By Meaghan O’Neill | Via ArchitecturalDigest.com | Photos courtesy of Fuigo
“The independence that we have as artists [is] so crucial and critical to the art forms that they’re able to create. Our idea around Fuigo was, through that collaboration, perhaps we could protect our independence.”
In 2015, brothers Maury and Mickey Riad founded Fuigo, an 18,000-square-foot coworking space for interior designers. The sleek space, located on New York City’s Park Avenue, allows creative talent to share business resources and also rub elbows with other designers while allowing them to maintain individual studios. Consolidating real estate, accounting, software, and other business essentials has allowed Fuigo’s stakeholders to maintain their artistic integrity and build their portfolios while streamlining operations.
The collaborative idea quickly took off, but the brothers, who also own the heritage textile company Fortuny, knew that vendors “are such a deep, entrenched part of the ecosystem.” As a result, Fuigo quickly grew to embrace vendors, too. Today, the space houses the city’s largest material lending library, with samples from more than 1,000 vendors.
Housing both sides of the industry also revealed how fragmented they were. Most designers and vendors at Fuigo had completely different methods for billing, expediting, processing orders, and so on. It seemed that they all were spending too much time on administrative work that took away from the creative process. The Riads saw an opportunity to streamline that background work via an online platform, which they created for their tenants.
Since then, Fuigo has been testing online project management tools that help designers trim down the hours spent on corollary work so they can devote more time to their creative process. More recently, the company received an A round of funding to expand Fuigo’s reach. Notable investors include John Edelman, CEO of Design Within Reach, and Tim Cassidy of Liaigre, as well as players from the fashion industry.
Today the software is available to the design world at large for $25 per month. Fuigo estimates that it can cut the time designers spend on administrative work by half; forthcoming tools are expected to increase that number even further. And its exciting online marketplace reimagines and expedites sourcing, purchasing, and tracking for trade orders from more than 100 luxury vendors, with roughly 30 to 40 more being added monthly.
But there’s more to it than that. In an age where direct-to-consumer manufacturing, big-box stores, and e-commerce have changed the way consumers gather information and shop, designers have more hurdles to leap than ever. Maury Riad worried that such corporatization and homogenization of the interior design would “[rip] the soul out of the art form.” Fuigo aims to ensure that interior designers and artisan vendors can not only increase their productivity, but also continue to create beautiful spaces and authentic products.
Read more about Fuigo’s innovation here.