This is the last in a series of three posts recapping our conversation with Coalesse Director of Global Design John Hamilton and General Manager Lew Epstein about collaborations between Coalesse and our partner companies. To read more, see part 1, Coalesse + Partners: Bringing Something New to the Table, and part 2, How Does Coalesse Choose Its Partners?
What can you tell us about the types of partnerships we might see for Coalesse in the future? What’s catching your eye?
Lew Epstein: When we think about future partnerships, we think about applications and about work — how our products and capabilities support that. Looking at a whole application, what might we still need to complete that story?
A new area of partnership for us over the last couple of years is with rug companies. Rugs are a really effective way to help complete an application. They define the territory. They ground settings. And if they’re made in the same way that we approach our products — with craft and with the right materials — they can become very distinctive and inviting.
A rug adds a sensibility that defines the space. And when you place our products on top of the right rug, it creates greater warmth and comfort. That’s what I think we’re trying to instill in everything we do.
Right now, nanimarquina is a great example of where we’re going and what we’re doing. We’ve just announced them as our newest partnership.
John Hamilton: With nanimarquina we created a rug line — some for indoor, some for outdoor — with multiple colorways and multiple construction techniques. It’s a nice example of ‘next.’ Think about where we play, the types of spaces we’re trying to create:
Lew: The other thing I’m always interested in is the expertise a partner could bring. If we tried to figure out how to make rugs, it would take us a hundred years to get where nanimarquina is today.
I think nanimarquina is a good example for a couple of reasons. John talked about this ‘dating process’ that goes on in selecting a partner. Our relationship with nanimarquina started three years ago. It was an ongoing dialogue of getting to know them and then deciding, What should we do together now that we know we respect each other? We have an affinity for the caliber of work, materials, and so forth — now what is it that we’re trying to solve for? To solve for that in a thoughtful way together took a considerable amount of time.
The other thing that’s interesting is that it’s a family-owned company, about 35 years old, philosophically very grounded, very consistent, creative, beautiful. So again, there’s that nice family story that values the experience of working together, whether we meet in Barcelona, in Munich or here in the United States. This ongoing relationship is a very rewarding experience.
John: And the practices they believe in — using the right materials, using the right supply chain, not taking advantage of people. And then completely believing that it is all about craft.
Lew: Then when you have an offering like this, there’s also a more business-related and marketing-related question, which is: Will people think of Coalesse for rugs with nanimarquina alone? What’s the critical mass in a category like rugs that’s needed to be successful and offer enough choice?
We already have the Arzu Rug Collection for Coalesse, which has its own visual language, its own price point. It too has a beautiful story that’s rooted in a social cause — very thoughtful about materials and treating people the right way. And now we have nanimarquina.
We’ve talked about rugs. What else is on the horizon as you think about partners?
John: We’re interested in this idea of how the indoors can go out and how the outdoors can come in, and I think there’s an opportunity for us to find somebody who can help us do more of those things. EMU does that for us in some ways, but not in all the ways that we’re imagining. We have a relatively new partnership with Sagegreenlife we’ve been exploring with too. You can imagine that growing and as we think about these types of settings, we’ll be asking, ‘What else is needed to truly deliver on that promise?’
Lew: Right. That’s a domain that can continue to expand. So with each partner, when you know where the others are going, you can keep expanding into new domains. What’s interesting about Sagegreenlife is you can think about it as a new medium, just like rugs are a new medium for us. And so there may be some other materials over time that become yet another new medium.
But we always come back to the key applications that we’re addressing — the work modes we’ve identified. That way we’re staying on brand, we’re sticking to our point of view, but we’re enriching work at each turn with a partner.
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