This Ex-Apple Engineer Just Launched a Furniture Company to Take On IKEA
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If you have ever spent hours on end willing yourself to order a chair online or lost your mind assembling a bookshelf from IKEA, a new ecommerce furniture startup called Campaign wants to offer you a solution.
Officially launched today, Campaign offers a line of sofas and chairs that can be assembled without any tools in a few minutes. Designed and manufactured in the U.S., the furniture is built to ship standard via UPS or FedEx. Campaign also offers free shipping and returns on all products.
The company was started by Brad Sewell, 28, who worked at Apple for a little over a year in 2010 as a supply base engineer for iPod and iPhone manufacturing design. Campaign COO Raul Molina, 29, also worked in manufacturing design at Apple; he and Sewell first met while they were employed at Honda.
The idea for the company first occurred to Sewell when he moved from California to Boston for business school and saw a problem in the furniture industry. "I had this taste in quality, but a budget that was like 'graduated IKEA,'” he says. “There wasn't much between your disposable furniture and the really high-end stuff.”
He decided there had to be a way to make affordable, quality furniture that could be efficiently shipped and assembled. In 2012, he left Harvard Business School to start his company, naming it Campaign as a reference to the portable furniture used by British soldiers during military campaigns in the late 1800s.
The company started developing prototypes in earnest during the spring of 2014 and officially launched its ecommerce site today.
Sewell says he sees his customer as someone who might admire what high-end furniture stores like Design Within Reach or Room & Board have to offer, but has a lower budget and isn't satisfied with the quality or assembly demanded by the West Elms, CB2s, Crate and Barrels and IKEAs of the world. "IKEA leaves much to be desired in terms of an assembly experience. If you do the cost analysis, the shipping and your time would make that piece way more than it's going for," he says.
Campaign's furniture is made of recyclable laser-cut steel tubing and organic cotton. Right now, there are three pieces available: an armchair for $495, a two-seater loveseat for $745 and a three-seater sofa for $995. Next, the company aims to move into dining room, tables, bedroom sets, bathroom and outdoor furniture.
Sewell foresees partnering with other designers to put out limited edition and exclusive runs of covers for the furniture. He would like to have a storefront as part of Campaign's Emeryville, Calif., headquarters and has plans to develop showroom partners.
"Whether it’s your favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn or a hotel lobby in San Francisco, or a bar in downtown Los Angeles or a startup [company's] lobby, we really want to curate list of great places to showcase a few pieces. So your buying experience would be visiting the website, seeing all the features, and then seeing a list of locations where you can try them out," he says.
While it’s a fledgling brand now, Sewell wants Campaign to someday be synonymous with timeless style, like the staples in your closet. "If you walked into your living room 15 years from now, this would still look relevant.”