In the podcast Frank, Buildlane CEO & Founder, dives a bit deep, providing us with an understanding as to how we are changing the custom furniture industry for the good: It’s a long story.
“A number of years ago, I was tasked with building out an e-commerce solution in the furniture world. I have a background in tech and marketing. There was a problem with orders that was making my job harder and naturally I wanted to diagnose the problem. So I went down to the factory that was building the furniture and I just fell in love with that whole culture there in South LA. I joined the community of people there in the factory and met others, running other factories, and as time went on, the people that work there and I just saw what everyone else saw; Which was that there was a huge chasm between communication with designers and factories. Everybody knew that that needed to be solved, but nobody had at the tech chops or the background to do it. I mean it’s a wild world to go down there. You go in the factories that are doing tens of millions in production every year and they’re running off of a Google spreadsheet, the whole production… and it’s just it’s just wild. The reason that it’s hard to get a hold of them and find out the status of your specific piece is because they don’t have a really good centralized database that is outward facing for the account managers to get you the information that you need quickly. So that’s what we have built.”
After the general introduction and orgin story of Buildlane, Host Kimberley Seldon of the Business of Design Podcast asks: Am I a Kodak camera? In other words are we as an industry kind of holding our noses and waiting for the storm to pass when we really should be pedaling as fast as we can to figure out some solutions to all the things that are coming at us?
Frank gets into this question and more stating that the technology is not at all a replacement of the designer, but rather a celebration of the design process. By making custom furniture easy, Buildlane seeks to give Interior Designers their time back, so that have more of it to create!
They also talk about how other furniture companies are trying to replace the designer with software. Here is what they had to say about it.
Kimberley: In terms of our individual design firms, it feels like there are big money corporations kind of posing a small time businesses here to help us,and they are nipping at our heels. It’s disrupting the industry. Some of that is good, but some not so much. So I’m wondering are we like taxi drivers and we’re just annoyed that Uber is here. Are we not facing the reality that Uber is here. Should we be putting all of our energy into figuring out how are we going to work even better in the new landscape?
Frank: We operate within the Los Angeles start up tech world. Which is an extension of Silicon Valley and yes I mean you’re absolutely right, there there is definitely a big push in the last few years for venture capital firms to try to disrupt specific industries. But, the players that are currently in the home space with big technology, they are not trying to elevate what the designer is doing. Rather, they’re trying to replace the designer with software or outsourced labor that can do really simple design work for cheap.
We know that the role of Interior Designer’s is important and its here to stay. There will always be an economy for consultation in how to live well and beautifully. We are working to build a tool that celebrates THAT. We aren’t after your job, we are here to make it easier.
Hear more on the Business of Design.