Monday, September 20, 2010

Style Talk: Laurie Furber, Pottery Barn

Laurie Furber, Pottery Barn

Yesterday, during my weekend errands, I took a walk into Pottery Barn in San Francisco's Marina district.  One step into the store, and I was completely transported into a warm and cozy atmosphere that truly celebrated the essence of the Fall season.

The visit was in anticipation of today's Style Talk interview with Pottery Barn Senior Vice President of Merchandising, Laurie Furber.  Laurie manages the Pottery Barn catalog and has stopped by today to give us the details on Pottery Barn's design philosophy and what's in store for Fall.

pottery barn fall

Please tell us about your role at Pottery Barn?  

My team and I build each season’s assortment from a combination of beautiful products created by our product development team and inspiration from restaurants, hotels, books, magazines, museums and our own homes.  One of the wonderful things about my job is that I’m constantly surrounded by talented people – designers, creative directors, photographers, stylists.  I have a non-stop infusion of creativity and inspiration in my job and in my life.  

What has influenced your personal design aesthetic and the work you do for Pottery Barn? 

My mother has been a big influence on my style: she has a great eye for design, and has always had a very practical approach to décor.  For example, if she loves something, she works it into her room.  If she uses something constantly, she finds a way to work it into her décor.  When I was growing up, she always had baskets hanging on the wall in her kitchen – when she needed one, she just grabbed it off the wall.  She has no use for things that are high maintenance in her home.  You can always put your feet on the coffee table at my mom’s house.  I’ve picked up many of those traits from my mom, and tend to use the same philosophies when building rooms for Pottery Barn.  

Pottery Barn Accessories

What place does global style have in the Pottery Barn design philosophy?

I love to travel, and I believe that inspiration can be found anywhere if you’re open to it.  I make a point of always staying in local hotels, rarely ordering room service, and exploring both culture and commerce while I’m traveling so I can bring the best of every trip back to our customers.

Consumers and designers both have fairly free access to design and ideas about design from all parts of the world, so the classic American home now tends to be a fusion of many influences based on the homeowner’s life experiences.  As a result, home décor is so much more sophisticated and interesting than it was ten years ago.

At Pottery Barn we strive to make our rooms look like they’ve been built over a lifetime rather than delivered all together at 2:00 on a Tuesday.  Consumer interest in eclectic and global style really plays right into what we do best.  

pottery barn quilt

Many companies are forming innovative partnerships with artisans.  Can you tell us about your partnership with the women of Gee's Bend?  

We established our Museum Craft Collection to celebrate some of the beautiful folk art in America’s history, which is such a rich source of classic design.  We felt the American Folk Art Museum, the Shelburne Museum and Gee’s Bend were the perfect partners for our launch, each for different reasons.  Our intention with each of the institutions was to reproduce an original piece as closely as possible to the artist’s original intent, and a portion of proceeds for the sale of our reproductions is paid to each of the institutions.  

We were especially drawn to Gee’s Bend because we admire the way the artists have interpreted traditional quilt patterns into modern works of art, each using their own sense of composition, color and scale.  Our customers have really loved the collections, so there will be more beautiful reproductions to come.

Pottery Barn entertaining

What are some of the newest trends and products at Pottery Barn?  How can people integrate these items into their spaces?

We love it when trends play into what we do best:  rooms with character and soul are in, and that’s what we do every day!  Provenance has become very important to our customers, so they love collections like Museum Craft, our collection of found objects, our handmade pillows and rustic furniture finishes that look like they have some history.  And great basics are always strong, but especially now, it seems consumers are willing to invest in foundation items like our 400 thread count classic sheets that they can use and appreciate for a long time.

To integrate a new, authentic piece like our Markham Bar into your home is easy:  put it in a room you love, prop it with things you love, and use it every day.   

Finally, can you give us your thoughts on the Fall collection? 

Our Fall collection is one of my favorites because every product has a great story.  From the Museum Craft Collection, to the Toscana Dining Table designed for us by one of our favorite furniture makers, to the PB Comfort Sofa made in our own factory in Hickory, NC, there’s history and beauty everywhere!

Thank you for taking us inside Pottery Barn's Fall collection Laurie!  I love the warm and soulful vibe, just in time for Autumn days.

{Images furnished by Pottery Barn}


  1. I was looking to have a handcrafted table made of vintage wood and then saw the Toscana Table at PB which is exactly the rustic style I was looking for. I cannot find out where it is made, or by whom. I am interested in that information before purchasing. Also curious if the tabletop is solid wood, or veneer. Can you help me answer these questions? I will look for reply on this thread, Thanks!

  2. The description on the website is that the table is built from pine, particleboard and pine veneer, so it's not solid wood. If you're looking for solid wood, you may want to check out the Andover table at Room & Board. Good luck!


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