December 18, 2016
Q&A with Designer Bobby Berk of the Eponymous company, Bobby Berk Home
Bobby Berk talks about his original eponymous home decor shop, a constant and growing love affair with design, and his current collaboration with Leftbank Art.
by New York Spaces
NYS: How did you get your start in design?
Bobby Berk: I was first inspired by the Richard Graves collection for target as a young kid from Missouri. Before this, I had no real exposure to design where I was from, so to see something designed beautifully for the masses was inspiring to me. It sounds silly, but I didn't know common items could be made beautifully and injected with real style, and that really made an impression on me.
As an adult, I began working in visual merchandising in the retail fashion world. My chance to get into home design was my first job in NYC managing the Restoration Hardware, and then eventually landed the at Portico Home as Creative Director. Portico is a super chic home decor brand with stores across the US. While there I also designed a Portico branded spa line that ended up being carried in Hyatt Hotels for years. I learned a lot while at Portico across many fields including retail, manufacturing, interior design and product design. I took what I learned there and decided to launch Bobby Berk Home where I opened stores in NYC, Miami, Atlanta and LA.
NYS: We loved your New York shop... what made you decide to close it?
Bobby Berk: My NYC store was always my baby. Not only was it my first store, but it was also in the city that made me what I am today, so closing it was very bittersweet for me. The decision to close this store as well as the others came for a number of reasons. Having a store in SoHo allowed me to quickly elevate my brand to a national level which opened the doors for me to start designing my own collections for manufactures and other retailers including Target. With four stores, my life became consumed with the operations of running a retail company and I no longer had any time to design which at the end of the day is what makes me the happiest. Couple that with being away from home 80% of the time and that our lease renewing for five times more than what we were paying due to the corporate retail takeover of NYC, and it became an easier decision. Closing the stores has now allowed me to fully focus on my product and interior design divisions, which are expanding the brand into what I always envisioned it. It was a hard choice, but absolutely the right one!
NYS: Where can consumers who love your products find your brand now?
Bobby Berk: You can find my collections in a lot of different places these days. My wallpaper is carried on Target.com as well as dozens of other retailers around the US and Nitori department stores in Japan. My other products such as art, rugs, pillows, tile, and soon to be lighting are also carried at major retailers and boutique shops across the US. You can also find my full collections at www.bobbyberkhome.com and www.AllModern.com
NYS: How would you describe your brand to someone who is not familiar with it?
Bobby Berk: I've traditionally been a fan of midcentury inspired pieces with a contemporary twist. I tend to lean toward minimalism, but with a bit of a cheeky and youthful fun energy. I like pops if vibrant color, but there is usually a bit of restrain to my designs. I'm not necessarily one to go crazy with pattern and print. I like to let certain select elements be the star. But I've also been gravitating towards different styles as I've been tasked with designing homes for my builder clients. It's fun to change it up and do Spanish modern, farmhouse, contemporary-chic, and of course mid-century design.
NYS: As a celebrity designer, what are some of your go-to resources?
Bobby Berk: I am always shopping the design shows at High Point Market, ICFF, Maison & Objet, Salone del Mobile Milano and more. I really love being able to meet with other designers and manufactures to see the latest trends and collections before they hit the mass markets.
NYS: We have always loved your designs, so we were floored to realized you were also an artist! How did you decide to offer your exclusive art collection at the Leftbank art showroom in the New York Design Center?
Bobby Berk: My collaboration with Leftbank happened very organically. The owner, Chris, was talking to me at a show and I'd done some art on my iPad, so I showed him some of my conceptual sketches, and he said, let's do a collaboration. It's been a ton of fun putting together pieces for Leftbank.
NYS: What does the Bobby Berk art collection look like?
Bobby Berk: I tend to love graphic and simple geometric art and prints. I like non-traditional colorways and gravitate toward things that are abstract yet impactful. You can see the entire collection online by visiting my site, Leftbanks or Allmodern.com
NYS: Why did you decide to cater to the trade?
Bobby Berk: I wouldn't actually say that we cater just to the trade, as my collections are definitely designed for the masses. We do though prefer to launch our collections at to-the-trade shows and events as we love to not only give designers "first dibs" on what we've been working on, but it also allows us to get feedback from like-minded designs who we love and respect. I have some major collections coming up though across a few categories such as lighting that will launch directly to the consumer with some pretty major retailers, which I'm really excited about.
*Interested in more articles like this? Sign up for our Newsletter!