So where was I? That’s right, I was at Redbrick, the North’s hot spot for all things interiors and design. I was waxing lyrical about the new mahousive MADE showroom in Part I.
In Part II, I’ll be looking at MADE x Unboxed and exploring why that was such a clever move. Plus, i’ve got an exclusive interview with Rebecca Ruddle, MADE’s Head of Showrooms for a real insight into the rise of MADE.COM and its success here in Yorkshire. But first, a few more images to get you back into the swing. I took over 100 photos during my tour, so to prevent giving you RSI from scrolling in Part I, I saved some for Part II.
ARCHE floor lamp.
The BOURBON chest of drawers for some classic french style mixed with the very British design of the WOLSELEY sofa. In 100% wool tweed and made right here in the UK.
The gorgeous DARCEY desk in Walnut and Oak where the clever design seems to defy gravity.
The ESME 60’s coffee table in Ash plywood with solid ash skirt and splayed legs.
The ORSON sofa. Another MADE classic, that’s been a long standing design. The collection has now extended its fabric and design options adding beds to the mix too.
The VITTORIO corner sofa in teal, the scandi inspired KOLTON armchair and SENK floor lamp in chrome.
And this brings me onto MADE x Unboxed. What is it?
“Unboxed contextualises our products without the need for costly lifestyle shoots or high street shops, which ultimately the customer would pay for.” Chloe Macintosh. Founder and creative director of MADE.
MADE x Unboxed is a community, a community of MADE customers that want to show off their new prized purchases. Anyone who’s a real interior junkie takes photos of their stuff. I do. It’s part of my job. Oh alright, I love showing off too.
With MADE having only two (soon to be three) physical showrooms to keep costs down and bring you more affordable, fresh design, what’s the next best option? Use your customers’ homes as showrooms. A-ha!! Clever.
“Like the look of a MADE piece but want the proper lowdown? Unboxed lets us connect with other likeminds and find out how they’ve used those pieces to make more of their spaces. Think honest reviews, helpful advice and even face-to-face meetings to see the way they’ve brought MADE to life.”
And you can actually do the last bit. You’re able to search by postcode, so if you’re not up for a three hour drive see the sofa you like the look of. You’re able to contact MADE x Unboxed members through the site and if you’re lucky, they might just let you come for a quick visit. I know I wouldn’t mind someone coming to sit on my Scott Armchair or check out my Boheme Lamps. You can keep your mitts off my Hendrix cushions though. Dry clean only.
A gallery of MADE x Unboxed photos.
I’m on MADE x Unboxed and have used it a few times to check out pieces before i’ve purchased. It’s really helpful to be able to see them in real homes. Homes that don’t have double height ceilings, exposed metal beams and vast amounts of open space. Homes with cats sitting on chairs and the odd child hanging upside down from a sofa. That’s more like it. Seeing how pieces of furniture work in a room, the size, shape, colour can give you a shed load of ideas too. Inspiration is everywhere. Why not use it!?
MADE x Unboxed gives you lots of mini showrooms across the country and indeed into Europe now, without the running costs. Genius. They also offer a £100 voucher every month to the best photo uploaded as a little incentive. We all love a voucher don’t we?
Other companies, such as Habitat and Swoon Editions have caught on and are introducing their own versions of the “interactive online showroom”. Not quite as advanced as MADE x Unboxed admittedly, but the concept still remains.
Swoon Editions have the #swooned campaign running through their social media channels, with a chance of winning a £350 voucher. Nice. I’ve entered with the Sydney Stool which was purchased for The Blue Room. Wish me luck!
The #HabitatVoyeur campaign got us all Tweeting, Instagramming and uploading photos of our Habitat purchases to try and win one of their Hendricks sofas, including me. I didn’t win that one, but I was “highly commended” for my entry by the Deputy Editor of Elle Decoration.
What’s that kiddo? Time for the Interview with Rebecca? Right, ok….
Rebecca Ruddle, MADE.COM’s Head of Showrooms
Hi Rebecca, how long have you worked for made.com?
Just over 3 years. My background is in luxury furniture retail – before joining MADE.COM I was a Department Manager at Selfridges and a Retail Manager at Harrods. It’s great to still be working with bespoke designer pieces, and even better that our business model allows us to offer them to our customers at such affordable prices.
What does your current role entail? And how has it developed since your time at made.com?
My role is to manage and develop the offline experience for this fantastic web based furniture company.
We launched our first showroom in our office space in Notting Hill. Renting retail space at that time was expensive and office space was cost effective – we’re about keeping overheads low to allow customers to enjoy fantastic prices, so it was the right move at the right time. It’s hard to imagine that my first trip to our first showroom was made in a hard hat – it was still a building site at the time!
Demand grew and we soon took over the whole of the 9th Floor of the same building. With our ranges expanding all the time – we launch 2 new collections a week – it made sense in 2013 to open a concession in Redbrick. This year, when the site in Soho became available, as an agile, fast growing business, we were able to move quickly and make the most of the opportunity.
As our offline presence has evolved to keep up with our rapid online growth, my role as head of showrooms has expanded to cover 2 permanent sites and various pop-up showrooms across the UK and Europe.
Now my role encompasses strategy, new business development, policy and procedures. I’ve developed unique concept showrooms from scratch. I also manage a growing team of design savvy showroom assistants. No two days are the same – MADE still has the fast-paced, innovative working environment of a start-up.
How have you seen made.com grow as a business during your time working at Made?
MADE.COM’s growth story over the space of these three short years has been phenomenal – we’ve absolutely exploded.
Our business model allows us to trial so many new things. We can commission designers to create interesting, quirky pieces. Pieces that more risk averse retailers would pass over in favour of more commercially obvious bestsellers. Our Shark Chair, designed by Philip Colbert from the Rodnik Band, is a great example.
Our collections are growing – this year alone saw us launch our first Kids collection and debut a whole new bedroom and bathroom textiles range.
Looking at the business as a whole, MADE has also grown from a UK-based brand to a one that now operates in five countries since I first started here. We’re on the way to being one of the main destinations for design in Europe.
It has been great to see awareness for the brand increase closer to home as well – our growing customer base in the North prompted us to extend our concession in Redbrick this month to cover a whole floor and are poised to open a third space in Liverpool’s Metquarter alongside high end brands like Jo Malone.
One of the most important development we’ve seen has been MADE x Unboxed, our online social showroom where anybody can go anytime to look at our products and feel inspired. It’s a great innovation we see as the future of retail – one that seamlessly supports the customer experience at our physical sites.
Was there always a plan to open showrooms? And how has it affected the online business?
We’ve got to where we are by always listening to the customer. We are always looking at the best way to bridge the gap between online and offline and when we trialled our innovative showrooms, we found they did this well. Although we’ve always had incredibly detailed product pages, we knew our customers also wanted to see and feel our products.
The Redbrick move was genius. I visited the showroom quite soon after it opened and was itching to see more. It felt like it needed a bigger presence, like the Heal’s store on the ground floor. What was the feedback from the initial opening? Had people heard of Made?
Most people in London know us from our eye catching tube ads. In Leeds we didn’t initially encounter the same brand awareness, but the reaction to our Redbrick opening was better than we ever could have hoped.
Since the opening of the showroom in December 2013, we saw sales growth in Yorkshire area increase by 85% – faster than anywhere else in the country. And in the past year alone, footfall has increased 73%. To say we are pleased would be an understatement.
What prompted the decision to take over the entire top floor?
Our innovative showrooms have always performed extremely well – on the back of a great first year and an even better Q1 this year in Leeds, within Redbrick, we decided to take up the offer to expand our showroom across the entire top floor.
Are there any plans to add the option to purchase smaller items at the showrooms? Cushions, lighting, accessories? So you can get a quick fix whilst waiting for pre-ordered items to be delivered.
Yes – we’re always looking into how to make our delivery options more convenient for our customers. We’re trialling the option to purchase smaller pieces on the spot. These pieces don’t take up any space we don’t already have, so we don’t risk incurring further overheads.
Would you say there is a distinct difference between your northern/southern customer base? Do we lean towards different pieces?
Bright, button-back sofas have always been popular with customers and a hit with our northern customer-base particularly. Our bright yellow Rufus sofa collection has been an excellent seller.
We’ve also noticed that visitors to the Redbrick showroom have bigger homes and less space constraints to consider, compared to our city-dwelling southern customers.
There are a few other quirks and differences, but we prefer to look at the core things that are the same. MADE x Unboxed has taught us that a man in his 30’s, working full time, who has recently bought and furnished his first house, has more in common with a Italian in the same situation, than with his own neighbours on his street in Grimsby.
What are/have been made.com’s top three popular pieces?
Dressing tables have been a huge growth category for us this quarter, with the Penn collection an instant favourite with our customers.
Pieces from the PENN collection.
We saw our first batch of Penn Dressing Tables sold out within a few days, more than 2 months before the first made-to-order shipment arrived. The use of traditional English Cabinetry and the clean contemporary finish went down so well with our design savvy customers. Our showroom in Redbrick is currently the only place customers can come and see this piece and boy it’s worth a visit for it alone.
CONNOR Sofa in Petrol.
Velvet is a big emerging trend for AW15 – we’ve extended many of our classic ranges in velvet colourways for the new season. We’re expecting the Connor collection in Petrol to continue as a great seller.
The clever MOTTI sofa bed sat next to the MOLLY armchair in blue diamond stripe.
Sofa beds are another strong category for us, especially as our customers start getting their homes ready for Christmas. The Chou button back sofa bed is really popular – it transforms into a bed for which fits even our taller customers and is a stylish retro piece in its own right.
There look to be more businesses replicating made.com’s business model. It seems to have taken off quickly despite today’s buyers wanting everything immediately. Taking orders prior to manufacture seems to add an element of the “bespoke” to a purchase. Everyone loves to feel they’ve gotten something that’s limited edition. Are we getting better at waiting? And better at understanding the process of design to manufacture and on to sale?
As awareness of our brand has increased, more and more people are catching on to the design to manufacture process. We find that our customers are looking for unique designer pieces that will add a special something to their home. We constantly receive feedback that the quality, design and affordability of MADE pieces more than makes up for a slightly longer lead time.
I am guessing you have a fair few pieces from made.com at home? What is your “can’t live without” item? And why?
I have accumulated many MADE.COM pieces over the years – it’s impossible to resist all of this fantastic design!
The piece de la resistance is my Halston Armchair. It’s a classic design which works perfectly with my Victorian property, and so comfortable that my friends and I argue about who gets to sit on it during movie nights. My husband and I are also the proud owners of 3 cats. We’ve opted for durable, paw-proof furniture throughout our home – this armchair fits the bill perfectly.
I’ve also just refurbished my kitchen – my new Bramante Kitchen table has been a great addition.
So far, Made has expanded delivery from the UK to Ireland, France, Italy and Netherlands. I’ve heard there may be plans to open more showrooms. Possibly in Europe? The rest of the world? Where do you see Made in 2020?
I can’t say too much about our plans for Europe, but watch this space for future developments!
Wow. What a great interview. Exclusively for you my lovely followers. Thank you Rebecca for such a great insight into one of my favourite places to shop.
Guys, I hope you’ve enjoyed my “MADE.COM Blog Duet”. I hope Part I and II have given you some design inspiration and perhaps some plans for a trip to Redbrick. I know I can’t wait to go back. Alone. So I can get away with purchasing something this time!!
PS. I am not getting paid, freebies or anything spesh to write this post. I am just a genuine fan of MADE. You could say “groupie”. I am also a huge advocate for affordable design and highlighting #designupnorth. MADE.COM at Redbrick just nails that for me.