Katie and Chad Groves moved to the Philadelphia area six years ago, and set about renovating an historic farmhouse. Finding the right local furniture/design resource was a problem, so they decided to do it themselves. Studio 882 opened in 2013. Now, just three years later, Studio 882 is expanding. We caught up with Katie for more of the backstory.
CHADDOCK: How are shoppers today different from the past?
KATIE: Customers today want to buy locally, but their imagination is not limited to the local geography. As the Internet and social media have grown, we are all exposed to so much more – more design ideas and more terrific products – creating more desire to personalize a space. We wanted Studio 882 to be the local go-to for more complete creative expression at home.
CHADDOCK: You use the term “heirloom quality.” In other hands that might sound stodgy. What does this mean to you?
KATIE: I’m glad you asked that. The concept of heirloom quality is not a dusty idea. It’s so relevant today. Heirloom quality means three things at Studio 882. First, an heirloom item must be functional and fill a need. Next, it must be well designed. And third, it must be made properly – materials, finishes and craftsmanship – for its intended use. People don’t want to fill up their homes with unnecessary items. What could be more timely?!
CHADDOCK: We know all your customers are unique, but are there characteristics that most Studio 882 customers share?
KATIE: Our customer demographics are incredibly diverse – different ages and stages in life. But overall, Studio 882 customers are not looking for a formulaic approach to design, quite the opposite. They seek pieces that speak to them individually. They’re keenly interested in the product and brand’s back story. Customers want to know what their options are, and how things are made.
CHADDOCK: It sounds like education and communication are critical.
KATIE: Absolutely. And everything is connected. We choose our manufacturing partners with care. We believe in our vendors. This is why we can speak passionately and honestly about the product to our customers.
CHADDOCK: You talk about “timeless forms with unexpected designer twists.” An example, please?
KATIE: Chaddock does this really well. It’s one of the reasons the brand is so popular. The Petite Camille Chest is just one example. The shape is familiar with thoughtful neoclassical references. But Mary McDonald has added faux shagreen drawer fronts. Unexpected details like this enhance the personality of the piece.
CHADDOCK: Another example?
KATIE: The Centre Credenza is a favorite. It’s a lovely functional piece – very important! – but the large inlaid circles and brass hardware add unexpected geometry and surprise. And, like all Chaddock pieces, when you change the finish – which is so easy, all you need is imagination – you can create an entirely different vibe.
CHADDOCK: Your customers praise Studio 882 visual merchandising. What’s your approach?
KATIE: Curated and non-formulaic. We also let the furniture shine. Our backgrounds are subtle: white walls and floors with light accessorization. It’s not what I would call minimalist – that sounds too modern. The Studio 882 atmosphere is more like an art gallery or museum: edited.
CHADDOCK: It seems like this is quite different from the typical furniture store approach.
KATIE: Apparently so. We try to define what’s right for Studio 882 and sometimes that means not following the rules!
CHADDOCK: What do you enjoy most about Furniture Market?
KATIE: Surprisingly, seeing the new intros is probably not #1. I so enjoy speaking with the people who work at the brands – the behind-the-scenes team that supports us daily. They embody the personality of the brand. I bring those insights almost subconsciously back to the store here Pennsylvania, and my conversations with my customers are even richer.
CHADDOCK: Do you have a Market shopping strategy?
KATIE: Caffeine is definitely involved! My mantra is “no impulse purchases.” We are telling a story at Studio 882. I must see all of our major brands before I make buying decisions. Then I develop the showroom narrative. I am analytical and creative!
CHADDOCK: Any crystal-ball insights on emerging trends:
KATIE: I spy two. First, I see rich wood tones on the ascendency, a response to the stripped-down driftwoods, which have been so popular. Warmer wood tones seem permeated with historical references, and feel more curated. Secondly, there’s been a lot of buzz about the “luxury of time” in the last few years. I think we’re going to hear more about the luxury of SPACE. This can mean more space, of course, but better yet, well-used spaced. So rather than a room full of trendy stuff, imagine more focus on editing, true functionality, thoughtful design. Studio 882 is here to help!