Forward-thinking furniture designer taps into Metaverse mania for brand building

Forward-thinking furniture designer taps into Metaverse mania for brand building

Tina Anthony

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Designers Today’s sister publication Furniture Today talked with Tina Nicole, co-founder, creative director and principal designer at Nathan Anthony based in California.

FT: The metaverse is gaining popularity, and you showcased a collection during April’s High Point Market where some products were available to purchase for the metaverse. What made you interested in making your products available for purchase with NFTs?

Tina:  At the April High Point Market, Nathan Anthony introduced an upscale dining chair and barstool collection called ÆTHR, which is the result of our collaboration with multimedia artist Sahara Novotna. Original artworks are featured on the chair backs.

The artist and I are both fascinated by news about decentralization and cryptocurrencies, so this informed our first art theme for the collection. Additionally, Sahara is enmeshed in the world of NFTs, which is more common today in the art trade. We thought it would be fun to bring this energy to the home furnishings space. The NFT development made sense for our brand, since Nathan Anthony is already known for merging art with design to create fresh looks in furniture.

FT: If you had to explain an NFT or the metaverse with three bullet points, what would you say?

Tina: The simplest description for NFTs  (non-fungible tokens) is that they are unique digital files that exist on the blockchain and cannot be replicated. Some NFT art has gotten a lot of attention, like Bored Ape (Bored Ape Yacht Club). NFTs can also be a digital creation of real-world items, like a dining chair. NFTs have financial value and can be traded on various platforms such as Opensea, Coinbase or Rarible.

The metaverse is a virtual world that is entirely digital and fully immersive, with or without VR hardware like the Oculus headset. You could purchase a virtual mansion through a metaverse real estate agent, for example, and decorate that space with virtual furniture, such as our ÆTHR bar stools (if you own one of the NFT files).

I know for some people this sounds a bit fantastic, but there is an audience for it. How this will play out in our industry is yet to be determined.

FT: Which do you think is more valuable to companies selling NFTs: the actual revenue from selling NFTs or the brand awareness that accompanies them?

Tina:  Good question; for Nathan Anthony, we viewed the initial NFT exercise as a branding tool, and being first to High Point Market with an NFT affords us some good PR. Eventually, there could be revenue opportunities, although it’s not our priority, and we can’t predict metaverse adoption rates.

FT: In your opinion, what opportunities are low-hanging fruit in the metaverse for retailers and manufacturers?

TIna:  I think the metaverse is a space to watch and observe at this stage. Future generations of digital natives may spend a lot of time in these worlds of their own creation. In the meantime, manufacturers and retailers need to sell physical products that go into physical spaces.

Digitally speaking, I think the low-hanging fruit for our industry is continuing adoption of existing tools for optimizing the user experience on websites, utilizing AR and VR to help the buyer visualize customization options, streamlining the process for purchases and improving direct marketing efforts through data analytics.

FT: What three tips might you give a company that is ready to start making its products available for the metaverse?

Sahara Novotna and Tina Anthony. Photo credit: Devin Stinson

Tina:  The metaverse is an alternative reality, and it’s still early in the game. Companies will want to do research and get to know the space before investing time and money. Brands should make sure they have an audience that’s ready for it.

Five fun facts about Tina Anthony:

  • Do you have a home in the metaverse? My husband and I don’t have imminent plans to purchase a home in the metaverse; it remains to be seen if our college-aged son will choose to own properties in this virtual world.
  • How would/does your virtual home differ from your physical home? I think of my son who currently lives in a dorm room at school. If he chose to spend time virtually in his dream home, what would that look like? It could be a virtual 48,000-square-foot modern house with its own movie theater, a jacuzzi pool with a lounge and a fire pit, a music studio, and a 700-square-foot walk-in closet for storing Nike Cryptokicks (virtual sneakers) in every color.
  • How do you relax when not working on all things Nathan Anthony? I like to keep my head in the real world, with four wheels on solid ground. I often spend weekends on race tracks or taking epic road trips around the Western states, driving my 2021 Porsche 718 Spyder Roadster with the Porsche Club of Los Angeles.
  • What is your favorite piece you have created for Nathan Anthony to date? The core competency for Nathan Anthony is full-scale customization options for our benchmade upholstery, so it’s difficult to select a favorite. The new dining chairs and barstools are very exciting to me, because they help us to develop a new product category.
    I personally had so much fun in the collaborative process with Sahara Novotna, and the Graffiti Doodle item is truly one-of-a-kind. Beyond the exclusive artwork, I’m very fond of the signature chair frame design that we created in-house, which is now available in our regular line.
  • What is one piece of life advice you like to live by? Take chances and be grateful, no matter the outcome.

See also:

Lauren Roses is Home Accents Today’s product editor, responsible for selecting and compiling product and trend stories, and for overseeing product submissions and coverage of intros and market debuts. Lauren studied at the University of Arizona and has lived in San Diego, California and New York City. Prior to joining Home Accents Today, she worked in marketing and project management for several prominent interior design and real estate professionals. In early 2018 Lauren moved back to her home state of North Carolina where she enjoys reading, animals, hiking and spending time with family.