JANUS et Cie President and CEO Janice Feldman has been a pioneer in the high-end outdoor furnishings business since 1978 when she opened her first showroom in the Pacific Design Center. A trained artist and interior designer, Feldman saw the potential for well-designed outdoor furniture, as well as outdoor spaces to become stylish extensions of the home, long before most of her competitors. Acute attention to materials and unrelenting innovation have been key drivers; the development of a proprietary all-weather, high-performance, 100 percent recyclable weave called JANUSfiber™ is one example.
Feldman’s commitment to high design has placed the company — which now operates 15 to-the-trade showrooms and offers furniture from designers and architects such as Paola Navone, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy and Michael Vanderbyl — in an enviable position in the marketplace. Poltrana Frau Group and Haworth acquired the majority share in JANUS et Cie earlier this year with an eye toward expanding sales via Haworth’s international sales and distribution platforms.
Feldman remains actively involved in the company from her new showroom base in Singapore, where we recently caught up with her. You can see the JANUS et Cie line during High Point Market, Oct. 22-26, in IHFC M130.
Home Fashion Forecast: How did you end up in the outdoor furniture business?
Janice Feldman: I started selling predominantly contract furniture. In fact, the first JANUS et Cie showroom at Pacific Design Center held office furniture, but economic shifts in the 1990s opened up new markets. Experts predicted we would all have more leisure time, and I figured the people who had it would be spending it close to home in their own backyards. That was the catalyst, and it all came together beautifully — better than I could have ever imagined.
HFF: Was outdoor furniture even a product category when you started out?
JF: The industry was in its naissance at the time, and there were few outdoor design players. I drew inspiration from interior influences such as Henri Matisse, Isamu Noguchi, Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames and Richard Neutra, all powerful forces who inspired my decision to bring high design to the exterior.
HFF: In what ways do you think you have influenced the outdoor industry?
JF: Some of our best-selling collections are engineered with post-consumer recyclable synthetic woods and fibers that are clean to manufacture. Our focus has always been on innovating original materials of lasting quality and using renewable resources, and this has had an impact across the industry.
HFF: How would you describe the current state of the outdoor furnishings market?
JF: Couldn’t be better! The market is strong right now, and growing remarkably fast, which is exciting as we continue to expand globally. We’re seeing growth in all sectors — residential, hospitality, contract and marine.
HFF: What are the drivers behind residential growth?
JF: People are embracing the outdoors as an extension of the interior living space and are more invested than ever. I find that the most compelling spaces combine impeccable design and practicality to create a sanctuary where family and friends can gather.
HFF: What trends do you see driving the outdoor business going forward?
JF: All sectors are increasingly embracing exteriors as an extension of the interior, and this breeds more opportunity for design. Hotels and corporate campuses are booming and really striving to design more engaging environments. Trends in office design are moving toward a collaborative workspace, away from the traditional four walls and a desk. What’s thrilling for us is being a part of an installation that crafts a dynamic, interactive space that inspires.