InhabitLiving.com is one of the most stylish online stores you will come across. I catch myself browsing their site at least once a week. I had the opportunity to chat with Mike Tuttle, one of the Owners and Co-Founder.
How did you come up with the name – inhabit? It obviously makes sense, but were there other contenders?
The original name we came up with was Habitat. We then found out there was a large European retailer of modern design with this name. Even though they had no presence in the US we figured based on our future plans and no budget for lawyers:) it was best to change it now. After much deliberation Inhabit was what we ultimately decided on. Inhabit fit the vibe of what the brand was going to be about and it was still generic in a good way that allowed for expansion in really any direction within this category. It gets to the whole aspect of living a certain way and putting things around you that make feel good. Very graphic driven style so even things like nature get regurgitated in a graphic way. Yeah, nature would definitely be one place. The patterning, colors and texture of nature often intermingle with more clean, modern lines in a lot of our designs.
Architecture also is a heavy influence on what we do, we see our products in a very specific environment when we design so making sure they can co-exist in these environments without competing with them is always in the back of our minds. We also find inspiration in areas like product design and automobile design where functionality has to blend with beauty. Love looking at concept cars. The new use of materials in these fields is very inspiring and is bound to impact the home furnishings market more and more.
I think our biggest inspiration though comes from a challenge. We love the process of building something from scratch. Taking something that did not exist before we came in contact with it and growing it to the point where the brand stands for something.
What are your backgrounds in design?
First and foremost we are huge fans of design in general and are definitely more students of design at this point in our life more than ever-before. We were both schooled as graphic designers and out of school worked in the advertising and brand building world. We actually owner a brand development firm called Planet 10 before we spun off Inhabit about 4 years ago. We no longer design for other clients and put all our energy into growing Inhabit.
Where did the two of you meet? Do other family members work with you?
We actually met when an advertising agency Jen was working for hired the digital imaging firm I was working for to do a project. It’s kind of funny we grew up less than 3 miles from one-another, went to the same school and had no idea the other existed until this project came up. She still loves to tell the story how I looked up her phone number in a classifieds paper, because I knew she was selling her computer. I then cross-referenced that listing with the phone book to find here number. Her maiden name was Smith, so locating a specific Jennifer Smith was no easy task.
Oh no, no other family members work with us. Well, we do bring our daughter to work but she tends to work counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish so she doesn’t count.
Do you come up with new lines each season?
Yeah, we typically update and subtract from the line twice a year. Some things stick around for years and some may only be part of the line for a season. Some items are designed to be anchor pieces that we design around and other are meant to support those pieces. We are constantly working on new items though.
If you attend industry trade shows, what are some of your favorites?
We have done shows in the past. This year however we had a baby and decided no traveling for a while. My favorite show though is ICFF.
Do you think your work appeals to a certain demographic?
This is a good questions. We talk about this a lot but it’s hard to pin down. We think it’s more about personal style than saying it this gender and they are this old, and they live in this area of the country, etc… I think the beauty of the internet allows our demographic to find us. We market Inhabit in certain areas like Dwell Magazine for instance, because we feel there is a good chance that someone who reads Dwell could very likely like get Inhabit. But we also have people stumble across Inhabit in really odd ways. So it really does seem that our demographic is finding us because of what the Inhabit brand stands for and our
unique design style.