Next GenerationAuthor:Abigail Stone
In the interior design world, few heritage labels have managed to achieve the milestone of A. Rudin. Celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, the Southern California-based furniture business has an impeccable reputation for well-designed, comfortable pieces. Crafted from locally sourced materials and bench-made in their spotless 120,000-square-foot factory located just south of downtown L.A., their upholstered furniture and case goods— alongside a selection of lighting, accessories and art—are sold exclusively to the trade through their four elegant showrooms located in L.A., San Francisco, Chicago and New York.
But it takes more than exemplary production values or flawless taste to achieve longevity. For a legacy brand, success— indeed, survival—depends on a company’s adherence to the principles upon which it was founded, its ability to reshape itself to address the needs of a new generation, and grit: a combination of ingenuity and agility, passion and perseverance. Fortunately, that’s part and parcel of A. Rudin’s DNA.
A talent for adaptation and reinvention is woven into its history, beginning with Russian- born immigrant Morris Rudin. Rudin, who’d learned the upholstery trade in San Francisco, headed to L.A. on a motorcycle. There he would earn a respected reputation as a furniture maker and upholsterer, finally launching his own shop out of a garage in 1912. Buoyed by his entrepreneurial spirit, his talents for craftsmanship and his eye for design, the business quickly grew to encompass manufacturing and retail as Rudin’s Furniture. Morris’s son Arnold expanded their manufacturing capabilities and stretched the roster to encompass a wide range of artists and designers and added case goods, lighting, accessories and art to their catalog.
Ralph Rudin, the third generation, joined his father in business in the 1970s and continued the family’s tradition of innovation and transformation. In honor of his father, he rebranded the company as A. Rudin and consolidated the business, closing its retail outlets and channeling the company’s expertise to cater exclusively to the design trade. Repositioning stores as showrooms, he moved into the newly formed design centers like the Pacific Design Center showroom, working with high-end interior designers and architects, including Jeff Andrews, Sue Firestone and Jeffrey Alan Marks, who appreciated the beauty of Rudin’s meticulous construction and carried the news to their illustrious clients. “It’s really cool to see some of our older pieces, like Steve Chase designs from the ’80s, being regarded as vintage and collectible,” says Ralph’s son, Spencer, who, along with his brother Evan, comprise the fourth generation.
Schooled in the company’s workings from a young age, from factory floor to corporate office, Spencer and Evan are prepared to take A. Rudin into the next century, if not beyond, starting with the launch of two new companies that draw on the family’s expertise in creating quality pieces that last: Rudin, a contract division that addresses the changing needs of hotels and offices, and Evan Spencer, a focused collection of sofas, chairs, ottomans and benches selling directly to consumers.
“I think we all discovered over the last few years how important comfort is, whether you’re working or relaxing,” Evan shares. “It’s inspired by surf culture and the artists that we know and birthed out of a need to have a really easy way of ordering high-quality furniture,” Spencer explains. In addition to online, the pieces will be available via a pop-up in each of A. Rudin’s showrooms. “This is furniture to live in, not just look at,” stresses Spencer. “We want to be the fun at the center of the home. We want the kids to make pillow forts from our cushions.”
The 10 pieces in the debut collection, which concentrate on providing the core pieces people need, pay homage to the legendary West Coast beaches that formed the backdrop to Spencer and Evan’s childhood. “Our family name speaks to a lineage of next-level luxury,” says Spencer. “With Evan Spencer, we’re making that attainable to a large demographic who aren’t working with interior designers but want that same high caliber.”
Like A. Rudin’s trade offerings, the pieces are meticulously created one at a time in true bespoke fashion. “At the heart of what we do will always be quality and comfort,” says Spencer. “The aesthetics of a collection are really important but at the end of the day, if it doesn’t sit well and it isn’t made well, we don’t want our name on it.” What’s in a name? When it comes to A. Rudin and furniture—everything.
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