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When it comes to something as subjective as interior design, it can be hard to know what’s high-quality and what’s cheap, what’s stylish and what’s tacky, and what’s timeless and what’s only trendy for now.
In those situations, it’s always a good idea to look towards experts in the interior design field. If the people who are in the know are raving about one brand or one designer, then it’s certainly a pairing worth your attention.
One such example? Coco Republic and its Creative Director Anthony Spon-Smith.
The Australian furniture brand is known for its playful styles and high-quality furniture, and their showrooms in Australia are legendary for their awe-inspiring size, beautiful displays, and fabulous restaurants. Now, the brand is finally making its long-awaited debut in the United States, and North American interior designers are all abuzz with what it means for their clients.
Keep reading to learn more about Coco Republic and why their new Californian showrooms are causing such a stir in the interior design industry — or head over to their website and see their classic, stylish designs for yourself.
What Is Coco Republic?
If you’re unfamiliar with Coco Republic, don’t worry: Many American consumers are. Coco Republic is a legendary brand for our friends down under. Here’s a brief overview of how the brand became such a powerhouse.
An Australian Legacy
Originally founded in the late 1970s, Coco Republic has gone through several evolutions to get to the brand name it is today. The company was formed by Paul Spon-Smith and is now helmed by his son, the celebrated interior designer Anthony Spon-Smith. However, Coco Republic wasn’t always the design powerhouse we know today.
In the early 2000s, Coco Republic restructured its business, transforming itself into a department store and carrying various other brands in addition to its own label. What they found was that launching other brands within their stores often failed to make an impact.
When Coco Republic pivoted to promoting their own label and working directly with factories, magic happened. Now, eighty to ninety percent of their business is selling their own designs. What started as a house of brands is now a branded house.
In Australia, Coco Republic is known for its shopping experience. With fifteen locations, Coco Republic showrooms are massive, elegant, and include high-quality restaurants.
An Aesthetic Leader
On that note, it’s worth digging into Coco Republic’s signature aesthetic and design leadership, as those aspects are a large reason why the brand is such a favorite among designers.
In addition to his role as creative director and co-owner of Coco Republic, Anthony Spon-Smith is a celebrated furniture designer. He is also part of Restoration Hardware’s Artisan collective and sells his own label within the American heavyweight brand, many of which are best-sellers.
Spon-Smith is known for his sleek, beachy, and livable aesthetics, which merge the indoor and the outdoor, very much in line with his Australian upbringing.
Coco Republic’s energy, led by Spon-Smith, is sought after by many, which is why the brand constitutes a variety of entrepreneurial efforts. In addition to their retail shops and furniture lines, Coco Republic is also a commercial design group, helping hotels and other chain establishments design their interior experiences.
This expertise is what makes Coco Republic such a respected brand among those in the industry.
A Design Educator
In addition to their showrooms, furniture label, and commercial business, Coco Republic also has its own school. The school brings up-and-coming designers through a program designed to push their creativity and inspire the next generation of interior artists.
Coco Republic’s commitment to high-quality design is no joke. The brand has come to symbolize a well-designed life, using their various businesses to influence and shape every corner of interiors — pun very much intended.
What Sets Coco Republic Apart?
Many large-scale furniture businesses could argue they create high-quality, stylish pieces — so what sets Coco Republic apart, and why are so many interior designers absolutely raving about this brand?
Made To Order, High-Quality Items
When it comes to furniture, the buck stops at quality. With so many flat-pack and discount furniture brands these days, it seems that quality has suffered from a widening gap in the market. The best quality designs are priced out of an accessible range for most consumers, and their more affordable counterparts totally forgo quality for cheap, non-sustainable materials.
As a result, the industry is plagued with a throwaway culture in which more and more consumers are willing to toss their furniture, even after only a few years of use — or less.
Coco Republic does things differently. While the brand isn’t targeting bargain furniture design, it is focused on making exceptional design more accessible. They’re focused on building a more sustainable interior design industry with goals including sourcing more timber from regeneration forests and reclaimed timber suppliers as well as recycling fabric off-cuts.
By embracing sustainable practices, while prioritizing the highest quality of goods, Coco Republic has set itself apart from its competitors, making better furniture available for more people.
Whimsy and Playfulness
To that end, part of what makes Coco Republic such a cult classic is its embracing of fun and quirky design. While they produce sleek and streamlined furniture that you can easily see fitting into any home, they’re also not afraid to experiment with form and color.
Spon-Smith says this is another key differentiating factor between Coco Republic and its competitors. In an industry obsessed with beige and design styles that haven’t been updated since the late nineteenth century, Coco Republic offers a bit more “flavor.”
They’re one of the great furniture brands when it comes to selling their customers a unique item. For a brand of its size, that’s really saying something. If you want something that looks like it could only belong in your home without the price tag of paying an interior designer, Coco Republic is the shop for you.
Laid Back and Lived In
Interior design walks a delicate line. You truly cannot put a price on taste. Knowing the furniture that will stand the test of time and fill out your space rather than sucking up all the air is a skill. But a few hours in a Coco Republic showroom will offer some relief — they’ve done much of the hard work for you.
Coco Republic’s designs are committed to merging traditional styles with progressive forms. Their furniture is both timeless and modern and is, refreshingly, designed to be used. You know when you get a new piece of furniture, and it looks so pristine that you can hardly bring yourself to use it? That’s not the case for Coco Republic.
Their designs are sleek but liveable, blending effortlessly into whatever rooms they’re brought into. Experts especially love how they bring together indoor and outdoor aesthetics. Coco Republic’s showrooms evoke that feeling, with bright and airy spaces that look comfortable without looking drab.
It’s a tricky thing to pull off, and all the more impressive that Coco Republic has done it successfully for so long.
Coco Republic’s Debut in the United States
With all of this hype and decades of brand-building, it’s no wonder that Coco Republic’s entry to the United States market is causing such a stir.
It's been a long time coming. For the last few years, Coco Republic has been available in select HD Buttercup stores, a furniture store located in California. Now, the brands have merged, giving Coco Republic an infrastructure to build and scale its business out of America.
The brand opened up a new flagship in San Francisco's historic Union Square, taking over a space that was previously occupied by Crate and Barrel. Customers of that store will find this new space unrecognizable, as Coco Republic has filled it with its signature taste and products.
We expect the Australian aesthetic will quickly find its audience in California, as the beachy vibe and the interior/exterior ethos is already popular there.
There’s no restaurant inside Coco Republic’s San Francisco location yet, but who knows? As American audiences became acquainted and enchanted with Coco Republic’s point of view, their stores could become destinations in the U.S., just like they are in Australia.
On that front, San Franciscans soon won’t be the only lucky few who have access to showrooms.
The brand is opening several more showrooms in Southern California later this year and is also planning to debut its e-commerce business for the first time in early Spring 2023. For interior designers, this online retail business plan is a godsend, making these high-quality and timeless designs far more accessible to customers across the country.
Maybe it’s just us, but we have a funny feeling we’ll be seeing Coco Republic’s lines appearing in American interior tours and hotel chains very soon. Until then, be sure to follow Coco Republic on Instagram for your daily dose of design-envy, and check out their website to experience the Coco Republic difference.