Launched in Sheffield in 2002 Nest.co.uk is both a shop and a website and could be considered something of a pioneer of internet-based interiors shopping. Back in the early 2000s very little design was sold online in fact ‘design’ wasn’t really a word that had hit the mainstream quite like it has now. So founder and managing director Christian Hawley bet on a winner.
In the past 12 years he has seen his business grow to a point where his website holds 15,000 stock options, which in layman’s terms means it could be one chair, but in five colours. They don’t keep all of that in stock, just the popular items, and a lot of the bigger items, such as oak dining tables, will be made to order. They mainly sell high end classic design - no fakes! - from the likes of Vitra, Artek, Fritz Hansen, Muuto and Hay. But they are increasingly taking on new talent such as French brand Le Chance and the New Zealand-based Resident, as well as supporting British talent like Miller Goodman. Their biggest sellers are the Eames DSW chairs in white and the Uten.silo wall organiser.
In the past two or three years they have seen more interest locally - the fact John Lewis are now stocking more modern with a capital ‘M’ furniture in their stores has helped - customers who come in now are familiar with brands like Kartell. Their new 1,500 square foot showroom (designed by Kiwi & Pom) opened on the outskirts of Sheffield last December, but London remains their biggest online market. And to cap it all they cite the high priestess of designer life-styling The Conran Shop as their biggest rival. Not bad going.
Who are you? Christian Hawley, founder and Managing Director of Nest.co.uk
Where can we find you? We have a showroom and shop located in Sheffield’s vibrant outskirts at 9 Parkway Rise, Sheffield S9 4WQ. But, you can shop online 24 hours a day at www.nest.co.uk
Describe your store in five words: Contemporary, aspirational, creative, friendly and fun.
What makes you different? We truly believe we are the world’s best modern interiors store. We work hard to source the latest up-and-coming designers and brands, and we’re always on the lookout for new items we think our valued customers will like. We believe it is this dedication to new design that sets us apart from our competitors.
How you decide what makes the cut? Quality – we really just do not compromise on this. If we are to stock and support a product, we really have to believe in the product, and quality is the over-riding factor in this. Nothing short of perfection makes it to the Nest.co.uk shop!
What were you doing before you did this? I founded a number a small businesses before I set up Nest.co.uk. I have always had a keen interest and passion for design though, so I suppose I always knew I would end up working in this field.
If you were starting again what advice would you give yourself? Just get started. There really is never a perfect time for anything. I truly believe that to get ahead in life, you just need to begin, and go from there.
What are you most proud of? Nest.co.uk was one of the earliest adopters of online retail within our field. In fact, we have been trading over the internet for over 12 years and it is this experience that has allowed us to develop and grow in the international market. So I would say that I am proud of establishing ourselves in the ecommerce industry at such an early stage – it really has made us who we are.
Do you have a favourite thing in the store right now? I particularly love the Vinge Table Lamp from Swedish lighting specialists Örsjö. I love its structured simplicity. Plus, it has a wonderfully tactile ‘slide’ switch which really makes using the product enjoyable. It’s a classic in the making.
What's hot for 2014? There are so many up-and-coming designers and brands right now that it’s hard to choose just one. Having said that, the brand I am really excited about at the moment is Hay. They are always creating new and exciting products year-on-year, and always have a fresh perspective. Keep an eye out for their latest addition of colourful accessories landing at Nest.co.uk very soon.
Every Wednesday 'Indie of the week' celebrates the best independent stores around. These places sell interesting and varied collections of design-related things you don't see everywhere else. They may support young or local designers or be great at finding unique things from around the world. By thinking a little more creatively about what they stock they are fighting the bland homogenisation of so much of the high street. And since I'm down with the realities of modern life, online only stores count too, because a beautiful and easy to use website is just as delightful an encounter in cyberspace.
Do you you have a favourite store? I'd love to hear from you.