BoConcept Sees Americans Embracing Modern Design
As farmhouse chic and eclectic clutter are (finally) on the wane in American home design, Danish furniture builder and international franchise retailer BoConcept hopes Americans are finally starting to embrace the clean lines and painstakingly simple modern design trends that are so popular in other countries.
When we last spoke with the brand as part of the Franchise Times Top 200+ coverage a few years back, the brand was looking to grow its U.S. presence to capitalize on the ongoing resurgence of modern living as a new generation of Americans enter their prime working and buying years. This is the moment the brand has been waiting for, with a primary focus on cities like New York and Washington D.C. that have large populations of expats and foreign-born citizens.
Asked specifically about things like HGTV programming that relentlessly push oversized sinks, sliding barn doors and distressed wood paneling, BoConcept franchisee Tim Machenaud said he’s still waiting for modern design to get a similar platform before American viewers.
“I was very close to writing to the executive producers of HGTV,” he said. Probably 90 percent of the shows are very traditional, but I cannot see home design in the year 2050 to be this traditional furniture—it’s going to change at one point, the world is changing, and there’s no reason why the U.S. is not going to go there.”
After a previous stint working for BoConcept’s corporate arm, Machenaud became a franchisee taking over the Georgetown location that had been open since 2001, and also bringing the brand back to the upscale Tysons Galleria mall in the Virginia suburbs.
Where renovation stars like Joanna Gaines have pushed more traditional designs, Genevieve Gorder is one high-profile American home TV star with a more modern eye. To reach a greater cohort of modern design enthusiasts, BoConcept has also advertised in the pages of Dwell to reach an exclusive, national audience.
As the brand looks to raise its U.S. profile, expect to see the brand in more “media spheres,” with Machenaud adding that design enthusiasts still love holding hard copies of beautiful photography and rehab stories in their hands, rather than just watching on screen.
While BoConcept previous told us about their plans to launch an ecommerce platform in the U.S.—which isn’t easy with a network of franchisees wanting the sales for themselves—those plans remain “on the back burner” as the brand continues working through operational and technical challenges to making that happen.
The brand’s director of U.S. marketing, Steen Knigge, spends a good portion of his time flying around the country, hitting up design strongholds like San Diego, Miami and Minneapolis, which he said is a “super interesting” market that he’d like to find a suitable partner to enter.
“It is complicated,” he said of attracting new franchisees to a concept that requires a significant investment and, ideally, a love for Scandinavian style. Part of his work also includes working with existing franchisees, encouraging them to expand in particularly fertile grounds.
BoConcept currently has 15 operating stores in the U.S., which is a slight decline over the last two years.