Building Innovative & Nomadic Furniture With Burrow
For many years, the high-end furniture industry has been at a shocking standstill due to the glacial pace of production lead times with heavy prices. Because of that, consumers have settled for low quality pieces that they buy in parts, regretfully needing to put together on their own, only to then get rid of at a later date because this piece doesn’t fit into any other space. Nowadays, it’s the responsibility of the interior designer to think ahead for their clients and source furniture that they know will last for more than one home.
Enter Burrow, a brand building clever, comfortable furniture suitable for the modern nomadic lifestyle using safe and environmentally-friendly components that are suited for a lifetime of living rooms. Burrow’s innovative, modular design maintains the premium craftsmanship and quality of high-end sofas with cost-efficient shipping and 10-minute tool-free assembly. Burrow Co-Founder Stephen Kuhl shares what interior designers should consider when choosing a sofa, his take on the modern function of the sofa, and what’s next for Burrow.
What’s Burrow all about in 140 characters or less?
Burrow is an eCommerce brand that offers luxury couches and a superior couch-buying experience for half the cost of comparable high-end retailers.
Burrow moved their HQ from Philadelphia to NYC – what’s the design scene like in NYC?
While Burrow was conceptualized in Philly while our founders were earning their MBAs from The Wharton School, we’re actually now based in the Flatiron neighborhood of NYC where the design scene is as vibrant, inventive, and energetic as it’s ever been. And, the hallways and stairwells are still as narrow and daunting as they’ve ever been, which is why Burrow’s innovative, collapsible design makes it the perfect fit for the New York market and other thriving metropolitan cities.
“Thorough research and analysis made it clear that high-end sofas were expensive primarily because of one reason: logistics.”
Based on your knowledge of the industry, why are interior designers and consumers more comfortable buying sofas and other home goods online?
The high-end furniture industry has been remarkably stagnant for decades and consumers have been reluctantly compliant with its stagnancy because there has never been a great alternative. It’s largely been either (1) deal with the marathon-like lead times and wallet-emptying prices of the high-end market, or (2) settle for a pile of particle board from a low-end flat pack provider that requires three hours and a trip to the ICU to assemble. So, people stroll up and down the aisles of these high-end furniture retailers eventually succumbing and footing the bill for the exorbitant overhead and shipping costs that they incur.
However – like with clothes, and then eyeglasses, and then mattresses – newcomers are challenging conventions in antiquated industries historically dominated by a few big players. By democratizing the purchase process in parallel with the supply chain, Burrow – like Bonobos, Warby Parker, and Casper before us – is lifting the curtain on a whole new experience catering to the modern consumer. Today’s consumer, influenced by the fulfillment speed of Amazon and the on-demand satisfaction of Uber, doesn’t want to wait, doesn’t want to pay for inefficiency, has less and less apprehension about buying bigger, more valuable products online and, frankly, doesn’t want a crappy product. That’s why we designed the Burrow sofa.
In order to meet the demands of the modern consumer, we had to do a deep engineering dive. Thorough research and analysis made it clear that high-end sofas were expensive primarily because of one reason: logistics. Shipping a bulky piece of furniture between suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses, retailers, and customers tacked on several hundred dollars during each step. On the other end of the spectrum, Ikea minimized the shipping weight and dimensions in order to cut these costs, but ultimately lost out on material quality and customer assembly experience. Burrow’s innovative, modular design maintains the premium quality and craftsmanship of high-end sofas while compartmentalizing the design just enough to use cost-efficient standard shipping and still retain an unbelievably quick and painless 10-minute tool-free assembly experience.
“People are now sitting, eating, studying, working, Netflix binging, and sleeping on their sofas. People need a sofa that can stand up to that kind of use, while still being both stylish and comfortable. At Burrow, our mission is to give them just that.”
Which materials and components does Burrow use and why?
Providing premium quality and craftsmanship while minimizing our environmental impact has always been at the forefront of our mission as a company. That’s why we use sustainably-sourced hardwoods, chemical-free naturally stain-resistant fabrics, and stainless steel, among other high quality materials. Furthermore, our packaging is made from recycled materials.
How did you select your color palette?
Months and months of research into our target demographic yielded our current color palette. While we knew our three core colors – Crushed Gravel (light gray), Charcoal (dark gray) and Beige – would satisfy the light, neutral tastes of the majority of our customers and be the foundation for individual stylizing with accent pillows and throws, we wanted to also serve our more inventive and edgy customer segments. That’s why we rolled out our Navy Blue and Brick Red colorways when we launched on April 4th.
Which styles and colors are your best sellers?
Our low-arm Crushed Gravel 3-seater is far and away our most popular offering, followed by the high-arm version of the same size and color, and then the low and high-arm versions of the Charcoal 3-seater. One of the greatest features of the Burrow sofa is the modularity. If our customers buy a three seater today, they can always order an additional module down the road and upsize to a four-seater without having to buy a whole new sofa. And, if they need to clear some floor space for a family gathering or other event, they can remove one or two of the modules to make a two- or one-seater. The removed modules can be easily folded up and stored away from the crowd.
In your opinion, how has the function of the sofa evolved over the years?
Sofas have historically been living room showpieces and were seldom used. Today, people are becoming increasingly efficient with their living arrangements and lifestyles, meaning that the living room, dining room, kitchen, study, and bedroom are merging. People are now sitting, eating, studying, working, Netflix binging, and sleeping on their sofas. People need a sofa that can stand up to that kind of use, while still being both stylish and comfortable. At Burrow, our mission is to give them just that.
How does Burrow typically work with interior designers?
In the past, we admittedly haven’t done much besides show off our products and help interior designers complete their beautiful designs faster and more affordably. However, after realizing how their talent could add so much to our brand and help our customers even more, we’re beginning to roll out a suite of collaborative partnerships that are win-win-wins for Burrow, interior designers and, most importantly, our customers. Interior designers are encouraged to get in touch with our Partnerships Manager, Alex, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about how they can get involved and become part of the Burrow family.
“Interior designers should consider, now more than ever before, things like transportability, flexibility, and affordability. Burrow sofas allows designers to give their clients a premium, stylish product that can move and grow with them without sacrificing a sliver of comfort, quality, or durability.”
What are some key factors an interior designer should consider when searching for a sofa?
The nomadic consumer is becoming more and more prominent in the marketplace today. People are just not settling down like they have in the past. They want to experience new lifestyles, new cities, new cultures. They need products and design elements that allow them to do just that – not ones that hold them back. Interior designers should consider, now more than ever before, things like transportability, flexibility, and affordability. Burrow sofas allows designers to give their clients a premium, stylish product that can move and grow with them without sacrificing a sliver of comfort, quality, or durability. Also, people are using their sofas for just about every activity of their lives – eating, working, sleeping – and need a product that can withstand that level of multi-use. Burrow’s focus on craftsmanship and our integration of naturally stain-resistant fabrics make our sofas the ideal choice.
What’s next for Burrow?
Our ultimate vision has been to provide our customers with their entire living rooms, shipped directly to them in less than a week and set up in less than an hour, while stretching the boundaries at the peak of convenience, quality, style, and comfort. By continuing to pursue an aggressive product roadmap, that vision isn’t too far away, and we are so excited to bring it to fruition.