college and the quality of the students.

Overall though, I was impressed by the willingness of the people there to speak to me. Chances are if I was able to speak to someone, it was the company president, design department head (if they actually had a staff that big), or VP of Marketing. I certainly made an effort to select companies which were realistic to speak to given my experience level and status as a designer. That meant staying away from the Italian and European companies, and seeing what I could do for a low-mid and contemporary company had to offer.

On a few occassions, I spoke to company presidents who really didn’t have a hand in the development of the furniture (they did mostly exporting or outside development of pieces) and I managed with some success to sell myself as a person they could use to help them duplicate a market offering without copying a competitor’s piece, and improve that design through more engineering or functional aspects.

Overall, it was a great experience. I would STRONGLY encourage any ID person with an interest in designing furniture to attend the High Point Markets. 5 months ago I would have laughed at you if you suggested I should attend High Point. I would have replied, “Why, so I can design Louis XIV pieces?!” What I realized was although there is a limited amount of contemporary or RTA leaning companies there, it is still really a WORLD Furniture Market and there is a decent variety of ID related firms.