Designer: Shawn Sowers Link: www.commonhousefurniture.com Location: Perrysburg, OH
"This is the philosophy behind Commonhouse. It began on the side in 2005 while I was a product designer in the consumer electronics industry. I grew up in an Amish and Mennonite community and I realized I had all the resources back where I grew up in Indiana to launch a solid wood modern furniture brand of my own. I got into design to design furniture, but it was such a small and difficult industry to break into. But I had a break through moment and realized I had all the resources I needed to launch my own brand of solid wood modern furniture. I grew up in an Amish and Mennonite community and I began contacting Amish and Mennonite furniture makers from where I grew up, hoping to make a connection with someone that would join me in the venture. I started with a dining chair that took the next few years to develop and refine both the product and the process. Working with Amish in Indiana while I was in North Carolina was difficult but we were able to get our first piece completed, but we had a hard time keeping the momentum going as we both had our own full time jobs. I was laid off in 2009 and I decided that being laid off was going to be my opportunity in disguise, and I focused my efforts during that time to get Commonhouse off the ground. Fourteen months later I landed a full time position designing RTA furniture full time, but I've been able to maintain my momentum on the side with Commonhouse. My plan has always been to go to ICFF, and finally I am going to launch at ICFF in 2012."