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After reading yesterday's Times article about Design Within Reach, we're pretty sure we know what's on the beleaguered furniture company's list of New Year's resolutions. Number one: Stop getting sued. In 2009, chair manufacturer Alan Heller and contemporary design line Blu Dot filed lawsuits against DWR for knocking off their work. Heller even believes that DWR's version of his chair is named the Alonzo as a sort of nasty tribute to him.
Which brings us to resolution number two: Build better relationships with designers. DWR's goal is to bring sleek modern design to American homes, but they can't do it without the help of today's best brands. In fact, their stores carried Heller and Blu Dot before they (at least allegedly) ripped them off.
Resolutions one and two might clash with resolution the third, however: Somehow, DWR needs to find a way to make money in an economy that's not particularly kind to expensive furniture stores. Even in its early, idealistic days, the company couldn't afford not to carry knockoffs. According to the NYT, though, the 2006 arrival of "uneven, dictatorial and extremely mercurial" CEO Ray Brunner exacerbated the situation and may have alienated workers and potential business allies.
This Monday, Brunner will be replaced by new CEO John Edelman, who promises that he'll end DWR's reliance on copies (although he does draw a distinction between knocking off classic modern pieces and being inspired by them.) Instead, Edelman plans to fix the bottom line by closing stores, improving the website, and "taking a close look" at Tools for Living, the company's Muji-esque secondary line. Sounds like he has his work cut out for him in 2010.
· Is a Solution Within Reach? [NYT]
· Now Open: DWR Gives Soho Tools For Living [Racked]