You could call it a “case” of responding to a need, namely for fine customized furniture at a reasonable price. Bonus: every item in the CASE by Cocoon line is designed and made by la crème of skilled local artisans.
“The line’s name actually was inspired by case goods, a term used in the industry when talking about non-upholstered furniture that also is highly functional,” says Glyn Austin, co-owner and director of design at Cocoon Furnishings, the Oakville store she founded 16 years ago.
The interior designer has found that an increasing number of clients want case good items that are not standard order. Such as the woman who had searched tirelessly for more than a year for a nightstand. It had to be ultra-narrow to fit the micro-condo bedroom, with a certain style and finish. In the end, a pricey custom solution seemed inevitable — but what if there were a better way?
Glyn and partner David Austin, the store’s co-owner, developed the CASE by Cocoon concept in 2017. Customers begin by selecting from more than a dozen basic styles of cabinets or frames to create their own versatile items. That includes everything from beds and dressers to storage cabinets and buffets to media stands and cocktail tables. “Each can be customized in myriad ways: drawers added or subtracted, a straight leg swapped for a tapered one, a metal or plinth base added, and so forth,” says Glyn.
They also decide which kiln-dried Canadian hardwood – such as maple or oak – will be used. Stain or paint colour selection comes next, followed by other optional add-ons. These might include a stone top, mirrored drawers or doors covered in shagreen or other trendy texture.
And beyond good looks, CASE by Cocoon meets a growing need for multi-functional furniture, says David, who heads the manufacturing team. “For their nightstand, a client might want a certain number of USB ports and hidden power bar, or a special drawer to accommodate a CPAP machine,” he says. “We’ve also embedded remote-controlled lifts so televisions can rise out of a media cabinet when in use. It can get complicated, but we like the challenge.”
Customers typically begin by expressing their vision to Cocoon’s client managers, who help to refine them. Then the team, headed by David, who has a background in architecture and computer technology, takes over. He and the design team translate their wish lists into technical drawings and specifications. The client also receives an image for their approval of what the final item would look like.
Cocoon next determines which of the highly skilled craftspeople in the company’s network would be best for which step of the project. “We work with some of the best woodworkers, stone fabricators, metalworkers and finishers in the business,” says Glyn. A wood nightstand with a metal base, for example, might first be sent to a cabinetmaker, next to a metalworker, and then to a specialist in applying stain, paint and protective coatings.
Once completed, the nightstand is sent to Cocoon for inspection to ensure every drawer glides softly shut, every dovetail joint is perfect. Then custom hardware is applied, and the item is prepared for white-glove delivery. All for a reasonable price.
“CASE by Cocoon products are also a green solution,” says David. “Because they are made locally, the carbon footprint is reduced. And we use only water-based paints and stains.” •
Originally posted in the Toronto Summer 2019 issue.