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Rooms by You

by Evan Orensten in Design on 16 October 2009

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Customization and social shopping meet home interiors with Rooms by You, an exciting new online resource for soft goods. Baby rooms just launched first, but there are items that can suit most any room or office.

Rooms are created in various styles, all with white objects. Simply select an object—a pillow or a storage box or a curtain—and apply the pattern of your choice. (You'll soon be able to upload your own images or artwork.) You can save and share your designs with friends and family (who can provide feedback on your design), and even set up a gift registry.

We sat down with Rooms by You founder Jon Leafstedt for a tour of the site and a preview of upcoming releases. Here's what he had to say:

Cool Hunting: How did your previous work lead you to create Rooms By You?
Jon Leafstedt: Prior to launching Rooms by You, I ran a division of design and merchandising for Williams-Sonoma and before that, I ran a division of retail for Nike. I loved the on-demand customization work that was going on at Nike and it was nearly nonexistent in the home textile/interior design world.

How has technology make Rooms By You possible?
Top secret! We have cracked the code on several levels and we’ve filed a patent not only on the process, but also the code. I’m working with a brilliant team of developers who wrote the features and functionality of our Flash and Flex application from scratch—lots of very long nights.

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What about social media? How does sharing play a role in the design or purchase process?
Leveraging social media is integral to how retailers interact and collaborate with their core customer. Today, most retailers struggle to remain relevant as they fight it out with price wars in a world that’s highly commoditized. My sense is that most retailers would love to dedicate more time harnessing the power of social media, but battling the recession has made that difficult.

At Rooms by You, we allow folks to co-create rooms together. We provide the tools to customize home textiles on-demand and to realize visually an interior design experience that’s easy to translate into any home. A community of friends and family can enter our 3-D Room Customizer to customize home textile products. They can create rooms, save rooms and then share their rooms with friends and family. Friends can then re-engage a saved room that was sent to them, modify the room with comments and then share the room all over again.

Rooms by You launched with BabyRooms. We believed that new moms would want to share the nursery that they created with their community of friends as part of their baby registry and possible baby shower. We’ll launch with TeenRooms before the holidays. Again, we believed that tweens and teens would enjoy co-creating rooms together—both friends and mom and dad. Following TeenRooms, we'll launch with KidsRooms.

What role does design play in the service and the products?
Interior design can be intimidating. Visualizing a finished room can be difficult for a lot of folks. Part of what makes a room come together are the textiles of the room; what we call soft-scaping. Soft-scaping typically involves color, prints and patterns. Bringing it all together in a coordinated fashion can be overwhelming. Our tools allow you to enter a room staged with furniture and all white textiles: bed linens, wall art, lamp shades, curtain panels, etc. We then provide over 80 collections of coordinated surface pattern design that users can drag and drop in any configuration that they choose into all of the textile related products in the room. They can even paint the walls a coordinating color. When users are finished with this "cross-merchandising event," they can truly visualize what their own room at home will look like. Once they check-out and have made their purchase, we manufacture everything on-demand in San Francisco. We see the combination of doing interior design on-demand, visualizing in 3-D a finished room and manufacturing on-demand in 18 days for a party-of-one as the ultimate form of service.

Most retailers decide what's best for the customer. At Rooms by You, customers tell us what works best for them. It's for them, by them and we do it with them every step of the way. Soon, users will be able to upload their own artwork or that of their child's on any textile product found in the home. Customers will have the choice to use our curated artwork, or use their own. That's customer service.

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Your first room is for babies, though many of the items can be used anywhere. What other rooms are you launching, and when?
We will launch TeenRooms during the holidays and follow a few months later with KidsRooms. We’ll also be throwing in products along the way like dog beds and shower curtains. By spring we’ll focus on “one room living” for young adults heading off to college or first-studios after school. Our goal is to build relationships with mom’s and cover cradle-to-college in phase one. Phase two will take us into adult BedRooms, LivingRooms, DiningRooms, OfficeRooms and KitchenRooms.

Uploading your own art is something that really excites us. When will this be available?
For the holidays. We're prioritizing right now between launching TeenRooms and Uploading Your Own Artwork. The to-do list keeps growing. It's frustrating, but I guess that means the scalable opportunities are very exciting. It keeps us motivated.

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