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Jonathan Louis x Otis College of Art & Design - Intro to Jonathan Louis

Read our last installation? Go ahead and skip the intro


Developing the next generation of talent is a big part of our ethos (see here, and here for our talent development series). We’ve extended our efforts outside of our four walls to Otis College of Art & Design. From installations to trends, Otis students have been active participants in our market-focused endeavors. 


This fall, we’ve expanded our collaboration with Otis College to sponsoring a Product Development Studio I class. Open to third-year students, the class is a hands-on, “project-based course bringing consumer products from concept to market.” The goal of class is to better understand how to incorporate practicalities like manufacturing into the design, and “to gain a greater understanding of how to translate a concept into a product for sale in the market.”


Projects include individual home decor and the Jonathan Louis sectional group project. At the end of the semester, we will select one team’s concept, and work with them to build a final piece to display at Spring 2023’s High Point Furniture Market. Follow this blog to see the progress of these students as they deconstruct, explore, play, ideate, and create.

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Jonathan Louis Tour and Q&A

Students of Product Development Studio I class took a field trip to Jonathan Louis HQ and LA factories. In an up-close and personal tour, students had the opportunity to chat with class sponsors, Javier Sanchez (CEO) and Heidi Gonzalez (Director of Product Development) and the chance to tour our LA facilities.

Introduction to Jonathan Louis

Javier kicked off the afternoon session with a quick introduction to Jonathan Louis, and provided the reasoning behind a Jonathan Louis-sponsored course. He emphasized the importance of developing new talent and growing the next generation of leaders.

Segueing into the history of JL, Javier briefly touched on how China’s inexpensive goods put pressure on the furniture market, and it was during this period of tumult that JL identified an untapped market, one of mid-priced furniture that featured high-end design and craftsmanship. Focusing on this void allowed Jonathan Louis to carve out a distinct berth in the market; now shipping over a million pieces a year, the focus on product design and development is unparalleled at this price point. 


Javier then talked about the development process, emphasizing the importance of not being hindered by outside considerations. “A conscience is sometimes a pest,” he quoted U2’s “The Fly,” noting that too much influence from sales goals, the market, and other external influences can hinder creativity. He did note, however, that once design has taken shape, bringing in other voices to provide commercial and brand insight is necessary, as creative and business need to co-exist and find a balance. 


He then goes on to explain the thought process behind the final project set before the students: what does the future look like for furniture? What iteration of furniture will be in demand in 10, 15 years? Will it be purely functional, as all of our lives are conducted via VR or in the metaverse? Or will there be a retreat to the familiar, the nostalgic?

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