Design expert Bob Williams, half of the creative minds behind the home furnishing brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, didn’t always plan on designing furniture. In fact, he originally studied to be a graphic designer. It wasn’t until he met Mitchell Gold, now his business partner, that he learned the intricacies of the furniture industry, and the rest is history. Post Studios had the pleasure of speaking with Bob to hear about where he draws inspiration from, what makes him tick, and how to make the family pet feel right at home.
What was it about interior design that led you to home furnishing?
I actually got into the furniture business because of Mitchell and just being at the right place at the right time. He worked for a big furniture company, and after a couple of years, he wanted to start his own. I was the only one willing to pick up the paintbrush and carry all the boxes and all that kind of stuff.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Is there a particular piece you can tie back to a specific inspiration?
I get inspiration from all kinds of places. Whether it’s watching movies, television or what I’m reading in books. Magazines are also a huge influence and just kind of getting inspired during my day-to-day. I’m a huge antique, flea-market type person, and it’s so interesting to go back and find something from a previous period and think, “How can I take that and make it more relevant for today’s consumer?” Sometimes it’s making a piece a little deeper, making the back a little fluffier, or putting a new or different cover on it. One of our best-selling pieces is the Hunter sofa, and I found something similar to that in a flea market and it turned into being one of our best-selling sofa collections.
Every day, there is a new opportunity that comes to you and you just need to be brave enough or smart enough to run with that opportunity and see where it takes you.
Where are you most creative? Where do you do most of your designing?
I live about 25 miles from the factory [where Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture is built] and it’s all through the country to get here. So every morning and every evening, I’ve got about a 25-, 30-minute ride and I’m seeing cows, farmhouses and barns and your mind just starts to think: What if we did this to this chair or what if we took this table and put this finish on it and make the knobs a little bigger? I just let it kind of stew there until I get it all figured out. And that’s kind of my litmus test for ideas: If I remember it or I’m real excited about it by the time I get to the office, then I know this is something really good. I write it down, pin it on the wall with all the other ideas and then when it comes time to come up with the ideas for the next season, I’ve already got a wall full of ideas and thoughts.
When you’re not designing, what are you doing?
Besides going to antique stores and flea markets, I love to garden. It’s interesting because it lets me design but in a completely different medium than furniture and interiors. It’s fun because it lets me use different kinds of thoughts and ideas and it’s also challenging to try and create a garden that’s beautiful and colorful 12 months out of the year.
One thing that I learned a long time ago: If it’s a really good thought or a really good idea, it’ll come back to you.
Do you have any tips for someone furnishing their first home?
I always tell people, think about how you want to use the space. Is this a space where I’m going to have friends and family over and we’re going to be able to talk? Or is this the place where I want to relax, lay back, take a nap, or watch TV? You need to find furniture that will allow you to do those activities in that space. If you want to be able to have a conversation and talk, you want a seat that is very shallow and lets you sit up straight. Now, if it’s a place where you want to relax or watch TV, then something that sits a little deeper or a little lower is perfect. I don’t really tell people you need to think about the color or you need to think about the style; I always stress to people to think about the function. Once you figure out the function, then finding those pieces that allow you to do that makes it so much easier.
How would you describe the look and feel of the fall collection?
One of the things that we try to do every season is to have things that are clean and classic. We try to put together a collection that will have great, incredible, classic, basic items that you can add to season after season. It’s one thing if you buy a shirt that’s a little crazy or a pair of shoes that’s a little “off the rack” because you’re not going to wear that or see it every day. But a piece of furniture — as soon as you walk in the room, it’s the first thing that you see. The last thing I want is somebody to regret what they bought; I want them to be able to build onto the pieces that they have.
A media sofa is great because it’s extra deep. It lets you lay back and put your feet up without having to have an ottoman.
Your company is very much focused on eco-friendly and sustainable designs. Can you give us some background on why that’s important to you?
In the manufacturing, or pouring, of foam, there’s a lot of fluorocarbons that get released into the atmosphere which is destroying the ozone layer. So we started calling the foam companies to find out what other kind of foams they had, and it just lucked out that this one company just created this new type of foam that didn’t release these particular fluorocarbons. We were really fortunate that immediately we were able to buy foam that was more environmentally responsible than other foams out there. Growing up in Texas during the ‘70s also introduced me to Lady Bird Johnson’s big campaign about “Keep America Beautiful.” The notion that it’s up to us to make sure that we keep the world clean and safe is just a part of my whole DNA. It’s amazing now to have a company that part of our whole ethos is making sure that we protect the environment.
We know you have two dogs. What advice can you give your fellow pet owners about choosing upholstery?
I always recommend you limit the furniture the pet can be on to one or two pieces and we suggest using performance fabrics. Sunbrella is a great fabric because it’s an acrylic yarn so it’s easy to clean and it’s practically indestructible. That’s what I have on my sectional in my house and I’ve got two dirty little French bulldogs on there every night. About a year ago, I came home from overseas, dead tired and decide I’m going to get a glass of red wine and sit on the sofa and just relax. My two dogs come running in, and next thing you know, they jump on the sofa and run across me. Of course I’m jiggling my glass of wine and think, “Thank goodness I didn’t spill any!” and before I even had a chance to move, one of them jumps on top of me. The glass of red wine goes right up in the air and I’m soaked, with seven of the cushions covered in red wine. I took them off the sofa, threw them in the washing machine, and they came out clean.
Just remember: Pets are dirty, so be sure to vacuum your upholstery because dog hair and dirt is just going to be part of it.
Click here to find out more about Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and shop their new Fall collection now.