Meet the minds behind the Nook Nightstand and Everywhere End Table.
June 07, 2021
Author: Breanne DeMore
To celebrate the launch of our newest products, the Nook Nightstand and Everywhere End Table, I chatted with the team behind these gorgeous tables: Gene Bunger, Product Designer, and Josh Silverman, Product Manager. We covered everything from the inspiration behind the design, what it is like to create and release a product during a global pandemic to the role nightstands play in our lives. Read more below.
How long did it take to create the nightstand?
JS: Nightstand took about 9 months of development to bring to life. We spent a lot of time exploring different form factors and building internal prototypes. Conducting user research took up a decent chunk, as we sifted through potential features, materials, styles, etc. with customers. Coordinating with our manufacturer to refine the design for production was the last and arguably most important step before production.
COVID is taking its toll on our industry by eating up material supplies, limiting the manufacturing workforce, and congesting shipping. These added some extra padding to our delivery timelines, but it was worth the wait.
GB: Design time is a small piece of the pie, it’s a lot of R&D. We also put a lot of consideration into where our brand is going next—a lot of exploration, materials, thinking ahead, what people need, how they use them, casting wide nets and narrowing in. We had a lot of really great concepts for new functionality, lots of different use cases, a lot of different assemblies. We ended up in a place more rooted in tried and true constructions and durable materials to help make it last the longest. We went back to the bare essentials.
Which came first, the nightstand or the end table?
GB: People have so many different needs from a bedside table. Some people only keep their lamp and a book. Some people need a place for medications, their phone, a book, water, etc. We designed these two in tandem for this reason. We knew from the onset that we wanted to give options for people who just needed something to put next to their bed, or for people who needed something a little bit more with the storage in the drawer. You can have a really solid nightstand that will last for your whole life but you don’t have to pay for storage if you don’t need it.
What was your goal when you set out to create these tables? How did it change over the process?
JS: We set out to extend the quality and value we’ve created around the mattress, bedding, and bed frame into other furniture in the bedroom. Bedside tables are humble, but essential elements in our sleep environment, so it was an important challenge to take on. What does a functional, versatile, timeless, quality bedside table look like for Tuft & Needle?
Storage and assembly were two of the key functional areas we focused on. We believe that there are some essential items we need bedside to maintain a routine for a great night’s rest—a novel, glass of water, sleep mask, medication, a safe place for valuables, and more. We also know that when given the space, we’ll stash stuff out of sight that we might not need to hold onto that can produce clutter.
The result is two form factors—a Nightstand with closed storage, and an End Table without. While the Nightstand offers the perfect amount of space for small bedside necessities, the End Table brings a beautiful, airy feel to a space where we just need a surface for a clock, our glasses, and a drink.
Versatility meant that the pieces could feel at home in as many bedrooms as possible. We went down a rabbit hole of interchangeable components, with 12 unique configurations. Offering such diverse versatility compromised quality in some cases, so we narrowed scope and were able to produce two great products that we’re really proud of.
What is your favorite aspect of the nightstand?
GB: By and large the materials—solid wood furniture. They are pretty simple in form, but they are completely solid wood. It’s unmatched durability, and yet still one of the more affordable options out there for well-designed, quality furniture. Also, the tried and true construction. My hope is it is something that some kid buys down the road in a thrift shop and it last them just as long as it will for this generation.
What was an unexpected issue that came up during product development that you weren’t expecting?
JS: COVID. In addition to the manufacturing challenges talked about earlier, we developed these with our partners overseas in a completely remote environment. Where we would normally work in person with our factories, we managed to launch this product exclusively on video calls.
GB: This was a newer project for me getting into the furniture space. But I was able to help our in-house lab team with the prototyping myself, which was a great experience. Seeing what it took to actually make these things, what they boil down to, revealed a lot that I wasn’t expecting. Also, not being able to visit the factory during COVID was a huge obstacle because you’re really missing the human element of seeing them make it, assemble it, and be hands-on with the manufacturing partners.
What do you hope customers say when they get their nightstand? End table?
JS: “I want to keep this forever.”
GB: Ohh, this is heavy—not because it’s too heavy for them, but because you can often feel the quality in that sort of situation. You can literally feel when something is solid, strong, sturdy.
What do you think customers will be most excited about as they use their nightstands?
JS: Real solid walnut and oak woods with rich color and grain textures. Also, how nice it is to have soft-close drawer slides *chef’s kiss*.
GB: I think they’ll be oddly satisfied by the soft closing drawer glides—they are so smooth and you don’t see them. If they don’t have any solid wood furniture yet, I think they’ll be really amazed by the way the grain follows through the design.
Versatility was really top of mind for the End Table, why was that so important?
JS: End Table was designed to do duty inside and outside the bedroom. Its simplicity creates versatility that looks great in a bedroom, living room, reading nook, and beyond. We hope to see Everywhere End Table in places we haven’t even thought of!
GB: It started with the bedroom, but as we used prototypes around the house, we realized how well it worked in other areas. We put one by our couch and loved it. And the same thing goes for the Nook Nightstand, too—you don’t have to use it as a nightstand. It is a great end or side table in any room.
When did we decide it was time for tables? Why was now a great time to release?
GB: Our Wood Frame has been such a great value piece for our customers. We wanted to create something to compliment that but would still work with other bed sets. But you aren’t really actively interacting with the Wood Frame. We were trying to think about what other utilities could we add to improve our customers’ overall sleep experience. Night tables were the natural progression of that.
We started out as a mattress company, but as a whole, we are really moving toward helping our customers improve their entire sleep environment. Nightstands may seem like a small part of that, but for the 7-9 hours people are sleeping every night, their most important items are often on their nightstands. Water, medications, inhalers, journals, religious items if that’s your thing, photos of loved ones—whatever customers have decided is most important for them to have within arms’ reach while they sleep goes on a nightstand. We want to provide a beautiful, long-lasting piece for that peace of mind.
What was your inspiration for these designs?
GB: Our Wood Frame is such a staple piece of our brand when it comes to furniture so a lot of it stems from that. I also was really inspired working with our in-house lab team—seeing new materials and new methods of construction in different ways was super inspiring to me and got me really excited. I also really love the idea of tying T&N’s past with creating something that will last forever—that gave me a lot of inspiration and made me super excited to get these tables into people’s homes.