Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hazel And Robert Petril

I recently saw a couch I really liked. What's so special about that? Well, I see hundreds of them while looking for just that perfect one for a client. The hardest thing is to find is a couch that combines a stylish modern and traditional silhouette. You can always do a custom piece, but sometimes you just want to get something off the showroom floor.

I think I found the perfect couch designed by Robert Petril. I like it so much that I asked Robert to tell us how the design came about.

Hazel by Robert Petril for Lazar

from Robert..
"I originally designed this sofa over five years ago. It was part of a huge collection of 30 upholstery designs I had created as the first "Simon Li Collection". A Danish company manufacturing in China that wanted to break into the American furniture business in a big way. There were doing some business with one very large retailer in the U.S. with one or two models."

Modern modular seating designed by Robert Petril

"These models were very commercial three piece sofa/loveseat/chair leather groups. I managed to convince them to take the path of style and create a new brand. I took some of their leather sofas and paired them with cool fabric chairs. I created many of the other designs you can find on my blog by clicking the "Mini Portfolio" tab. The original "Hazel" was one of them, although slightly different. I also designed the leg that's now on it back then as well. It's funny because the inspiration came from a decorative incense burner I had in the center of my Tatami tearoom in Shanghai."

The leg on Hazel inspired by an incense burner

"Well, that first High Point Market, the one BIG customer came in, and saw a completely different company and said, 'what the hell is this?', and walked out! The Danish guys went to the back and spoke Danish for what seemed like an eternity, and I was standing in the middle of the showroom thinking...Uh oh! The collection was very forward for that time, and they forced me to go a bit more commercial for the next market. So, the original 'Hazel' design got overlooked and fell by the wayside.

I always believed in this design and my vision for it. So, from the moment I went freelance back in 2008, I was trying to find a way to get it made. Finally, when Lazar approached me for some new designs, I found the right place and opportunity to make it happen.

Lazar gave it the name 'Hazel', and I got the awesome opportunity to work with Debra Venti the merchandiser and fabric buyer for the company. I send her color boards and briefs on the vision, and she goes out and works her magic and found the perfect covers."

The yummy fabric backed linen - I would upholster Hazel in velvet, in a vibrant, rich color

"In High Point, it was shown covered in a super soft and yummy fabric backed linen, and accessorized with some really fun accent pillow covers. I love the Bird fabric that Debra found."

Robert Petril and Debra Venti at High Point

"I'm proud to say that Hazel was not overlooked at all this past High Point Market. Multiple retailers including some big ones placed orders for it. And, the Lazar sales teams are now chasing down more commitments on it as well. I feel very excited and grateful this design finally found success.

Here are some useful links. I hope this story wasn't too long and boring. For me, it was a long journey, and one I'm proud of. Because I just didn't give up on it."

from Valorie:

Not only do I love Hazel the sofa, I love Robert the man who designed it. His personal story is very interesting. His father was a very successful salesman in a furniture company, and Robert followed in his footsreps. He too, was very successful at sales and marketing. 

One day Robert asked the principal designer of the Italian furniture company he was working for if he could try out an idea for a sofa. He took it from visualization to production, to actual sales. Robert says (in his fascinating bio) "I've never looked back. I took off my loafers, business suits, and my ties. I rolled up my sleeve to proudly display my tattoo, and began to follow my real dreams. I've been designing ever since."

Robert Petril Designer

So my fellow visual vamps, do follow your dreams...

PS In New Orleans you can order Hazel from Scandinavia Furniture 

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  1. I enjoy your blog and I love that sofa! I always thought a sofa had arms and a couch did not. What do you think?

  2. What a GREAT story Valorie! I really enjoyed hearing about his entire design process from start to finish, and I agree with you - it's a wonderful couch. As a small space dweller, I have to say I can see its versatility too; you're getting maximum seating space out of the frame with that design (and awesome legs).

  3. What great pieces! I especially love that he finds inspiration in the most unexpected places. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Love, Jamie Herzlinger


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