Tforia: The Directory of Independent Design Brands
If there's one thing Decorenvy loves, it's uncovering interesting products from little-known designers. So imagine my delight when I accidentally stumbled on Tforia last week! This curated directory of interiors, fashion and jewellery brands is the perfect companion for people searching for an alternative to mass-produced products.
The idea for Tforia began to form eight years ago when founder Tina Yang moved to New York City. Expecting to be spoilt for choice for offbeat stores and interesting products, she found herself disappointed. "You'd think living there would provide endless opportunities for incredible shopping and inspiring design. But most of the boutiques were stocked with the same labels, the same pieces from the same designers. I would usually end up buying something at Macy's - I ended up making so many mediocre purchases because the items were conveniently available." After searching for a site to help her discover new designers, and drawing a blank, she decided to create one herself.
Rather than providing pages upon pages of product listings, Tforia's focus is deliberately narrow. "Etsy has some great designers, but finding them is like picking a needle out of a haystack," Tina explains. "Tforia is dedicated to promoting design that is original and well-considered. Many of the designers have honed their aesthetic over a minimum of five years and their experience shines through in their craftsmanship and aesthetics."
There are a few old friends to be found here - Ferm Living, Kristina Krogh and LEIF are all listed on the site, but they're nestled in a swathe of very small-scale studios that I had never heard of before. The collection is thoughtfully curated and visually the site is a dream to scroll through. The only hindrance is that there's no knowing until you click through to a shop whether the product you're looking at is actually for sale. For example, these beautiful handmade strainers and spoons (below) by Helena Emmans only seem to be on display in art galleries in Edinburgh and Cornwall - there are a small number available to buy, but you won't know which until you send an email enquiry. This is perhaps inevitable when working with independent designers, whose products are frequently made to order or in very limited numbers.
Above: Helena Emmans.
Tforia is very much a worldwide directory, listing independent brands from all over the globe. Tina is a seasoned traveller, and intends to hunt down many of the products she encountered around the world when Tforia was yet to be launched. "Last year, on a visit to Venice, Italy, I saw Venetian women wearing beautiful colored glass necklaces--nowhere to be found amongst the shops I came across." In the future the site will showcase niche products like these from an even wider variety of regions.
So, what's next for Tforia? Tina is currently working on upgrades to the site's iPad app (which you can download here) to allow users to save their favourite stores from the directory. In the future she hopes to take the site's international element even further, incorporating a travel feature which would allow users to discover the best places to buy unique products in a variety of destinations. "I still have yet to find out where to procure those Venetian necklaces."