Design-minded Millennials — who might be in the market to drop $50,000 on a coffee table — have a new online destination, The Scope.
Launching today from freelance fashion/design journalist Alicia Brunker, the site is self-described as a “shoppable editorial platform showcasing design from established and emerging talent” that is both an e-commerce site mixing the likes of 1stdibs and The Line, and a membership club for designers with an off-line, IRL component.
Brunker, who has written for T Magazine, Architectural Digest, Elle and, yes, WWD, found herself transitioning somewhat naturally into design stories over the course of her freelance career.
“More than fashion, I feel like it has a bit more substance and it’s more everlasting, where the fashion cycle, it just goes so fast,” Brunker says. “I’ve been hearing this a lot from my designers: one of them used to work in fashion and it’s like, you put out a product, and in a six-month period it’s already over. With design, it lasts for decades; people are still using Hans Wegner chairs that are from the mid-century. That part really intrigued me: the history, and then the timeless quality.”
She also sees home design as a more personal form of self-expression.
“With fashion, you can obviously express yourself with what you wear, but I feel that your home is so much more personal, because you’re living with these objects every day,” Brunker says. “You’re not just changing in and out.”
The Scope’s site is designed as a hybrid between an e-commerce site and a shoppable magazine. “When I’m reading Architectural Digest or Elle Décor, you can’t immediately go and buy what’s in the story,” she says. “I feel like the Editorialist has done this with fashion, Into the Gloss has done it with beauty and makeup, but there’s nothing that really exists for the home market.”
The site launches with eight designers, a mostly New York-based crew though Brunker hopes to expand into Europe in the coming months. Designers get a proper profile on the site as well as lengthy descriptions for their goods — all copy is written by Brunker, done in the style of a feature she might do for AD — and in addition, the designers are then members of The Scope’s in-person network, which means they have access to different talks, events, dinner parties and pop-up shops that The Scope will curate.
The events will consist of people both within the design community and those in adjacent industries, like fashion and art. “People who are in fashion have beautiful homes and strong knowledge about architecture and design,” Brunker says. “[The goal is] creating a community and more of a talk about what constitutes luxury. Looking beyond aesthetics is what I want to do with the products, which is why we have the editorial descriptions for the products.”
Her target consumer is someone in their 30s who has cultivated a sense of personal style and wants to invest in furniture or lighting but is put off by the fancy showroom experience.
“It’s a happy medium because you’re not just blindly putting something in your bag, in your shopping cart online. You have some context, and it replaces the conversation that you would have in a showroom with a salesperson,” she says. “For me especially, when I first started going into design I wanted to know every little detail, and I think they do, too. When they have something in their home, if someone comments on it, you have something intellectual to say, and it gives it more of a story, like a piece of art that’s hanging on the wall.”
Her background as an editor comes into play as to how she selects the designers and which products end up on the site.
“I want something that’s just not run-of-the-mill, mass produced,” she says. Membership is offered at three different levels, beginning at $5,000 annually and rising to $22,000. The top-tier members receive The Scope’s help at planning an event dedicated to their brand, with press and high-profile buyers in attendance, but all members receive a profile on the site, invites to the events, and placement in The Scope’s newsletter. It in effect fills the role of a publicist for these emerging designers, who might not be able to pay retainer fees for a big agency.
“It’s not a listing fee; this is just upfront, this is what you’re paying, everything’s inclusive,” Brunker says.
The main motivation for Brunker, though, is allowing more niche designers she has fallen for to have their work widely seen.
“No one knows about these amazing designers, and I think telling their story and showing their products and the beauty is really important,” she says.
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