Many years ago, I met Tobi in New York City where we were both attending a “business of design” consulting group. From the minute we met, we were friends and I knew there were many fun times in store for the two of us. And that has indeed proved to be true! One of the most lovely things about being an interior designer is making lifelong friendships with others in the design profession. And one of the most lovely things about Tobi is her true interest in uplifting and helping other design professionals. Several years after we met, I wrote The Collected Tabletop. Tobi was so very supportive of my book and was such a great help in its promotion. I think all designers are masters at “multi-tasking” and no matter how many things Tobi has going on or how busy she is, she always has time to help and encourage other designers. So today, I would like to honor Tobi’s outstanding achievement …her new furniture collection with C. R. Laine!
A few weeks ago, Tobi, her mother…aka Bebe, her daughter, and her niece came to visit me at Chestnut Cottage. Tobi was scheduled to go to C.R. Laine and see the manifestation of her creative mind and make certain that everything was perfect with the manufacturing of her pieces. So I had the pleasure of a sneak preview of her pieces, and had much to look forward to as I arrived at High Point Market last week. And of course, I was not disappointed. Our passion for design is the same and I am SO proud of her new collection!
So come along with me as Tobi shares insight into her new collection and working with C.R. Laine…
Kathryn: What was your primary source of inspiration for this furniture collection?
Tobi: My starting point for creating furniture pieces for CR Laine was to design things that I have difficulty finding for my own design jobs like a bench that fits at the foot of a king-sized bed, or a great wing chair, or a gorgeous but functional daybed. And I extended my approach to designing pieces that I thought were missing from the CR Laine line-up of products. That way I could bring some unique pieces to both the retailers and design customers that weren’t already a CR Laine customer and then also to fill the voids for CR Laine’s existing customers who were looking for a bit more in the way of designer details.
Kathryn: What is your favorite piece in the collection?
Tobi: It’s so hard to choose. I am so proud of all the pieces; I think they are both comfortable and beautiful. But if I had to narrow it down, I would say the Beverly bench is at the top particularly in the blush-colored leather I showed it in at market. And barely in second place is the Marguerite armless sofa with starburst nailhead trim and Lucite legs. It’s so glam!
Kathryn: What inspired your color choices for the collection?
Tobi: Well as you know, I am known for my use of bright and bold colors. When creating this collection and displaying it in the showroom, I created 3 distinct color personalities—“City Sophisticate”, “Blushing Beauty”, and “Drama Queen”. So the city style was based on classic blue and white with a twist of mint thrown in to mix things up a bit. The blush story was based on the fact that I believe blush is coming on strong as a “new” neutral and to keep it fresh I paired it with Citron which was resulted in a very sophisticated combination. And finally I brought drama with Orange and Magenta. Orange has always been one of my favorite colors but since I love creative unique color palettes that you don’t see every day. I paired it with Magenta and Gray to tone it down a bit and keep it looking expensive and chic.
Kathryn: How did you decide on which type of pieces to include in the collection (chairs, ottomans, dining chairs, etc.)
Tobi: Again, I started by making what I thought was missing in the market, but then I made sure our first collection (which was 17 pieces) was well-rounded. So we have 2 sofas and a sectional with an optional chaise, a daybed, 2 dining chairs, a lounge chair, a slipper chair, a wing chair, an oversized chaise lounge, an armless sofa (or banquette), a long bench, a small ottoman, an upholstered bed, a folding screen, and an upholstered side table.
I felt like this mix for our first launch not only filled a lot of different needs but also helped me bring a lot of variety in scale and style.
Kathryn: How do you hope other designers will be inspired to use your collection in their work?
Tobi: I hope designers appreciate all the little details that I incorporated that are unique and that only a designer’s eye can create and understand. I think they will “get” my point of view because I am speaking their language. And I know their customers will love the comfort of CR Laine. But my favorite part of this process will be when I see other designers making my pieces their own by unique combinations of finishes and fabrics and optional details like using Lucite legs and nailheads to make their own statement. That’s going to be so much fun!
Kathryn: How was it to work with C.R. Laine on this collaboration?
Tobi: There’s no one I would rather work with! Many people have asked me how to pick the right partner or what makes a great collaboration and my answer is always the same—relationships. CR Laine is a family-owned business that has been creating great furniture for more than 50 years. And CR Laine treats all their employees, team members, and partners like me as part of the family. Plus they are SO knowledgeable about making top quality and very comfortable furniture with style. I worked so closely with many of their team members including Warren Frye, CR Laine’s President, who drew several of my furniture pieces himself. He is a wealth of knowledge and experience! I have worked with the PR team, the design team, the installation team, the finishing department, the customer service department, I have literally experienced every single part of the company and I find the same thing with each experience…good, kind, and honest people who love their job and know their product! What more could you ask for in a partnership. I think nothing. In fact when they asked me how I thought our launch week was, my answer was whole-heartedly this…“It was perfect, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!”
Click here to learn more about C.R. Laine!
Wow Tobi, all of your late nights, early mornings, and everything in between have finally come to this beautiful collection and no one is more proud of you than me!
You are a very lucky girl to have the constant love and support of this beautiful and wonderful woman! And she is sitting in my favorite piece in your collection…the Wells chair!
And if you are ever considering denying this doll…Don’t…she is definitely a “Tobi clone”!!
So Tobi…lie back and just bask in the glory of your hard work…!
I will close by saying that Tobi ALWAYS makes me laugh and we have what one might call an “irreverent” but endearing relationship. So…the first reader who knows Tobi’s name for me , will win a signed copy of The Collected Tabletop! And by the way Cheminne…you are disqualified!