Q&A with Charlie Miner and John Neamonitis, co-founders of WorkOf
WantedDesign and WorkOf started their partnership last May, during NYCxDESIGN at Industry City, Brooklyn. This week, January 19-25, during the Toronto Offsite Design Festival, they co-selected seven design studios from New York City for the “Outside the Box” program. Learn more about the vision of Charlie Miner and John Neamonitis, co-founders of WorkOf. More
How do you describe the WorkOf platform?
WorkOf is a marketplace for exceptional furniture, lighting and home goods from independent designers and makers. We exist so that professional creators can showcase their work and connect with a broader audience of buyers. We like to think of it as a year-round digital design show. We spent a lot of time attending design shows and found that after the shows were over, there wasn’t an easy way to find or connect with many of designers and makers we’d met. So, our goal was to create a parallel online experience and make it accessible to more people and all year long.
How would you define this first year of WorkOf?
It’s really been an incredible first year for us. There have been so many highlights, but the live events are always particularly special. From our launch party almost a year ago to our collaboration with WantedDesign during Design Week, the live events have provided an opportunity for the community to come together and for buyers to meet the people behind the products. While our platform is digital, we always felt it was important that people come out from their workshops and studios and connect in person.
Is there a growing interest in buying original, unique, and hand-made products?
Absolutely. There is an honesty and transparency creeping into the way consumers are shopping. Consumers are asking more questions about the products they buy and are looking to make more meaningful connections with the things they bring into their lives.
What are the criteria in selecting the products? Are you guided by a particular style, or design approach, or manufacturing typology?
We try not to curate based on a particular style or genre, but there is an element of editing that goes into selecting designers and products for the website. We screen on quality and craftsmanship, the originality of design, and photography. We also make it clear that WorkOf isn’t for hobbyists. It’s a place for professional, skilled designers and makers — and that’s something that differentiates us from some of the other websites in the market right now.
Who are WorkOf’s customers? Are they mainly from the New York area? Are they private shoppers or Interior Designers? Are you helping them in finding the right furniture or do you have customers who know what they are looking for?
Our customer base has been really mixed — we’ve worked with private buyers furnishing city apartments or second homes to larger buyers purchasing for commercial or retail spaces. But interior designers were the initial user we created the marketplace for. We wanted to make it easier for them to shop a variety of emerging independent designers and makers all from one shopping cart.
What define for you “New York/Brooklyn made”, versus San Francisco or Seattle made products? You are helping in creating this community of designers/makers that is now accessible by a large audience; is it something you think was missing in New York?
Brooklyn has become recognized globally as something of a brand. It’s a center for food, art and design and that’s nothing new. It’s where we started WorkOf and we are extremely lucky to have so many talented designers and makers right in our backyard. But Brooklyn is one city in a long list across the US and world that is experiencing an incredible explosion of creative talent and energy. And for sure, we started WorkOf because we felt that there an unmet need — a platform to help independent artists showcase their work.
What is WorkOf’s next step?
We spent a good part of the past year traveling and visiting other cities across the US to meet with both established and upcoming designers. The growth in the Brooklyn and New York design community is also being experienced in other cities across the US and around the world. So, it’s no secret that we plan on building on what we’ve started here in New York and expanding throughout the US in 2015 and, globally beyond that.
www.workof.com ( Photos : Emily Johnston).