Joybird Furniture — 9 reasons to pay attention to this new ‘manutailer’

New manufacturer+retailer of mid-century modern furniture –
made in the USA, made to order

midcentury modern sofa joybirdmid century modern style desk joybirdmid century modern wall unit joybird
Several weeks ago I started noticing ads for Joybird Furniture appearing on the blog… the ads looked intriguing… so I finally took a look at Joybird’s products. I liked what I saw and read, and a few minutes later I was on the phone talking with one of the company’s four co-founders. I was impressed — I count nine reasons why:

joybird furniture fitzgerald sova(1) The furniture is good-looking. For example, my favorite sofa (this week) is the Worthy design, shown in orange at the top of this page. I love the Dick van Dyke Show lines and ooooh, that tufting. I bet a lot of folks will also like the atomic-looking Fitzgerald sofa (in aqua, above). There are sleek lined-desks… and wall units that look to be channeling Cado and Royal Systems and Barzilay….

midcentury modern style sofa hughes by joybird furniture(2) Prices seem fair. “My” Worthy sofa — which was on sale recently — came in at under $1,500 (on sale). Yes: You may be able to find vintage furniture at better prices. But re: sofas particularly, while the frames can be amazing, reupholstering a vintage sofa can get very expensive, very fast — if you can even find someone to do a quality job.

Related to pricing, I learned a term that I had never heard before: Joybird Furniture is among a new breed of ‘manutailers’. That is: They are both the manufacturer and the retailer. Sounds like this eliminates the middleman markup, allowing for lower prices. And, this business model should help Joybird stay very close to needs and wants of today’s customers.

mid century modern style bed(3) Shipping is free.

(4) Two-pound foam — I asked about the quality of the sofas, worried that a relatively inexpensive price point would mean… lesser quality. The company said that it uses kiln-dried hardwoods for the frames, which sounds like it is pretty standard in the industry. What really sets their sofas apart versus some other similar competitors today, they claimed, is that that Joybird uses two-pound foam for their cushions — which is not so common industry-wide, he said. I googled the foam-weight issue a bit, and sure enough, it seems that foam quality can make a significant difference in how sofa cushions wear. I checked with another company that I’ve featured before — Younger Furniture — I love their mid-century style designs and Made in the USA story, too — and Marilyn Spell told me, “Our standard is 2.0 high resiliency and our ‘Y Lux’ [an upgrade] is 2.5 high resiliency.”

Note, however: I am not an expert on how to assess sofa quality and certainly not company-vs.-company; we are not Consumer Reports here. I put this foam-weight issue on the list because the company called it out; sounds like this is definitely a factor to further research and add to your checklist if you are in the market comparison shopping and want to assess ‘value’ issues. To be sure, I’ve heard complaints about failing cushions on inexpensive sofas before….

joybird furniture fitzgerald chair(5) Made-to-order sizing — Joybird told me that they Furniture carry no inventory. It makes all its products to order. The company also offers customers the option to adjust their furniture sizes up, down, sideways — whatever. Want a sofa that’s six inches longer… or three inches shorter… or 2 inches deeper or how about different legs? Joybird can do it for you. They will also let you send your own upholstery fabric. I was told that lead times are four weeks for all orders, but that timing can vary depending on volume.

(6) Made in the USA — The company said that Joybird has two factories, one in San Diego, another in Central California. Yay for Made In the USA.

joybird furniture justice wall unit(7) Clever customer service – Joybird will email you a photo of your furniture piece at each key step during its manufacturing progress. For a sofa, for example, there is a seven-stage manufacturing process — so you’ll get seven photos along the way.

(8) Great website — Nice website, easy to navigate. Nicely done, Joybird tech team, I like it!

joybird furniture(9) Efficient communication — Well, this is very anecdotal, but when I first contacted Joybird — via their online chat — the service was surprise-and-delight excellent. Chat-box Hank was right there… Hank found me the right person to talk to right away… and they picked up their phone. In today’s phone-tree-push-a-button-get-disconnected-frustrating world, this certainly made a nice impression on me. A repeat interaction was equally efficient.

I like the look of these products and the ‘manu-tailer’ business model. I will keep my fingers crossed that it’s all a big success — good for Joybird, and good for we mid-century modern and -modest enthusiasts and decorators, too!

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Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    I like the look of all of their pieces shown, but I especially love the stacking tables “Swift.” Great size for the smaller ranch house, look convenient to use, and constitute a piece of art on their own.

  2. Gavin in the UK says

    Wow, you guys are so lucky! There is NOTHING like this that I am aware of in the UK. Amazing, just amazing.

    • says

      That’s so interesting! I often feel the same way about the UK when I see something I like! Outside of mid century modern, the UK, especially for its size, has a huge selection of great design across all styles; in part because much of Europe is available to you. I just paid to get a recliner from Belgium because only the European designs met the trifecta of fitting in a small space, looking great, and being super comfortable. Had I lived in England I could have purchased it from my local furniture store for a LOT less.

  3. Mary Elizabeth says

    Gavin, nice to hear from you.

    I wonder if you ordered from them the shipping cost to the UK would be prohibitive?

    • Gavin in the UK says

      Well, mostly it can be difficult to get American suppliers to ship outside the USA (bizarrely parochial in this day and age!) and yes the shipping can be expensive although we did manage to get our kitchen units shipped a few years ago for a reasonable amount. But news of these guys is too late for us now, after much searching both new and vintage sofas over the past year we eventually settled on a couple of Florence Knoll replicas in white leather.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Well, Gavin, those sofas are nothing to sneeze at! I’m sure they are lovely.

        Yes, it does seem rather parochial that many manufacturers (and retailers) won’t ship outside the US. “Made in USA” is a great idea here; “Stays in USA” not so great.

        • pam kueber says

          I do not agree at all with the “parochial” judgments — businesses can do whatever they want to do, who are we to call it “parochial”? Shipping and customs paperwork — and then what about complaint/returns — overseas can be a real hassle. I tend to think it is very typical to limit shipping locations to locations where customs paperwork is not required…

          • Mary Elizabeth says

            You make an excellent point, Pam. And the size of the company may dictate whether or not they want to get into shipping furniture overseas. I would think you would have to do a huge amount of business in order to invest in the staff to make that happen.

  4. Leslie says

    I also began noticing Joybird at about the same time you did Pam. One thing I am curious about is, they seem so similar to Thrive. The fabrics are the exact same fabrics, colors and names. I searched and couldn’t find out if they were “related” Joybird is located in San Diego – Thrive in LA. Anyone know?

    • Chelsey says

      I’ve been wondering that too! I’ve gotten samples from both Thrive and Joybird, and some of them are exactly the same. Some of the designs are exactly the same too. I haven’t been able to find an answer to this question.

    • Kali says

      Although their website still seems to be in crashed, I agree, at least based on the “Fitzgerald” sofa above, that either they must be in cahoots with Thrive or doing one very serious rip-off of their design!

      I know this because I covet the “Cleveland” sofa from Thrive in the best/worst possible way. On an interesting note, I just went to the Thrive website and see that the Cleveland has jumped a whopping $500 in cost (although they seem to be having a “sale” right now bringing it down to its previous cost). This may have just put it out of reach for me, as I was counting on ordering it during a 15% off sale and the Canadian dollar has plummeted recently :(

      • pam kueber says

        hmmmm. I asked Joybird to respond to this question. I do not know the legalities of this aspect of product design, but I am sure he will have a response….

      • Lauryn says

        Aren’t all of these sofas (from all these different companies) a “rip-off” to some degree? That’s why we love them; they are reminiscent of designs from half a century or more back. The whole reason we bought our new sofa was due the difficulty in finding a decent vintage and the reason we chose the one we did was because of how much it looked like a vintage sofa.

      • says

        Yes – they are very, very similar, however the Fitzgerald sofa is our interpretation of a classic mid century design. The original sofa design (circa 1962) lacked a little of today’s creature comforts (durable foam, and screwed frames).

        We played with the pitch and seat to get it just right. A lot of people have done their version of the original, we feel we just did it better…

    • says

      Joybird and Thrive are not affiliated. They’re different companies with different factories, but they do offer some very similar high quality items (both mid-century modern).

      Most customers choose Joybird (as Pam so kindly pointed out) for the free shipping, customization options, low prices, and great customer service. (we encourage you to compare us).

      • Leslie says

        Thanks for the clarification Hank! Your website is amazing and I am glad I have been hesitant to order from another company – guess I was just waiting for Joybird to arrive on the scene! Here’s to your vision of custom, quality Mid Century Modern furniture.

  5. Jamie D. says

    Wow, this stuff is great. And let’s hear it for made in the USA! I especially love that bed. It’s reminiscent of Broyhill Sculptra, except it’ll be much easier to order an entire bed, rather than trying to hunt down the elusive side rails and footboard in hard-to -find modern bed sizes and for deeper modern mattresses and boxsprings. Sometimes you just need instant gratification instead of the thrill of the hunt.

  6. tammyCA says

    I saw those ads pop up the other day and I was thinking, “that is one sharp looking desk”. I can’t get on their site yet but oh, my goodness I LOVE that Jetson type chair! I have been obsessing on that design since I saw one in a lame ’60s Bob Hope movie..I couldn’t stop staring at that awesome chair behind the stars. I have no Mid-century Modern furniture but I am getting swayed more and more. :)

    • pam kueber says

      Apparently we’re sending lots of traffic, and we crashed their server for a short bit. The site is up again, as I write this! I am going to guess they won’t have any more problems, they likely asked their server company to allocate them more juice while all we Retro Renovators go to looky loo.

      • Shane says

        The site is down again and their phone number is not accepting incoming calls :( Can’t wait for it to come back up, I need a new couch and these folks have style! Something that seems hard to find at the big box stores.

    • tammyCA says

      Just got on their site…so cool. The fabric choices can be cotton, poly, or leather in such great colors (my fave aqua/turquoise)…but, what is even niftier is that you can send in your own fabric, esp. great if you happen across vintage upholstery fabric.
      (p.s. I shouldn’t have said ‘lame movie’ ’cause I actually like watching all those old movies…instead call it “madcap comedy.) :)

  7. Lauryn says

    Oh, I just love reading about companies like this and I LOVE that the furniture is made to order. How cool is that? We love our Younger sofa (which we learned about on this blog), but would love to add some chairs to the mix, so this is a great resource. Can’t wait to finish this comment and go jump on their website!

  8. Sam R says

    The design of the first couch is almost identical to a pristine early 60s sofa I pulled out of a Habitat store in a very rural town several years back. It’s the most comfortable sofa I’ve ever owned, and the upholstery is nearly pristine. I probably do need to have new foam inserts made for the cushions, though. It’s definitely nice to see a company reproducing classic designs in quality materials!

  9. Jay says

    Just went to the web site to browse. Nice stuff! I was taken aback at the “Best Seller” Tolson table. It is the spittin’ image of my A. Pearsall end tables. I wonder if they bought the design.

  10. Jamie D. says

    I see that some of the furniture is customizable. I’m wondering if it’s possible to get one of the chairs turned into a rocker? Or if Joybird has any plans to add a rocking chair to their lineup?

    It’s really difficult to find a comfy mid mod rocking chair + ottoman! And for people who may be planning nursery decor, they don’t necessarily have an endless timeline to keep searching for the perfect vintage piece.

    (I know, again, I really like the instant gratification.)

  11. hannah says

    I’ve been on their site now for over an hour. I have a 1K bonus and a 1K tax return and seriously considering the Calhoun Love-seat (which measures 78″ and would suffice as a sofa in our small ranch). That’s longer by 18″ than what we have right now.

    I wonder if they offer printed fabric? I’ve checked the site and all I see are solids.

    *LUVS*

      • hannah says

        Thank you for the reply Hank! I just ordered some swatches. Can’t wait!

        I compared your offerings to Thrive, and came away preferring your product with regards to pricing and available styles.

        I lived in San Diego (was raised in Los Angeles) for 8 years before we moved to Maine (where Mr. Wonderful is from). Throw the city a kiss from me!

  12. says

    I ordered a Calhoun sofa from them and am looking forward to getting it. I will try to remember to post a photo of it once it arrives. I showed their site to a friend of mine who is an interior and she loved it as well. Crossing my fingers some lamps will be offered that mimic the style of their wooden tables, as well as some Danish-inspired planter stands similar to Modernica’s case study planter, but with lines similar to their sandburg, tolson, and stern models.

    • pam kueber says

      I don’t think that Joybird makes the accessories. I think they make the upholstered goods and the hard goods (if that’s what furniture made from wood is called.) HANK: Can you clarify what you manufacture vs. stock?

      • says

        Sure! We make everything on our site except for the accessories items – clocks, rugs, lamps, throws, and some of the accent pillows are supplied by other companies. Everything else we manufacture ourselves including all sofas, chairs, beds, tables, and storage/wall units.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        I just remembered that in a tag sale several years ago I found a beautiful pair of vintage wooden table lamps that echo perfectly the lines of the “Swift” table set. I gave them to one of my daughters, then she got a new Golden Retriever puppy. Alas, the puppy got one, pulled it off the table and dragged the cord out of the wall and ran into the kitchen with the lamp in its teeth. After that, she called them the “dogbone” lamps. (Little Haywood-Wakefield joke.)

  13. Jane says

    Any plans to offer the Justice pieces separately? I have been hunting high and low for shelving like that but, alas, don’t have room for all three pieces.

  14. Mark says

    For anyone following Thrive v. Joybird after noticing the similarity between their products and websites, there is literally a lawsuit between them.

    Joybird’s founding management is made up of former Thrive employees, who left to start their own company in late 2013. Thrive is accusing them of using company time to plan the new venture (it launched pretty early in 2014), as well as stealing designs and other IP infringement.

    Personally, I strongly sympathize with the argument that you can’t steal something that is itself an homage to a specific vintage design, and you can’t copyright a business model. I do admit to being a little irked at how similar the design/layout of Joybird’s website is to Thrive’s, however.

    Of note, Thrive was an independent company until 2010, when it was acquired by a larger film. This may (and I’m just wildly speculating here) have lead to the eventual splintering of high-level staff.

    Keep in mind that this all comes from a Press Release published by Thrive announcing the lawsuit, so the story is thin on details, but things appear more than a little sketchy on both sides.

    For we consumers, however, the only thing that matters is design, quality, and service. After spending the last few days comparing the two company’s offerings and policies, I tend to agree with the majority in this comment thread that Joybird (even with it’s slightly higher prices) is the way to go.

  15. Shannon says

    My husband and I bought a bed last year from THRIVE and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again. It is so sturdy, it doesn’t move or squeak when you get into it. In addition, they have an excellent return policy. You may return your piece for any reason within 7 days and shipping is on them. You may return within a year if you pay for shipping. We ordered a bed during one of their sales and the longer you were willing to wait the more of a discount you got. It was supposed to ship in 12 weeks but it shipped in 8. We were thrilled.

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