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Campaign's Portable Furniture

Made-in-USA couches that are easy to assemble and reassemble, and meant to last a lifetime

by Nara Shin
on 26 August 2015

City residents know that the greatest mental toll of moving isn't always packing up your life into cardboard boxes; it's leaving perfectly good furniture behind—either because it's a hassle or too costly to transport, or it won't survive another disassembly and reassembly. When shopping for new furniture, a growing number of people living transitional lifestyles aren't finding the available options so attractive in quality, price or delivery times. Giving careful attention to all of the above, Campaign launches today to offer strong, beautifully designed couches that you can assemble at home, without tools—and pretty much keep on disassembling and assembling as long as you live.

"Furniture hasn't caught up to the web yet—because the product wasn't really designed for it," founder Brad Sewell tells CH. "When a sofa leaves a factory, it's kind of stuck with two men and a delivery truck its entire life. The burden's [on] us to pay for it, to get it to us and even deal with after it's in our space. That's where the roots of Campaign started getting planted—around the idea of high-quality, portable furniture."

Sewell is an interesting specimen: the 28-year-old went from working as a vehicle research engineer and exterior design engineer at Honda to making crash test dummies in Detroit, to zooming in on iPhone and iPad enclosures at Apple for two years as a manufacturing design engineer (one of the few who actually reported regularly to Jony Ive's chambers, hand-delivering prototypes). Sewell left the world of automobiles and consumer tech products, moving from San Francisco to a tiny apartment in Boston to think about the next opportunity—while taking finance and accounting courses for the first time at Harvard Business School. Funnily enough, this is when he fell into furniture.

"The shopping experience was terrible," he recalls, on furnishing his small space. "There weren't really any big brands that you could trust. The prices were outrageous and the shipping lead times were forever. Anything you wanted custom was going to take eight to 12 weeks and it was going to cost you an arm and a leg." Sewell continues, "There was a super-high bar for quality that I had when I was at Apple, where we were making decisions on product features that aren't visible by the human eye. And then you have the furniture industry, which is much less intense in its attention to detail. But you have your IKEAs of the world and then not much else in between, until you get up to your CB2s and West Elms, and then super-high-end pieces." Armed with an exciting idea, Sewell dropped out of HBS after his first year to pursue it.

A few years later, we saw the results before our eyes during a personal demo of the Campaign chair being assembled (and then disassembled), without any tools. It's simple as inserting a square peg into a square hole. The internal frame of each Campaign piece is laser cut steel, and the cover is designed to be removable via Velcro strips—meaning you can easily spot clean. Furthermore, understanding that foam breaks down over time, after regular use (it's the nature of the material), Sewell has designed the foam to be laminated to the fabric, so when you pull the cover off, you're left with a raw steel frame. And when you purchase just a new cover (with new foam attached), it's like you've got a brand new couch again. This is especially enticing when thinking about the resale value of the furniture; it's easy for the new owner to change the color or rejuvenate the piece down the road.

Sewell points out that cheaper self-assembly furniture uses dowels pushed into the MDF, which conforms around the dowels. This is great for one-time assembly, but not so great for any times more than that—which explains why reassembled furniture often oftentimes doesn't make it far in its second or third life. Campaign's steel frames are meant to last a lifetime and they're manufactured in Emeryville, CA—cutting shipping time to days.

It's details like these, thanks to Sewell's experience in manufacturing design, that make Campaign's user experience beautiful, simple and functional. It's a true differentiator in the furniture industry, and not simply another start-up that's repackaging the same product in a sexy way. Dreams down the road include more customization options and expanding to essentials like dining room tables and chairs, coffee tables, bed frames and more—and of course, full-grain leather sofas.

Campaign launches online today with a chair (which is notably quite roomy), a love seat and three-seater couch; select from five different colorways and either black walnut or maple legs. Pre-orders will begin shipping November 2015, and delivery is free.

Last two images by Cool Hunting, all others courtesy of Campaign

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