Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Photos courtesy of Carolina George

Everyone knows furniture has to look good, but the best designers come up with furniture that functions. This thought was the genesis of a new furniture line that will launch next week at the NY Gift Show. Called Carolina George after its two owners, Georgia T. Howe and Caroline Rafferty, their pieces were designed for young urban dwellers, first time home buyers, and young parents who have left the city to raise a family.

The collection consists of furniture designed to work for apartment living and to convert to function in a variety of ways, maximizing form and function in tight spaces. Each piece has a reason for being, often inspired by vintage finds, like a bookshelf that could turn into a dining table for a spontaneous dinner party. Handcrafted in a U.S., their pieces are available in a variety of high gloss colors.

I had the pleasure of working with Georgia and Caroline on their brand in it's early stages. Georgia has been running her shop in Soho, Georgia Tapert Living, where the pieces had a soft launch. The Gift Show will be their grand entrance, visit them at Booth # 40047 at the New York International Gift Fair, August 14 - 18 at Pier 94, and tell them Stylebeat sent you! I am thrilled to share their debut with you.

What is the best part about starting your own company?

Georgia T. Howe: Seeing the years of brainstorming and talking becoming a reality. Having a new piece come out of production, seeing it for the first time

Caroline Rafferty: The creative aspect is one of my favorite parts but I also enjoy the day to day tasks of starting a business. I feel like we have learned so much in a short time and I have a huge amount of respect for those who have done this before. It isn’t as easy as it seems!!

What has been the biggest challenge?

GH: Balancing out design business with the furniture business and making sure nothing gets overlooked. Also the fact that we are very old friends and sometimes we have to remind ourselves to focus and when we are having too much fun!

CR: One of the biggest challenges on the business side is that we have to consider everything in an organized way with so many moving parts--suppliers, warehousing and stocking.

What is your favorite part about having a design partner?

GH: Learning from each other and being able to bounce ideas of one another. We both have our strengths that we bring, I don't think we fully realized what they were when we began working together. We make a really great team.

CR: I second that I think we balance each other out in a lot of ways. I have learned a lot from Georgia and her personal and home style help pull everything together.

What furnishings have people really responded to so far?

GH: People love the School Girl Desk because it is unlike anything they have seen before. They also go crazy for the vanity because it is really useful. We are excited about some of the pieces we are unveiling at the gift show that I think people are really going to love.

CR: Overall the response has been amazing. We often hear from people that our pieces are unlike anything they have ever seen before. That is the best feedback for us, to know that we are offering a fresh perspective is and sensibility is really exciting.

Where does your next design inspiration come from?

Lots of travel. Caroline will be in Turkey and I am going to Paris in September.

Oh So Vanity in red lacquer converts from a desk to a dressing table in the blink of an eye

Ta da! The piece opens. A mirror appears with customizable storage options.

The Bibliofile's Dining Table in cerused oak with a removable top...

has storage below

The Table Chair with pull out shelves for a drink or book.

The Schoolgirl Desk design was influenced by an 18th Century desk Caroline had in her childhood bedroom. It fuses a seat and a desk in one.

The Sideboard Dining Table closed as a bookshelf...

It transforms into a dining table

The School Chair Dining can be a side chair or around a dining table

The Pendulum Console goes from a tailored table to a desk with the flick of the wrist. Shown with The School Girl Dining Chair in white

The Barrel Side Chair in black with an enveloping curved back and tapered leg.

The Accordian Directors Chair becomes a bench for three. Wouldn't it be great outside? Bring it to polo matches or school games in the fall.

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