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Furniture Today spoke with Tina Anthony, co-founder, creative director and lead designer at Nathan Anthony based in California.
FT: The Metaverse is growing in popularity and you showcased a collection at the April High Point Market where certain products were available for purchase for the Metaverse. What inspired you to make your products available for purchase with NFTs?
Tina: At the High Point April Market, Nathan Anthony presented a high-end collection of chairs and bar stools called ÆTHR, which is the result of our collaboration with multimedia artist Sahara Novotna. Original artwork is featured on the backs of the chairs.
Both the artist and I are fascinated by news about decentralization and cryptocurrencies, which informed our first artistic theme for the collection. Additionally, Sahara is enmeshed in the world of NFTs, which is more common today in the art business. We thought it would be fun to bring that energy to the furnishing space. Developing NFT made sense for our brand, since Nathan Anthony is already known for fusing art with design to create new looks in furniture.
FT: If you had to explain an NFT or the metaverse with three chips, what would you say?
Tina: The simplest description of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) is that they are unique digital files that exist on the blockchain and cannot be replicated. Some NFT arts have attracted a lot of attention, such as Bored Ape (Bored Ape Yacht Club). NFTs can also be a digital creation of real-world objects, such as a dining chair. NFTs have financial value and can be traded on various platforms such as Opensea, Coinbase or Rarible.
The Metaverse is an all-digital, fully immersive virtual world, with or without VR hardware like the Oculus headset. You can buy a virtual mansion through a metaverse realtor, for example, and decorate that space with virtual furniture, such as our ÆTHR bar stools (if you have one of the NFTs).
I know to some people it sounds a bit fantastical, but there’s an audience for it. How this will play out in our industry is yet to be determined.
FT: What do you think is more valuable to companies selling NFTs: the actual revenue from selling NFTs or the brand awareness that comes with it?
Tina: Good question; for Nathan Anthony, we viewed the initial NFT exercise as a branding tool, and being the first in the High Point market with an NFT gives us good PR. Eventually, there may be revenue opportunities, although this is not our priority, and we cannot predict metaverse adoption rates.
FT: What do you think are the opportunities at hand in the metaverse for retailers and manufacturers?
Tina: I think the metaverse is a space to watch and observe at this point. Future generations of digital natives may spend a lot of time in these worlds of their own creation. In the meantime, manufacturers and retailers must sell physical products that go to physical spaces.
From a digital perspective, I think the low-hanging fruit for our industry is to continue to adopt existing tools to optimize the user experience on websites, using augmented reality and virtual reality to help the shopper to visualize personalization options, streamline the buying process, and improve direct marketing efforts with Data Analytics.
FT: What three tips would you give to a company ready to start making their products available for the metaverse?
Tina: The Metaverse is an alternate reality, and it’s still early in the game. Companies will want to research and get to know the space before investing time and money. Brands need to make sure they have an audience ready to do this.
Five fun facts about Tina Anthony:
- Do you have a home in the Metaverse? My husband and I have no imminent plans to buy a house in the Metaverse; it remains to be seen if our college-aged son will choose to own properties in this virtual world.
- How does your virtual home differ from your physical home? I think of my son who currently lives in a dorm at school. If he chose to spend time virtually in his dream home, what would it be like? It could be a 48,000 square foot virtual modern home with its own cinema room, a jacuzzi pool with a lounge and fire pit, a music studio and a 700 square foot dressing room to store Nike Cryptokicks (virtual sneakers) in all colors.
- How do you relax when you’re not working on anything Nathan Anthony related? I like to keep my head in the real world, with four wheels on solid ground. I often spend weekends at race tracks or take epic road trips around the western states, driving my 2021 Porsche 718 Spyder Roadster with the Porsche Club of Los Angeles.
- What’s your favorite piece you’ve created for Nathan Anthony to date? Nathan Anthony’s core competency is large-scale customization options for our bench padding, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. The new dining chairs and bar stools are very exciting to me as they help us develop a new product category.
Personally, I had so much fun in the process of collaborating with Sahara Novotna, and the Graffiti Doodle item is truly one of a kind. Beyond the exclusive artwork, I really like the design of the chair frame we created in-house, which is now available in our regular range.
- What is one life advice you like to follow? Take risks and be grateful no matter the outcome.