Project Decor, a Virtual Design Center, Opens for Business
WITH booming e-commerce and the proliferation of showrooms that encourage anyone to wander in off the street, design is so closely within reach that the average shopper doesn’t have to extend an arm. But just because consumers have grown more autonomous doesn’t mean they have the experience and taste to dispense with advisers and friends. And where’s the fun in filling a digital shopping cart all by yourself?
Project Décor, a Web site that opened for business on Monday, combines e-commerce and social media to create a virtual, democratic design center. Founded by a trio of entrepreneurs — Andy Appelbaum, Cliff Sirlin and Aaron Wallace — the site lets visitors drag and drop products from 50 international design brands onto an inspiration board or a photo of an existing room and solicit responses from a decorator, family member, respected friend or benevolent stranger. (The boards can be shared on the Project Décor site or on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.)
Products may be searched by category (like lamps), manufacturer (like Artecnica), color (like orange) or genre (children’s furniture) or picked up from the boards of professional designers like Campion Platt, who have been invited to create vignettes.
Any of the 5,000-plus items can be bought on the spot. The e-commerce model also allows shoppers access to goods off the beaten path — offerings by obscure young companies, exotic international labels and even contract furniture companies like Bernhardt Design that have never marketed directly to consumers until now. Brooke Stoddard, the site’s creative director, said she expected more than 100 brands to be on the site by the end of the year.
Visitors, who are encouraged to form “teams” to trade decorating ideas and follow “friends,” may be tempted to use Project Décor strictly for entertainment. Ms. Stoddard described the site as a “creative platform overlaid with a fertile social landscape.” It’s a place to hang out and covet, less snooty than a showroom, more intimate than a mall and filled with the kind of inspiration that used to be torn from shelter magazines before so many of them went the way of the fainting couch.
- JULIE LASKY of the New York Times