The magazine that defined modern design for a generation of readers is extending its brand into the furniture realm. Following in the footsteps of publications such as Country Home and Better Homes and Gardens, Metropolitan Home is launching their own line of contemporary furniture called–appropriately enough–the Unveiled to the media at the Fall 2006 High Point International Furniture Market and scheduled to hit retail stores in March 2007, the contemporary furniture collection features more than 65 upholstered pieces and case goods marked by understated lines and rich–occasionally surprising–finishes. (Full disclosure: I occasionally contribute to Metropolitan Home.) To create the collection, the magazine turned to renowned interior designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. Long a fixture on Met Home’s pages, Noriega-Ortiz brings not only name recognition to the contemporary furniture line, but a sleek, sophisticated sensibility that’s modern but understated enough to allow pieces to be mixed and matched at ease. To encourage this, the designer eschewed traditional suites of furniture in favor of “lifestyle groupings” that can be combined together as the consumer sees fit.
Noriega-Ortiz treats furniture like sculpture, and underscored that point by eliminating any hardware that might interfere with an object’s lines. (Touch latches take the place of knobs.) Recognizing the magazine’s urban audience, the designer engineered pieces like the handsome Shelter Me Sofa so that the back separates from the base for easy transport (and fitting into high-rise elevators). Another strong entry was the Enclosure Nightstand–a deceptively simple block-shaped table boasting recesses of varying sizes, so it can be rotated depending on what size niche you want exposed. I also liked the Urnest Sideboard, with its flush front and rakish profile (shaped like urns–get it?). And just when it seems like there’s nothing new that could be done with a bar stool, Noriega-Ortiz comes up with Silhouette, an elegant creation with a generously padded seat, straight front legs and swooping rear supports that extend to support an open, rectangular back. Although prices aren’t available yet, spokesperson Dawn Brinson says pieces will be “accessibly priced.” Asked whether having its own furniture line might interfere with Met Home’s ability to serve as an impartial arbiter of style, Brinson replied, “They will treat the Met Home Collection just like any other collection.”