Take 60: One-minute profiles of people to know
Justin Q. Williams
Welcome to Take 60, quick one-minute stories about new faces in our industry that might help you move the needle toward future success. and with time at a premium. Retailers, designers, manufacturers, and more — Take 60 covers them all, so check back each week for a new addition to the mix.
Furniture, Décor and Design: Justin Q. Williams/ Trademark Design Co.
Justin Q. Williams is one of six designers who are part of TOV Furniture’s Voice Collection, an upholstery and case goods collection that debuted at Spring High Point Market and promoted diversity along with new products. Based in Atlanta, Ga., Williams says that the positive reaction to the Voice collection in April “should serve as an eye opener to other manufacturers to make it their mission to not overlook groups of people that can contribute greatly to their business.”
FT: What were some of the reactions you personally heard that let you know the time was right for the Voice collection launch?
Williams: People were so excited for this launch. In transparency, though the pieces are AMAZING I think people felt that this was more of a breakthrough moment for the furniture and design industry. An entire group of people were finally being seen and acknowledged as just as good as their counterparts. I personally feel like I’m just a liaison. There are so many designers of color that are just as and even more talented than I am.
FT: Tell us about the pieces you designed.
Williams: The pieces that I designed are those that I felt that the industry was missing. Pieces that are not only stylish but also functional. My goal with design has always been function over fashion. My accent chairs are clean in style and versatile with whatever space you choose to use them in. You can use the Crystal chair as a desk chair or a fun chair in the corner of your room. The van chair is made in both velvet and vegan leather so it can be placed in a busy family room or a quaint bachelor’s pad. The Jessie Sectional, it’s modular so if you need a lot more space simply add pieces to it or maybe you’d like to make it U-shaped, versatility is key with these pieces. Finally, The Alon Console. This can be used in a foyer as an accent cabinet or under your television. Multifunctioning pieces that make an impact are my favorite and my pieces reflect that.
FT: Why is this collection important to the furniture industry, the retail industry, and consumers? What unique value does it bring to each group?
Williams: This collection should serve as an eye opener to other manufacturers to make it their mission to not overlook groups of people that can contribute greatly to their business. As for the retail industry, this collection shows that there are people out there waiting for new and exciting products created from black designers so why not provide them to your consumers?! Speaking of consumers, I can’t tell you how many buyers at market have been waiting to support black designers in this way. Literally bursting out the seams with excitement to purchase these pieces.
FT: Going forward, how can the industry support diversity and inclusion and why is it imperative to do so?
Williams: Representation has and will always matter. The industry can support diversity and inclusion by purposefully including designers of color seeing as to how we are oftentimes overlooked and underrepresented — featuring designers of color, inclusion in licensing deals, etc. This is so important as exposure helps to propel black businesses, but it’s also beneficial to the industry to guarantee that all are being represented equally.
FT: Finally, if you had to sum up your experience with this debut launch in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
Williams: My experience with this launch can be summed up by saying — the world has been waiting and I’m so glad that TOV was so brave in their initiative…The only thing that’s on my heart is gratitude. I’m so appreciative that TOV found a void and chose to fill it. My only hope is that other companies follow in their footsteps to continue filling that space so that all people are represented equally.
Fun facts about Justin Q. Williams:
- Favorite inspirational quote: “Have courage and be kind”
- Favorite design inspiration destination: Cape Town, South Africa
- Favorite way to spend a non-work day: Listening to music, lounging on the sofa, or walking with Alon (My Standard Poodle) around our neighborhood
- The one home furnishing item you will move with you every time you move: I have an antique chest that will probably remain with me for the rest of my life.
- What trend or cultural influence do you see becoming extremely important over the next couple of years? I think during current times, people have noticed how important it is to have family and friends accessible and that we’ve taken advantage of the ability to see them. So, in the home, I think what we’ll see more of are memories, whether they’re photos or items that mean something special to them because they’re a part of a shared moment.
I’m Cindy Hodnett, executive editor of brand development for BridgeTower Media’s Home Furnishings Division. Most recently, I worked in a marketing content development role, and now I’m putting my editor’s hat back on for Furniture Today, Home Accents Today, Gifts & Decorative Accessories, Designers Today, Home Textiles Today and Home Furnishings News. My first introduction to the trade side of home furnishings was as an editor for FT in 2012 and founding editor of Designers Today in 2015, and now I’m once again working alongside some of the industry’s most dedicated professionals to keep our readers informed about the events, people, and companies that impact their business.