ISSUE 38  |  Fall Forecast

Ikea Disrupters: 6 New Upstart Furniture Companies

September 22, 2015 1:00 PM

BY Julie Carlson

A new wave of entrepreneurs is taking on Ikea, cutting out the middlemen and offering flat pack furniture direct to consumers and, in some cases, at below-Ikea prices.

Akron Street

Above: The Draper Desk is $485.

Founders Lulu Li and Hansley Yunez named their company after the street in Cambridge, MA, where they had their first apartment. Their first collection of furniture is made of FSC-certified white oak from the Appalachians, and the furniture itself is produced in the Shandong Province in northern China. “We spent a lot of time finding the right manufacturer, and we’re happy to working with one that has produced for several prominent European and Japanese brands.” Most pieces take less than 15 minutes to assemble and are shipped flat pack.

Artifox

Sarah Carpenter and Dan Mirth, the St. Louis-based founders of Artifox, are “devoted to rethinking home and office products; our mission is to merge technology with the art of handcrafted goods.” The idea for the company came about after the two found themselves frustrated with the choices in office furniture; “the new mobile lifestyle requires products with multiple functions.”

Above: The Desk01 in maple is made in the US from solid maple hardwood and includes a built-in mobile charging station, a storage cabinet for cables and drives, a removable powder-coated writing surface, and aircraft-grade aluminum hardware; $1,800 (it’s also available in walnut for $2,000).

Above: The Standing Desk01 in maple is $2,000 (in walnut it’s $2,200). The company also offers an elegant wall-mounted Bicycle Rack in maple or walnut for $250.

Biggs & Quail

London-based Will Biggs and Sean Quail met at school and have been friends and collaborators ever since. In 2013, “dissatisfied with poor design of mainstream furniture,” they launched Biggs & Quail, a furniture company with “a focus on enduring quality, practicality, and elegant simplicity.” 

Above: The full range, available from Biggs & Quail. Prices start at £175 for the Pyramid Table and Stool and go up to £1,250 for the walnut Chest of Drawers.

Above: The Midcentury Modern Coffee Table with hairpin legs is £250. 

Campaign Living

What happens when an Apple engineer who’s worked on the design of the iPhone goes furniture shopping? Brad Sewell, the founder of just-launched furniture company Campaign, was a student at the Harvard Business School when he discovered how grim the marketplace is for midpriced furniture. Sewell left B-School to found Campaign, a flatpack upstart offering a three-piece suite of slipcovered furniture, with prices starting at $495. “We make furniture that lives, moves, and grows with you” is his company’s mantra. “Clean lines, classic proportions.”

Above: Campaign offers an Armchair for $495, a two-seater Loveseat for $745, and a three-seater Sofa for $995. Pre-orders will ship in November 2015; go to Campaign to reserve.

Above: The packaging can be reused when you move.

Greycork

Founded by an earnest group of RISD grads and a product designer, Greycork aims to provide you with a “living room shipped in a box,” with pieces made of solid ash wood with foam cushions covered in polyester. The Greycork Living Room Set includes a sofa ($450) and chaise ($300), coffee table ($125), side table ($75), and bookshelf ($180). 

Above: The team describes the aesthetics as “Japanese American”; the pieces are constructed from ash and fiberboard, with polyester upholstery. To preorder, go to Greycork (deliveries are projected for December 2015).

Whackpack Furniture

Bucks New University design graduate Brendan Magennis founded Whackpack Furniture in response to the “nomadic lifestyles and shrinking apartment sizes” of his generation. The furniture requires no screws or glue and can be assembled with “just a few hearty whacks of a mallet,” he says. The project is still in Kickstarter mode but looks poised to take off.

Above: Using a Japanese woodworking technique called a “hell joint,” Magennis designed a small line of tables and stools that be easily assembled (and disassembled). 

For more next-generation interiors companies, see Bedding Disrupters: Luxury Linens for Less, and Mattress Disrupters: 7 Upstart Companies