how can I emerge from Furnitureland USA (NC)??

I have about 3 years experience working as an in house designer for a high profile, contemporary furniture company in North Carolina. While I love the company, I’d really like to move away from the little city in NC where I live, and go to a metropolitan city.

Another one of my concerns is that a lot of my work tends to consist of critiquing and re-engineering (essentially ghost designing) products other designers have sent to us to make.

Another issue is the lack products that I,personally, have had the opportunity to design here. The few I have gotten to design, have ended up in ad campaigns (which has been amazing!), but the amount of in-house design has been far smaller than what I was quoted coming in.

Has anyone else been in these situations? Do you know of away I can improve my chances of finding another job?

Also, what city/region would be best to relocate to for furniture/furnishings, etc. (besides highpoint). It seems like SF & LA have a lot going on. NY seems a little more out of reach. What about Chicago?

Cheers. Thanks a lot.

If you want to go into contract furnishings, Michigan is probably the place to be.

Well to specify, I’m more interested in NYC, LA, CHI, SF, LON. While writing this, I also understand that’s what many people want as well.

I have given contract some thought, but I think I would preferr approaching contract from a freelance stance.

Well to specify, I’m more interested in NYC, LA, CHI, SF, LON. While writing this, I also understand that’s what many people want as well.

I have given contract some thought, but I think I would preferr approaching contract from a freelance stance.

None of those places are really big on furniture, especially anything outside of contract.

What about Ontario?

How much of your 3 years experience has been dealing with prototype development with outside vendors or internal manufacturing? Have you got ideas about furniture pieces that you’d like to develope but they don’t quite fit the company aesthetic? Have you considered starting out on your own?

From what I understand of the furniture industry, it can be seperated into 3 groups-in terms of career options: Working as a designer at the large furniture companies-where you’re at now, Steel Case, Herman Miller, etc.; medium sized companies-Blu Dot, Helzter, see also ICFF exhibitor directories, etc.; Small design and build studios who’s market is mostly local with cursory web presence. Of the last group there may be several small studios who have developed relationships with interior design and architecture firms for custom work.

I’m working toward a studio practice in the last group. I’m suggesting you consider this option as well. I’m not quitting my day job tomorrow, I figure it will take me a couple years to establish some kind of business presence.

You know something about the industry, right? You’ve made contacts, been to a couple trade shows? Put together a portfolio of your own work and see if you can pick up a few contracts.

The big guys like steelcase and herman miller have been scaling way down and closing divisions in Michigan, so that might not be a good option.

Your best bet is probably to go the contract furnishing route or go out on your own. I know a guy that works in a Chicago Chinatown artists loft and runs his own furniture business. He seems to do pretty well and there are lots of other people around to collaborate with.

I FIND THIS INTERESTING, HERE I AM WITH 3 YEARS EXPERIENCE DESIGNING AND BUILDING FURNITURE ON MY OWN AND I’M TRING TO FIND A STABLE CAREER OPPORTUNITY IN A SMALL RURAL TOWN.

THE DICHOTOMY OF WORKING FOR ONES SELF CAN BE HEAVEN AND HELL

HEAVEN:
DESIGNING AND BUILDING FURNITURE OF YOUR OWN DESIGN

HELL:
1)WORKING WITH OR FOR INTERIOR DESIGNORS WHO HAVEN’T A CLUE AS TO HOW IT ALL WORKS, I WANT WALNUT BUT I WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE ASH. THEIR MANIPULATIVE LITTLE… BUT IMPARITIVE IF YOUR WORKING THE STUDIO/CUSTOM HIGH END OF THE BUSINESS

  1. GALLERIES ARE IMPARITIVE, BUT TAKE A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF THE SALE SOME 50%… 40% IF YOU’RE LUCKY

  2. THE INFLUX OF GALLERIES IN HIGH END RESIDENTAL AREAS SELLING CHINESE MADE FURNITURE @ PRICES YOU CAN’T EVEN BUY THE WOOD FOR, AND ITS DAMN NICE FURNITURE, EXOTIC WOOD AND ALL.

  3. THE RASH ON MY ASS FROM PADAUK, BECAUSE I HAD TO WHORE MY SKILLS AS A WOOD WORKER TO DO AN INLAY IN A FLOOR TO PAY THE STUDENT LOAN FOR MY BFA IN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN.

SO AS MEPS IMPLYED HAVE A DAY JOB OR A SUGAR MAMA TO SUSTAIN YOUR SELF IF YOU DO GO OUT ON YOUR OWN, FOR TIMES CAN BE TOUGH WHEN THE ECONOMY IS SO.

BUT IF ITS TRUELY PASSIONATE AND YOU’RE GOOD, ONE ONLY NEEDS TO LOOK @ THOMAS OBRIEN FOR HICKERY CHAIR OR CHRISTOPHER DELECORT OR THE OTHER FURNITURE DESIGNERS FOR RALPH PUCCI INTERNATIONAL AND KNOW ITS POSSIBLE TO DO YOUR OWN THING,AND GET PAID FOR IT. WHICH IS WHAT I’M VYING FOR.

IN THE MEAN TIME… ONE-OFF CONTEMPORARY FURNITURE FOR SALE OR A CAREER OPPORTUNITY@ HUFFSTER.COM

i’ve run the gamut.

i worked for one of the big 3 in michigan. i now work for a small firm in charlotte, nc.

i have about 7 years in now total.

i gotta admit, i like the small firms the best. less security, sure, but your role is far more dynamic. naturally, the ‘culture’ of any company plays a HUGE role…moreso than i ever anticipated.

i am hesitant to say"goto michigan" because the economic status up there is a friggen’ mess. steelcase had a huge downsizing and the their in-house staff is tiny compared to what it was. turnstone is the only design department that remained intact, to my knowledge. haworth is doing pretty well, but their ideation department doesn’t have the same lustre that it used to back in the '90s with the wicked talent pool they had. herman miller uses designers in a far different role. they are project managers and liasons. if you want to get in at miler, you need more than 3 years of furniture experience and a masters is pretty much a must-have.

i think you need to determine what sort of direction you want to go towards. there are so many small firms and individuals fighting for scraps that without a good network of contacts, you’re gonna flounder.

personally, i like norf cackalacky, but i know my options are a little limited here. plus, i can’t stand the winters in west michigan. go watch “fargo” and subtract the accents. that’s what you have up there from december to march. email me if you want to pick my brain further, i’ll try to watch for it.

if by CHI you mean CHIna instead of CHIcago, you would on the right path.

one more thing…start pimping at this fall’s market.

look for companies you admire or who’s direction you like. it’s easier to work for a company and float your own boat that way.

I’m in the same boat as you, stella corona - except that I only have a year and a half of experience in the industry vs. three.

I’m quite unhappy at my current job (designer, illustrator, CAD monkey, among other things) at a smaller furniture company in western NC that serves many niches in the outdoor furnishings world. There is so much potential for the mid and high-end outdoor markets that we cater to, yet upper management only wants to serve the traditional furniture retailer and old-school sales reps with little regard for consumer interests. The bulk of my work is ‘sketching’ other people’s ideas and reverse-engineering. I’m still nieve enough to think that the floundering furniture industry is going to wake up to the fact that we need an ID-oriented, innovation-centered business model soon, and I’ll be there to show them the way.

At any rate, I’m actively pursuing my own furniture designs outside of work, and using some of my work contacts (and other contacts outside the industry) to get some things built so that I can at least sell a few on the side to fuel my true passion. But I’m not quitting my day job, as the freelance side of the retail furniture industry is draconian/old-school for the most part, and extremely tough to break into unless you are a celebrity with a marketable name. The small, cottage-industry furniture designer/manufacturers are a growing trend (check out Sublime Design in NYC), but not yet at a level that I think I can make enough to pay all the bills. I want to test the waters, so to speak, without diving in head first.

As for a location to move to that has a lot of furniture opportunities, there are none that I know of. NYC seems to have a lot of retail exposure for designers, but few manufacturers. Ditto for Chicago. I hear a lot about small studios in NYC and various locations out west, but nothing worth moving there for (unless you have a foot in the door already).

Oh, and High Point might not be the best locale to show your portfolio, but there are a few exhibitors that could be of interest. Blu-Dot and Umbra are two that readily come to mind in IHFC, and I’m sure there are some prospects at 220 Elm that will keep your efforts from being a total waste of time. ICFF and NeoCon are the big guns for contract and contemporary.

when iwas in grand rapids, i had a a lot of friends who all worked for different companies. without getting into specifics, we would gripe and biatch about our jobs over beers. sort of odd to biatch to a friend who works at steelcase and another at haworth, but it was theraputic, if not just simply fun.