Founder and ‘Head of Loafing’, Charlie Marshall launched Loaf in 2009 after shopping for a comfy bed one weekend left him rather frustrated. Now one of the fastest growing companies in the UK, Loaf’s relaxed and laid-back style has spread from the domain of the bedroom, to the living room and, as of this month, the whole of the home.
When did you realise that you were interested in furniture and design? I’ve always been interested in design and my whole family is obsessed as well. I grew up on building sites, developing one property at a time before moving on to the next.
What, where or who inspires you? I have three sisters, all of whom have lovely homes and very good taste. Everything Loafy has to be vetted by them before it makes the final cut. Other inspirations include Spanish Architectural Digest – a design bible – and architect Vincent van Duysen who mixes old and new. His look is clean, calm and very ‘Belgian’!
What’s the best piece of advice for someone shopping for a large investment buy, such as a bed, or sofa? Number one, make sure it fits! It sounds simple but people often overlook measuring properly, especially checking that the new furniture will fit through any doorways or tight spaces. Luckily our delivery chaps are a dab hand at this sort of thing. Also ask yourself if your new sofa or bed is going to be really, really comfy? Is it well made? Will it fit in the next house?
Is it crucial to try furniture out in person or is buying online ok? The idea is that we’ve done all of the testing so that the customer doesn’t have to. Having lost a whole Saturday trying to buy a bed, I decided to make the shopping experience as hassle-free, affordable and speedy as possible. Customers can come and loaf around on our beds and sofas and see the products up close in our Notting Hill showroom/office if they want to.
If you were one of your furniture designs, which would you be and why? Well we’ve got our Missy kitchen chair named after my wife and the Horace chest of drawers and the gorgeous new Minna rug named after my two kids. But there is no Charlie, yet. If we designed a ‘Charlie’ I’d probably be something similar to my mid-century Scandi piece. I hate clutter (even though I’m pretty messy) and at home we have a handy storage cabinet for stuffing everything in which we’ve nicknamed the ‘Swedish facility’. That would be me.
How do you come up with new designs? I look for inspiration in vintage and antique pieces at home and away. I also find Pinterest useful for ideas. I then work alongside our in-house design team to create something that is beautiful and that isn’t going to blow the bank for our customers. We don’t really tend to follow trends here at Loaf. We’re more about lasting style, which we like to think of as relaxed elegance. I believe we should be buying responsibly and investing in well-made, timeless design and avoiding throw-away fashion.
What has been your proudest moment in your business so far? It’s always the final moment after our new designs have been photographed and are showcased on the website and in the brochure. I love seeing our hard work all come together.
Can you tell us what’s next in the pipeline for Loaf? We are well on our way to becoming a one-stop shop, meaning that customers can now ‘Loaf’ all of their home. Since launching in 2009 and originally being the specialist for beds we introduced sofa and bedroom furniture last year and now we’re growing into pretty much all areas of the home.
On 1st March we launched over 150 gorgeous new pieces from kitchen tables and chairs, coffee tables, side tables and floor rugs, to bathroom furniture, a kids’ furniture range and art for the first time. We are introducing lots of smaller accessories in October this year along with pieces for the home office such as trestle tables and storage too.
As well as designing furniture, I’m also good at….Renovating and developing houses. I have spent time developing and selling on properties which is partly where my love of design comes from.
One of my indulgences is playing tennis two to three times a week with a coach and I’m also pretty good at taking holidays…