Fab's Next Life: Private Label
Backing young designers and releasing an extensive in-house collection
It's been a wild ride since Fab first launched just under three years ago. After the flash-sale business model gave way to rapid expansion and subsequent shrinkage, pushing the brand identity through a couple questionable phases—and more importantly, individual's hands—the design-minded outlet is back on solid ground. With an impressive line of private label furnishings designed in-house and by an ever-growing roster of emerging designers, Fab is now firmly focused on a new future. We recently had the chance to visit their SoHo showroom, which opens tomorrow, 15 May 2014, to coincide with ICFF and NYCxDesign. In addition to "Happy Modern" (the ongoing event introducing 40+ private label designs), the Wooster Street space will also host a young designer showcase entitled "First Things First," curated by Fab's new Senior VP of Design Kiel Mead (formerly of the AmDC).
Heading up the internal design team is Evan Clabots, SVP of Product Design. Though somewhat burly in person, the products he creates are anything but heavy-handed—and that goes for his eye for design as well. The line exceeds 40 products, from seating and lighting to rugs and even scarves. While Clabots and his team of four designed a majority of the more substantial pieces, Fab tapped a variety of highly-skilled emerging designers to contribute unique statement pieces as well. "Private label is going to be a major focus of Fab moving forward. Starting with sofas—the building blocks you style the room around—and moving down into basics and smaller, more special things," Clabots tells CH.
From the Tri Light by Australian designer Aaron Leahy (who was approached after Fab found his design during ICFF 2013) to the Stick Coat Rack and Colt Stool from Issac Krady, we see Fab's mission of connecting the greater design community to relatively unknown designers in action. By working with emerging designers Fab gains products to sell, but it's also a huge opportunity for many inexperienced creatives. The private label partnership brings products to market that may otherwise be left in concept phase at affordable prices, which frees up designers to continue working, rather than packing boxes to fulfill orders on their own.
While our opportunity to peruse the collection was brief, the collection is noteworthy in quality and aesthetic, especially considering prices—sofas start at $800, rugs $99 and lighting around $49. Even the handsome Nordic-inspired Gather table and chairs by Clabots and fellow in-house designer James Ian Killinger sells for around $1,000.
The ecosystem (as Fab calls their interaction with external designers) will engage with the design community through a series of group shows and open calls. As the man in charge of raising awareness and connecting with this community—and preaching legitimacy—Mead explains, Fab aims to "always give designers opportunities to design." From these shows and opportunities, Mead and Fab hope to find new talent to bring in, offering the designer a chance to bring their prototype to market by way of the private label.
Opening tomorrow and running through 20 May 2014, the first Fab showcase is the aptly named "First Things First," which prompted designers to imagine what the first product they'd bring into their first home would be. With nearly 50 designers selected from hundreds of submissions, the show is certainly worth a look.
For more information on the "Happy Modern" private label showroom and "First Things First" exhibition visit NYCxDesign, or visit the 151 Wooster St location.
Images by Graham Hiemstra