Since this was our first trip to ICFF, we had a number of questions regarding the event including price, timing, trade vs. non-trade, etc. As we were hastily registering for the event, waiting for a credit card screen or some explanation, we had marked down Unbranded Designs as a retailer. We’re a retailer from the basis we sell furniture to consumers, but we think of ourselves as so much more. We consider ourselves a tech company since we’re exclusively web-based. We are a design company due to our community of designers. We could even be considered a manufacturer because we manage a supply chain and source components of our designs from different vendors, sometimes completing assembly. And yes, we’re definitely an e-commerce retailer.
In this instance it was in our benefit to select retailer because it afforded us the opportunity to have several engaging conversations with designers. The main things we learned about the designers we spoke with at ICFF and Wanted Design echoed what designers struggle with here in Chicago and everywhere else. These designers were all looking for partners to 1) manufacture their products and/or 2) carry their products for sale. These designers exhibited the skills to design magnificent pieces and also had the resources to transport their products to New York City, yet they still needed a major partner to bring their designs to the next level.
Coming to ICFF, we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew based on our early research that this was a problem affecting the furniture design community but perhaps the luster of ICFF had made us assume these designers were vastly different. If they were showing at ICFF, surely they’d have the resources to accelerate their designs.
In reality the designers at ICFF face the issues that all designers face. Marketing, sales, manufacturing, and funding impact need to be done well by everyone. After this trip, we’re even more encouraged by our business model, how we can help designers, the amount of amazing designs we saw, and the number of designers that were interested in getting involved with our company. We welcome all of the designers from ICFF, Wanted Design, and anyone else to sign-up and showcase your work. We’d love to work with you!