Most celebrities are pretty, and their good looks are used to sell lots of things including furniture. Consider supermodels Cindy Crawford (casual/traditional) and Kathy Ireland (affordable), former beauty queen Martha Stewart (New England style), Justin Timberlake (modern/edgy), Brooke Shields (comfortable La-Z-Boy), and now heartthrob Brad Pitt (expensive art deco). Furniture manufacturing is a lucrative business. Beauty goes only so far, though: it’s not Warren Beatty but the studiously unglamorous Warren Buffett whose Berkshire Hathaway owns retailing operations that include four furniture chains and reported a 4.9% increase in sales last quarter.
For those against the idea of lining the already deep pockets of celebrities (pretty or not–Donald Trump has a line, too) and the mass market brands they’re attached to, there are alternatives. Local artisans and sustainable furniture companies are producing groundbreaking handmade furniture–even if a relative few are paying attention. Each piece is unique. Winners of the Groovystuff student competition this year included a rocking chair that reclines into a leisure chair and a coffee table made out of a teak xylophone. The pieces themselves are pretty and functional inside and out, like the students and artisans themselves, no doubt. Still, Kathy Ireland is worth almost half-a-billion bucks, most of which she earned while fully clothed. People really like her, it seems. And when it comes to furniture she does what people like Buffett–taking an old cue from Broadway producers–are looking for: she puts asses in the seats.
(Photo of Brad Pitt: Courtesy of Pollaro Custom Furniture for Architectural Digest)