You know what’s even better than coming across a gorgeous, eco-friendly and available modern piece of outdoor furniture? Buying that piece of furniture from a lovely couple completely deserving of your business. Perhaps one of the greatest pleasures of doing this job is getting to know the people behind the brand names of furniture out there, and it was especially nice to get to know the folks behind a new modern outdoor furniture company that’s fresh, stylish and must-have for this upcoming outdoor season.
Andrew Stoneman and Laura Haskell, besides being adorably in love and the parents of the cute and almost two Laird, are also behind what’s one of the coolest looking new modern outdoor furniture collections that we’ve seen in awhile: the Haskell Collection. Also, the Haskell Collection is one of 2Modern’s newest vendors!
We got to sit down with both Andrew and Laura to hear about their backgrounds (creative yet surprising), why they decided to go into the outdoor furniture business (really genuine and touching) and what makes their new products able to compete and stand out in a sea of pretty cool furniture (fresh details we’ve never seen before and their absolutely astounding cradle-to-cradle eco-friendly and sustainability features.) They were both not only knowledgeable about their field and their company, but they were friendly, kind and witty, too.
We’ll admit: we liked them so much and we’re so excited about them being a new vendor we’re splitting their interview into two parts. You can check out the first part below, and you’ll want to check back next week when we post the second part and get a little more in depth into each designer’s background.
2Modern: We’re here with Andrew Stoneman and Laura Haskell today; they are the married creative team behind one of the coolest modern outdoor furniture collections we’ve seen in a while. Thanks for being here.
Andrew Stoneman and Laura Haskell: Thanks for having us.
2M: Well Andrew, let’s start with you, I don’t know anything about your background—what led you to this career?
AS: Well ironically it’s a direct result of our soured economy over the last few years. I have a background in sales, most recently in the engineering and steel industries. When things turned south I was a victim of the downturn and was laid off. In light of the fact that the job market was tough, I took it upon myself to pursue my own endeavor with a tremendous amount of support from my wife Laura. I took my combined experience and knowledge, of steel in particular, and put it into what had been a hobby thus far. And made them into tangible prototypes that we really thought were viable pieces for today’s marketplace.
2M: Laura do you have any creative background at all?
LH: Yeah I went to school for fashion design, so I’ve had 20 years in the clothing business. So that was my area working on the fabric and the cushions.
2M: Did you guys just have a calling toward outdoor furniture?
AS: You know, Laura and I both grew up in Southern California, born and raised. We have spent our youth, our childhood, doing outdoor activities and socializing and entertaining so we both have a tremendous amount of experience in environs that lend themselves to an outdoor lifestyle. And in Southern California, the indoor/outdoor existence gets blurred because we’re so fortunate with the weather and the scenery. So it was a natural step for me to kind of look at how we can enhance our own outdoor experience. And really the direct correlation is that we live and reside in a Mid-Century Modern home and I had a very difficult time trying to find outdoor furniture and accessories that went with the home. There’s a good resale market for vintage pieces out there but they’re tough to find and top dollar. And you know, why not design our own? We have an everyday consciousness toward sustainability, green type of lifestyle that we really try to instill in our peers and family. So we wanted to come up with a solution that was eco-sensitive but stylish at the same time. For us, the outdoor type of existence, the outdoor type of living and entertaining, was a practical way to start.
2M: Your designs are certainly modern, but you really have some details that are just so fresh looking. What are some of your sources of inspiration? Is it just Mid-Century or other things?
AS: We look at a lot of things. I mean Laura’s background in the fashion industry…Mid-Century obviously played a very large role in our original influences. But we wanted something that was more contemporary. So the Mid-Century stuff became a source of inspiration but we put our own skew and our own details and our own spin on maybe that aesthetic. And aimed high for some originality. We wanted stuff that was simple, functional, eco-sensitive obviously and fresh. And a sense of timelessness is also really important, because these pieces—one of the ideas behind them is to make sure they become heritage pieces or heirloom type items. They’re going to outlive the owner by a century easily. Just based on their material and construction. So we want these to be handed down and remain as stylish for the next generation as it is for today.
2M: You know I like that you say that, because I totally see these becoming high-priced, vintage finds that people are fighting over in the future.
AS: [laughs] You know it’s an asset investment. Again, our product is meant to last beyond a lifetime. That also goes to making sure that the materials we use are such that they’re going to last a long time, we’re going take stuff out of landfills, we’re going turn it into something that’s not going to go back into a landfill, that’s one hundred percent recyclable and are going to be quality pieces that are going to be around a long time.
2M: Let’s do a quick survey of all the products that you do have available right now.
AS: Well we launched the line with our Series 9, which you can see on our website, and that consists of a chair, a chaise, a side [table] and occasional table and, kind of what I would say is our most original, flagship product is the Sultan, which is a low, 8inch riser, which adds a more dignified spin on what you might consider a floor cushion. We brought that off the ground; it’s a seating element that can accommodate a couple of adults or a number of kids, and it becomes a great casual accessory, really indoor or out.
2M: Let’s get back to sustainability. I love what you’re saying about making something last…can you kind of get a little detailed into your materials or your finishes that you consider to be green?
AS: Oh there are a lot of things. And we really aimed for the complete package here. Our primary element or material is type 304 stainless steel. It’s interesting…I ask a lot of people in the marketplace to share with me what you think is the most recycled material in the United States today. And you know you hear a lot of folks say paper, aluminum, glass…but in fact if you took all the paper, aluminum and glass that’s recycled in the United States and combined it, it wouldn’t equal the amount of steel that’s recycled every year.
2M: Wow I didn’t know that.
AS: Stainless steel is all made in what’s called an electric arc furnace. It’s basically a giant crock pot where they put your old cars and refrigerators and microwaves and structural steel rebar or whatever…junk, scrap. They put it in there and they melt it, and add some chromium and some nickel and a few other elements. And they pump out stainless steel. So by its inherent nature it’s up to 95% recycled material. So that’s a big one. It keeps it out of landfills and it helps repurpose a lot of those every day items that we use.
You know Laura and I, in looking at that, we thought we had a really great solution: we’ve got a bullet-proof to the elements material, let’s powder coat it. And powder coating, unlike paint, uses no solvents and gives off very few if any volatile organic compounds (VOCS). And we recapture our overspray and use that on the products.
2M: Wow, really?
AS: Yeah the hardware solution is a great one. We didn’t want to stop there per se. Well we’re going come in here with a soft product, some cushions, fabric, foam, why shouldn’t that be as equally sensitive as the hardware? So, we were able to develop a relationship with a fabric manufacturer, Bella Dura. They use an actual industrial by-product from the petroleum to gasoline refining practice and they spin that into a solid and that’s how our fabric comes into being.
2M: Wow. Science guys, science. That’s amazing.
AS: [laughs] To a great extent, yeah. The fabric that we’ve used is anti-microbial, water resistant, 2500 hours of UV exposure without fading—and it’ll go longer, that’s just as long as they decided to test it for. So again, you have a bullet-proof fabric solution and we filled that with a product called bio-foam, which is a high-density foam of the memory class and it’s up to 40% vegetable oil-based. And the important thing really, one of the most important things, is that all these components are all one hundred percent recyclable. So, many of them are a cradle-to-cradle solution. So we really have, we think, a great solution for folks out there who want to make an impact in their immediate environment. And end up with a higher-end, nice, first-person-on-their-block furniture solution.
2M: You were just listening to the first part of the interview with the creative couple behind the modern outdoor furniture company, the Haskell Collection. For part two of our interview, be sure to check back to the blog at 2modern.com early next week. And as always, thanks for listening.