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Unbranded Designs Is Like American Idol for Chairs

Designers upload plans, vote on entries, and the company pays to produce and distribute the winning product.

As cities go, Chicago seems to have more than its share of talented up-and-coming furniture designers. And now, with the help of a new company called Unbranded Designs, those designers have a way to get their creations seen by a larger audience. Unbranded Designs, which operates out of the Merchandise Mart, was founded on the belief that designers should focus on creating amazing pieces without worrying too much about fundraising, manufacturing, and sales.

Here’s how it works: Anybody with a great concept can upload their prototype or rendering to Unbranded’s website. People in the design community and visitors to the site then get to vote on designs they love and help refine ones that may still need some work. For the top designs, Unbranded handles funding and works with local furniture makers to produce limited quantities.

The first piece to make its way through the process is now available to buy—the ISA Chair by Adele Cuartelon. It’s hand-crafted of solid walnut in Chicago. Visit the site now to vote on your favorite piece and you might be able to purchase it in the not-so-distant future.

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