My name is Manuel, and I design and manufacture original, mid-century-inspired furniture. I work from my home studio in Madrid, and I produce all of my furniture through a network of local workshops. My shop is called Habitables.
I’ve always liked furniture design, but I didn’t start designing and making my own furniture until a few years ago, when I moved to a new house with my family. We had a hard time finding furniture we liked with the right measurements, so I made the crazy decision to make a go at it; I refreshed my CAD, 3-D and Photoshop knowledge and started producing sketch after sketch of the furniture I envisioned. Soon, I made my first bedside table, and the story goes on from there…
The main difficulty I faced in the beginning was identifying a workshop that would produce my prototypes at an affordable price. At the time, I still hadn’t discovered Etsy, and I didn’t know what I was going do with the furniture I was making. After visiting a great number of workshops, I started meeting people who believed in my design. Meeting these people and developing relationships with them is how I prefer to do business.
My favorite thing to design is custom furniture for my clients; it’s very powerful and interesting. I enjoy the process of sending a client sketches and photos of the actual production. I believe the future is in the hands of “manutailers” – manufacturers that become retailers and sell directly to the public. Sites like Etsy connect producers and users seamlessly; they level the playing field and make furniture production sustainable. I can’t compete with Ikea, in terms of price, but I can certainly compete in terms of quality, durability, and above all, exclusivity.
It’s been more than a year since I opened my shop, and in that time, I’ve been able to quit my job and fully dedicate myself to Habitables. I’ve even hired my first employee – a carpenter who runs production and quality control. My decision to sell on Etsy has been crucial. A year ago, I couldn’t have dreamed of being where I am now. I’m so thankful for the attention we’ve received from Etsy members, and I look forward to developing as a business and as members of this amazing community!
All photographs by Habitables.