Watch Benchmade Modern launch on stage here.
This interview with Benchmade Modern founder, Edgar Blazona, was conducted by the team at Job Portraits during preparations for the LAUNCH Festival.
Let's start off with your elevator pitch.
We manufacture custom sofas in as little as 24 hours, which we introduce to customers in unique retail stores that make heavy use of robotics. Our stores are hybrids of the online and offline experience, all in a very small footprint, about 800 square feet. The customer walks up to an iPad, they swipe through to find a sofa they like, they hit the “show me” button, and the robot grabs that sofa off the wall and puts it down in front of them to touch, feel, and sit on. When the customer finds a model with the right comfort and quality, they go back to the app and customize the size. We do everything from 10 feet down to 35 inches — in 1 inch increments, which is unheard of. All manufacturing happens at our own factory in Los Angeles. Standard build time is 7 days, or you can expedite it and we'll do it in 24 hours.
Why are you the right person to solve this problem?
I’ve been a designer in the furniture industry forever — at Pottery Barn, Walmart, Target, all three office superstores — and the one thing I’ve realized is that, within the sofa industry, customers have this weird, love/hate relationship. You’re typically buying a sofa for two people, so both of you have different opinions about comfort and style. Arguments are the norm. And then once you get it all figured out, you pay and the store is like, “It’ll be 8 to 12 weeks!” But it’s usually late and then you don't even live in that apartment any longer. We’re taking an oldworld method of manufacturing, adding technology and a new retail environment, and the result is a completely new way to experience furniture.
In an ideal world, what happens once you launch on stage and for the rest of March after?
We're going live at the Festival with benchmademodern.com, where we’ll be beta testing four collections with seven-day manufacturing. Two of those will also have a 24-hour option. Our first retail store will open in about six months — we’re about to start programming the robot to do the picks and variations. Our app will be done the week after LAUNCH, so we're on our way.
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