Before Women Love Tech, I worked over 8 years as a Graphic/Web designer, I have a great respect and support for creative people. This is why I am excited to introduce you to Emma from My Bespoke Chair, a site where you can create your own custom designed chair. I love Emma’s work and those chairs are just divine!
Can you give us a little background on career to date?
I am a British/Dutch artist and designer with 14 years experience, having worked in both Europe and Australia. I graduated in 1996 with a BA(hons) in Fashion and Textile design from London and briefly worked in fashion PR. I moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1998 and turned to my first love – art. I worked from my home studio, exhibiting and creating paintings for the interior design market. In 2010, my family and I moved to Sydney where I set up a small art, fabric and upholstery design company called Bespoke Art.
Tell us about your site came to be.
At Bespoke Art, much of my income came from creating uniquely upholstered chairs for my clients. And I discovered that my clients really enjoyed being part of the design process. I knew that technology and the internet could streamline this process and give everyone the chance to design their perfect chair online.
Making the user experience fun and intuitive was a really key objective for me – I wanted to challenge the way we buy furniture online and the way we perceive traditional design environments. Why should professional studio-based designers have all the fun!? Given the right tools and framework, we can all design things how we like them. It’s called mass customisation or co-designing.
I want everyone to feel the joy of designing something themselves and say “I designed this.”
What makes you aim your site at women?
The vast majority of my clients, and followers on social media, are women. However, that’s not to say it’s a gender-specific product. Everyone likes cool chairs and men are just as inspired by interior design, but traditionally it’s us girls who get the most caught up in home decoration and making the final purchasing decision! When I go to industry or business events, that’s when men express how much they love the concept of My Bespoke Chair. They look at it from a different perspective, I think.
Have you met some major technology problem when you were creating your business?
The biggest hurdle in starting My Bespoke Chair was finding the right web developers. The design tool which allows for customisation of the chairs is not box-fresh and needed to be custom built from scratch. I spoke to several developers and nobody had created such a program before. And it was a very labour-intensive build, considering how many different interactive design elements had to be programmed in. They guys I went with are Sydney-based and were super-enthusiastic about the project, even though they had no experience in this type of build. I just instinctively knew that they were the right fit and we could get through the inevitable challenges smiling!
Would you call yourself a techno-savvy woman? and why?
Name 3 apps that you can’t live without.
Flashlight – just knowing it’s on my phone makes me feel safe. If there is a power-outage or I need to get up in the night, I don’t have to stumble around for a torch (which never has working batteries!)
4 Pics 1 Word – a great little wordplay game to while away dull moments in the school car-line or waiting for the kettle to boil. Keeps my brain ticking over!
Silver Service – a clean and tidy taxi with a smart driver arriving when I need it.
How do think technology is going to change the women’s life?
It will makes us feel a bit more stressed out! As if we don’t have enough to do in our multiple roles as business owners, mothers, domestic directors, wives, girlfriends and general caretakers. Technology means we can never escape and we’re always accountable or available! But on a serious note, I think technology has allowed everyone, not just women, to connect with people in ways unknown a few years ago; I get so much joy from technology and my online community. Technology exposes us to such an array of wonderful people, stories, ideas and education.
Thank you Emma and all the best with your inspiring site.