Crate & Barrel President Marta Calle Joins Interior Define As Executive Chair

Interior Define, a company that is looking to turn the furniture retail model on its head, has just hired Crate & Barrel president Marta Calle as Executive Chair.

This is a big hire for the Chicago-based furniture company, which sells high-quality customizable furniture created in partnership with local designers. The company has a showroom in Chicago that uses a much smaller retail space than a traditional outlet, which it uses as a marketing tool to get customers familiar with (or simply discover) the product.

All that said, it’s an online first business, but one that understands how important brick-and-mortar is to the world of furniture. Interior Define has raised a total of $3.2 million in funding.

“I think with furniture, people just want to know it’s real,” said Calle. “Having an ecommerce platform that is supported by brick-and-mortar locations is what gives the customer a window to the brand, so they can have confidence in what they’re buying.”

And in the end, she says, Interior Define doesn’t really care where they buy, whether it’s in the store or online.

Interior Define has started with sofas but is looking move into new categories as well as new markets. The premise behind all of it is that Interior Define will offer affordable yet timeless furniture that is made to last and that doesn’t look like the same cookie cutter piece of furniture you see in every store window.

Which begs the question: As Interior Define scales into new markets, how will it maintain the same level of authenticity as a brand?

“We really focus on the community,” said cofounder Rob Royer. “We collaborate with designers in the Chicago area who have a strong local following, so that there’s a sense of community that goes into each piece of furniture. And we want to replicate that in other markets.”

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