This is her first manufactured collection!
Crowder previously worked as a photo editor for The Washington Post Style section, learning to reupholster antique furnishings from YouTube. While classes in New York took time and cost money, the internet allowed Crowder to learn at her own pace and “equalize[d] the process of creating.”
Eventually, she quit her job, moving home to Minneapolis in 2020 after people began asking her about a showroom. There she was able to continue her work and workout her furniture design muscle. After the tragic death of George Floyd, many businesses nationwide were looking for a way to support Black-owned businesses. Crowder believes that’s what prompted an unexpected inbox message in June 2020 from World Market, a popular company that sells specialty furniture and decor. The retail chain was reaching out to Crowder to ask if she was interested in creating her own collection in partnership with them.
“We were intrigued with her unique sense of color and pattern and using those combinations to elevate traditional furniture silhouettes. Nicole’s designs work in line with our brand - eclectic and unexpected, making it easy to update any room with a fashionable element,” said Terri Daniels, VP of merchandising, home and trend at World Market.
While Crowder didn’t yet know how it would be to work on her very first manufactured collection, or even with a team, having done her work solo for so long, she was open to the partnership.
“They were not asking me to ‘fit in’ with anything. They said, ‘We want you to create your dream collection’ …It opens up your mind as well to other possibilities. You grow when in community with other people,” explained Crowder.
Now her six-piece collection is available for sale via World Market, featuring an array of comfy furniture boasting maximalist prints that are designed to pay homage to Black women and invite the community to rest. The collection features a number of statement pieces, named for Crowder’s family and friends, designed specifically with rest in mind.
“Especially as a Black woman, I thought about my community. We deserve rest. There’s a lot happening in the world. My rest is a space where I can recharge. I wanted [to design] pieces inviting that,” explained Crowder.
The pieces are not only unique, they are also tailored to small-space living, Crowder herself residing in an apartment. The “Marie” chair is named after her mother who loves to read, with a butter-yellow back, her mom’s favorite color. There are also chairs inspired by her best friends who love to lounge, the “Denise” chaise and “Elaine” loveseat, featuring an open piano concept that Crowder says is “very curvaceous.” Each of the pieces range in price from $249.00 to $1,499.99 including dining chairs and the “Erin” bench and storage ottoman, named for her friend.
Crowder said that each of the pieces were carefully curated, sitting with each piece and marrying wood and textiles and designs. Fabrics were sourced from American companies with all-natural fibers and the woods were gathered from India where a renewable process ensures that each time a tree is used, another one is planted. Crowder said the World Market collection was inspired by creators like Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry, Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen and the late, great, Alexander McQueen. While creating, Crowder likes to envelope herself in the sounds of Minneapolis native Prince.
Last summer, Crowder opened a design studio that doubles as an event space. There she created a number of pieces, including a set of meditation pillows that were recently featured on HBO’s Insecure series. She plans to continue the work, looking to launch a new upholstered furnishing collection this spring. Whatever she does, she’s sure it will be intentional.
Click here to purchase pieces from the Nicole Crowder Collection with World Market.
Photo Courtesy of Nicole Crowder/Instagram