To celebrate their company’s 30th anniversary, the co-founders of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams chatted with H&D editor in chief Sharon Jaffe Dan at a reception in their brand’s first brick-and-mortar shop, located on DC’s 14th Street. The upholstery start-up, launched in 1989 in Hickory, North Carolina, now employs almost 1,000 people and boasts 30 showrooms across the U.S. Following is an excerpt from the conversation.
Where do you find design inspiration?
Williams: I’m a huge magazine fan and pay close attention to what I see in print. We also look at pop culture, what’s happening in movies, television, music, fashion. And we travel to shows in Paris, Milan and cities throughout the U.S. like Palm Springs—where you get a great retro feeling.
How do historical styles come into play?
Williams: We don’t want to reproduce historical products, but we do bring them forward and make them a little bit more modern. In the ’90s, our leather chairs were inspired by 1930s and 1940s pieces we found in French flea markets. And now we’re seeing the influence of 1980s Memphis style—not so much in furniture, but accessories.
How do you want customers to feel about your furniture?
Gold: One of the quotes we wrote years ago was, “When a home has been furnished successfully, walking in the door is like getting a hug.” We want people to come in and be comfortable.
Share the philosophy behind your tireless advocacy supporting equality for all.
Gold: Comfort is not just how you sit in something, but how you feel in your skin. As Bob and I learned growing up gay decades ago, it wasn’t so comfortable. We don’t want other kids to go through that. And we’re not just advocating for full LGBT equality, but also for women’s rights and for kids. We’re involved with an organization that helps ex-cons and ex-drug addicts integrate into society. We want to be part of making this world better for everyone and we’re lucky to have a business that allows us to do that.