The idea behind a company called Joybird has merit: Sell mid-century-modern-inspired furniture online to customers who have graduated beyond Ikea. But suspicion sets in once you look at their website closely.
The first red flags come from the marketing copy, which sounds less like the truth and more like bland platitudes that they think customers want to hear, like the text below the following image:
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Superior quality begins with sourcing the finest materials available and using proven artisan manufacturing techniques to create timeless and exquisite furniture built to last a lifetime. We believe in an old-school approach to creating furniture the way it was meant to be built with each and every piece carefully thought out and tested by real-life humans.
Should "finest materials" be used next to a photograph of plywood? What are these "proven artisan manufacturing techniques?" And what's the "old-school" approach, are they using handplanes and spokeshaves?
Then there's this mess of a company description:
"We don't just build furniture - I mean don't get us wrong we do - but we also have a great passion and respect for what we do. We live, eat and breathe mid century modern inspired furniture and are thrilled to do what we do."
"Made in North America"
Here's their description of the factory location:
"As more and more companies move overseas, we keep our manufacturing close to home in North America, helping grow local communities by providing well paying jobs, benefits, and a family culture like no other."
By "North America" they obviously mean "Mexico." Manufacturing in Mexico isn't uncommon these days—why hide it? Also, is "helping grow local communities by providing well paying jobs, benefits, and a family culture" in Mexico any better than doing the same in China? This sounds like they are trying to have it both ways: That they want to trumpet a Made-in-America provenance that they cannot truly claim, while gaining praise for not manufacturing in Asia.
Dumbing Things Down for Customers
Overall, the company's copy reads like it's targeted at people who don't know anything about furniture or materials. Read their caption of the desk below:
"shown in walnut wood"
As opposed to what, walnut metal?
Too Close for Comfort?
Here's where it gets disturbing. This is Joybird's "Unson Credenza:"
Joybird's Unson Credenza
Below is a sideboard designed in 1955 by Finn Juhl, the Danish industrial designer who helped popularize Danish Modern in America:
Finn Juhl sideboard, c. 1955
Does that seem okay to you?
Here's the description for Joybird's Xavier Desk:
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No cheap fillers to be found here—we employ firm, all-natural wood for an organic look and a solid structure.
We call bullshit:
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It's no secret why a company like this can still succeed. Their Unson retails for $2,239. Design Within Reach sells Juhl's original for $8,950.