Interior Define redefines custom sofas with a new retail store format
Buying a sofa can be a major challenge. Not only is it one of the most expensive pieces of furniture most of us buy, but it defines the style of a living room and is subject to a lot of wear and tear. It is therefore important to find the right balance between aesthetics and practicality. Going for a bespoke sofa is ideal, but it can be a costly and frustrating endeavor, especially since online customizations are often a gamble. However, Interior Define has changed this process, combining an in-person and online experience, so customers can get a truly custom piece at around the same price they would pay for something “out-of-the-box”.
Founded in 2014, the direct-to-consumer brand opened its first outlet in Chicago in 2015. While most retail operations have shrunk in recent years, Interior Define has not only seen in-person sales increase , its number of stores also increased and they launched the Define Studio retail concept.
Defining Studio Stores
In October 2021, the first Interior Define Studio opened in Seattle, then the concept expanded to Dallas and Atlanta in late 2021, followed by openings in Charlotte, Austin, Williamsburg, Minneapolis, Baltimore and Denver. A Santa Monica outpost is planned for 2022, and other locations are expected to open through the end of the year.
Between 2020 and 2022, Interior Define has expanded to fifteen permanent locations, plus a few pop-ups, and plans continued expansion through 2023. With the new Define Studio format, the brand has also expanded its retail footprint by opting for larger spaces that measure approximately 5,000 square feet, a 200% increase from the brand’s previous locations.
This concept also generates more sales. Define Studio has had an exponential impact on conversation rates, driving rates two to three times higher with in-person sales.
The best online and offline
While many people buy custom furniture online because it’s convenient, there’s always an inherent risk involved. Whether it’s the fabric not quite being what was expected or realizing that a firmer seat filling would have been a better decision, Define Studios is a perfect way to bridge that gap.
Customers can work with design experts at no cost, building pieces online, but together and in person. There’s even technology that allows customers to view a rendering of how these designs would look in their own spaces with 360-degree product views, fabric combinations, and seated videos showcasing models of varying heights.
The brand’s design experts also take the process a step further with custom mood boards, advice on floor plans, and advice on all aspects of the process. For example, they are likely to recommend performance fabrics to customers with pets and children and perhaps a loop to someone with a less chaotic lifestyle and more refined aesthetic.
But sofas do not exist virtually. While consumers can order up to ten samples for free online, the store will allow them to take home as many as they reasonably need. This not only helps them see if the color coordinates well with their existing design schemes, but also allows customers to experience the reality of wear. For example, a design expert at the Define studio in Williamsburg told me that many customers will rub samples on their pets to see if they attract hair and will even go so far as to spill red wine on them to check the performance of performance fabrics. With over 125 swatches available in tweeds, performance fabrics and velvets among other choices, there’s something for everyone.
Interior Define Customization Process offers 40% more options than the brand’s main competitors. There are a seemingly endless number of configurations with the flexibility to choose fabrics, seat depth, cushion type, length, leg options and aesthetic details such as piping and color blocking. Much of this program is the result of analyzing real-time customer feedback and applying the data to the furniture design process.
The definition of interior is coming to Brooklyn
One of the brand’s most notable new Define Studios is the Williamsburg location, which opened in April 2022. Measuring 5,522 square feet, over 80% of the current Interior Define product assortment is on display. This includes the James sofa with contrast piping, the Charly sofa, the Jasper sectional chair, the Sloan sectional chair, the Maxwell side chair, the Tegan swivel chair and the Rowan chair. This allows customers to experience a product even before it is built to their exact customization. It also helps facilitate adjustments such as cushion firmness and depth in addition to aesthetic details such as piping.
Having this studio is especially important in a city like New York where spaces tend to be smaller than the average home and the cost of living is higher. So, customers can invest in a practical yet chic item that they can enjoy for years to come.