Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 77

perspectives

interview

michael
bruno

Photo of Michael Bruno by Deena Feinberg; product
images courtesy of 1stdibs

2

1

ACCIDENTAL
CURATOR

Bringing unique art and antiques to the masses

What started as a real estate agent's passion for
amassing authentic Parisian market finds in 2001
has morphed into 1stdibs, an online marketplace
uniting more than 1,500 antiques, vintage
furniture, and design, fine art, estate jewelry,
and couture dealers from around the globe, what
AvroKO calls "connectivity in its purist form-
programmatic. It makes finding these rare and
beautiful pieces easy as pie, linking all of us."
Here, 1stdibs' visionary New York-based founder,
chairman, and chief creative officer, Michael
Bruno, talks curating, choice, and one-of-a-kind
products with AvroKO's Kristina O'Neal.

I know you began in luxury real
estate...How did you get the idea to
start 1stdibs?

I was living in San Francisco. A lot of my clients
were young kids in the internet business and
they were all buying houses and wanted to know
where to find stuff for these houses, and wasn't
there anywhere online? They didn't believe that
nothing existed for this. I'm surprised none of

them decided to do it themselves. I guess they
were all too busy doing other businesses.
I realized that if we created something
similar to an MLS type system-which is what
you use in the real estate business for finding
houses-for the design business, for professional
designers to find products they could show and
sell to their clients, it would be natural. It worked
well because we're well known to the designers in
the community, so it wasn't like shopping from a
new brand or developing new trust. For them to
pick it up and use it made it easy, and then they
began to explore dealers they didn't know. At first
a lot of designers used it for the dealers they did
know, and then they quickly said, 'Well, I care
about a chandelier. That's all I care about. Where
am I going to get the chandelier?' Once they
realized 1stdibs was a trusted place, it became
easy and comfortable for them to take the leap of
faith and start buying all around the world.

This is fascinating, as the concept for this
issue is connectivity. You have built the
ultimate connected curation or MLS for
furniture, as you call it. Do you think of it
as a curation?
There is a major curation element to it, because
historically we've turned down more dealers as
potential customers than we take. Sometimes
we don't say no; we just tell them we'll let them

1. Among the rare finds
at 1stdibs: one of a
pair of marble chimney
fireplaces.

2. A 1940s gilded bronze
floor lamp with a chiseled
palm-leaf pattern.

know later. Then we keep watching their website
to see if we like their inventory. We also only take
dealers who we think are going to be successful.
But now we have so many customers around the
world, it's hard to decide. It used to be that if I
didn't like it I wouldn't take them, but it can't be
about my personal taste anymore. It comes down
to is it a good value? Is it quality? Are they honest
in their description? How much knowledge do
they have? Are they a decorative dealer or a
collectable dealer?

That process-the curatorial process-
protects your purchasers as well?

Yes, so we kind of hand-select dealers who we
feel have the right aesthetic. But we have found
that sometimes the things people want are not
the things we would expect them to want, so you
never really know.

You're probably the most successful
model of this type in the online world.
What are you doing that wasn't done
prior? What's the secret sauce for what
you do?

hospitalitydesign.com November 2013

077


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - November 2013

Table of Contents
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - Intro
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - Cover1
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - Cover2
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 1
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 2
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 3
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 4
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 5
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 6
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 7
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 8
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 9
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 10
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 11
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 12
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 13
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 14
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 15
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 16
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 17
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 18
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 19
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 20
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - Table of Contents
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 22
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 23
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 24
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 25
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 26
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 27
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 28
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 29
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 30
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 31
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 32
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 33
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 34
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 35
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 36
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 37
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 38
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 39
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 40
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 41
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 42
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 43
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Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 45
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 46
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 47
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 48
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 49
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 50
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 51
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Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 53
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Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 58
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Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 71
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Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 73
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Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 76
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 77
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 78
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 79
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 80
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 81
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 82
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 83
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 84
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 85
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - 86
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Hospitality Design - November 2013 - Cover3
Hospitality Design - November 2013 - Cover4
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