Afternoon Light Taps Into Online Design Boom – WWD

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Where can you find a Kartell bookworm shelf and a Dadaist challah bread menorah sculpted by Janie Korn all on one site?

Enter eclectic furnishings-to-decor e-commerce Afternoon Light, led by Deirdre Maloney and Minya Quirk, two ex-fashion veterans who have a knack for curating pieces from various contemporary movements. The website carries an assortment of products sourced from more than 230 global brands.

The duo first came together as business partners when they cofounded the Capsule and Shoppe Object trade shows. Now, they’ve re-emerged onto the design scene with an editorialized e-commerce destination for covetable home decor and furniture.

A few years after Capsule was acquired in 2014, they realized there was no one-stop solution for tasteful home furniture and decor, so Afternoon Light was born. “Home was really one of those areas that was calling our names,” Maloney reminisced.

In an interview with WWD, the duo said that in the near term, they are gearing up for physical activations/pop-ups in New York City and Los Angeles, a partnership with the Knot Registry, product exclusives and online tech and AI features.

Originally fueled by $1.2 million in pre-seed round funding from “associates or friends,” Quirk said, including actress Gabrielle Union and former NBA player Dwyane Wade, Baron Davis and rapper Pusha T, the platform saw a 48 percent jump in revenue in its third-quarter earnings this year, versus the second quarter of 2023.

Looking back, the inspiration for Afternoon Light was rooted in the founders’ frustrations with the “boring” array of online options for the design industry. “Modern furniture right now is all about a mix of styles, finding your own individual perspective. By mixing, it’s like things bounce around and there’s movement,” she added, noting that Afternoon Light aims to pull from different influences and movements.

A recent report from Research and Markets pegs the total combined value of the furnishings, home decor and improvement market at $340 billion in the U.S. Investors are catching on, ready to carve their own slices out of the sector.

Minya Quirk and Deirdre Maloney

Courtesy of Afternoon Light

There’s HomeThreads, which plans to use new AI technology and celebrity-driven curation to drive the online reality into a multibillion-dollar business. There’s also Abask, a design-focused site uniting whispered luxury names like Loretta Caponi for table linens, Venini’s Venetian glassware, Laboratorio Paravicini plates and hand-carved pieces by Qäsa Qäsa Carvers, a firm that preserves and financially supports the skills of Tanzania’s Makonde tribe. Abask was founded by Matchesfashion founder Tom Chapman and Nicolas Pickaerts, its former e-commerce director.

Fashion e-commerce sites are also tapping into the potential of interiors: LuisaViaRoma, Ssense, Mytheresa, Net-a-porter and Moda Operandi have all expanded into the home category in recent years.

Afternoon Light attempts to stand out with intriguing editorial content and envelope-pushing collabs, like the most recent one, with hip-hop icon Camella Ehlke, the founder of pioneering streetwear label Triple 5 Soul, for a series of limited-edition patchwork stockings — only 10 total. Each one is made from deadstock textiles from brands like Off-White.

Camella Ehlke stockings for Afternoon Light.

Afternoon Light’s collaboration with hip-hop icon Camella Ehlke.

Courtesy of Afternoon Light

Afternoon Light showcases well-known brands and niche ones alike: Italian lighting firm Flos, modern American furniture and design company Heller, and French American housewares designer Sophie Lou Jacobson among them.

“Our dream collaborators run the gamut from heritage brands and masters of their craft to cool artists, indie designers, and people we’ve admired along the way and going back through our fashion careers — a mixed bag as diverse as our interests and likes,” said Quirk, listing brands that range from more classic ones like Italy’s Ginori 1735 to more futuristic ones such as New York City and Paris-based Crosby Studios.

The name, they say, was born during the pandemic period, and was inspired by that time of day when the sun hits the home just right.

In terms of next steps, the aim is to simply keep growing. “I mean we still feel like there are so many more brands that could be on the site that could make sense with our curation and that we would love to have on board,” Quirk said.

Another aspect they will be focusing on is building trust among their U.S.-based clientele, through pop-ups and other activations to get face-to-face time, Quirk concluded.

“When you are offering things that cost up to $15,000 that face time is pretty valuable.”

Upstate Kokomo Glassware

Courtesy of Afternoon Light

Glassware by Upstate Kokomo.

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