Toledano, who believes that surrounding yourself with beautiful and intentional things creates a beautiful and intentional life, set out to start an online-only company that engineers products from the ground up, creating pieces that start at an incredible price point without sacrificing on quality.
A computer engineer by trade, Toledano saw the furniture industry as “local stores trying to hit a design level and hit a design level at a price.” However, the problem with matching aesthetically pleasing design with a desirable price was that retailers were buying products from third parties. This limits the amount of control they have over the price point, because they have to make a profit from the sale of the piece as well.
“The supply chain didn’t equate to the solution consumers were trying to seek,” Toledano said, and he reimagined a more effective solution that would create the attractive designs customers were looking for at an equally attractive price by eliminating third party retailers and selling directly from their website.
To do this, Modloft started “at ground zero,” which in the furniture industry is supply chain.
“We break down our products into raw materials and manufacture them in countries that specialize in those raw materials,” Toledano said.
“We discovered many years ago that countries like Brazil have tremendous natural resources in wood and leather, and so we design many products made from those raw materials in Brazil and manufacture them in certain parts of the country where it's advantageous to produce it.”
For materials like glass and fabric, Modloft utilizes materials produced in Italy.
To achieve the results in quality and price that they’re looking for, “we’re very selective about how we approach that process,” Toledano says, “it’s at the level of engineering that we’re able to manufacture a product at the price level we’re seeking.”
However, that engineer puzzle doesn’t end upon import to the U.S.
When the product arrives in the United States, Modloft’s “number one challenge is logistics,” Toledano says, “we’re moving oversized product from the east coast to the west coast, over 3000 miles on the road with fragile furniture. It’s not easy.”
Attention To Detail
Although it might seem counterintuitive, Toledano considers his background in computer engineering to be an asset in the furniture industry.
“My background as a computer engineer lends really well with respect to detail,” Toledano said. “I have always felt that detail in a product is a touch point consumers make that either makes them love [a product] or just think of it as a nice piece to have in their home. At Modloft, we want people to fall in love with our products, and that’s only going to come from attention to detail.”
"At Modloft, we want people to fall in love with our products, and that’s only going to come from attention to detail.”
A recent example of Modloft’s innovative attention to detail was in developing the Santos Foosball Table. The Santos Table, part of Modloft’s popular “games category,” took a year to develop in part because of the “unique movement, curves, and shapes in the wood.”
Additionally, Modloft’s design team encountered a unique problem: they realized that traditional paint would be destroyed by the speed of the ball repeatedly hitting the table. To solve this problem, according to Toledano, “we went to the automotive industry and said, ‘give us the paint that you’re using on cars, that can take a beating, because we’re going to need it for our furniture.”
However, it wasn’t until the last minute that Modloft’s development team realized that they needed to use automotive paint on the table.
“When you’re designing a product such as the Santos Table, you do everything except one thing: play the game,” Toledano said, “you design it, you think it through, you create the shape that you want, you imagine the colors, but you never play the game.”
It wasn’t until the 11th hour, when the Santos Table was ready to be memorialized, that the team decided to actually play it.
“On the first pass, within minutes, someone scored a goal, and the ball ricocheted off the bank and shook the paint. We said, ‘we forgot about that. We forgot about gameplay.’” The team went back to the lab to solve the problem, resulting in the use of automotive paint.
“You have to constantly be ready to understand how a product behaves in someone’s home,” Toledano said, “we learned that lesson.”
Creating a Beautiful and Intentional Life
When it comes to the importance of design in someone’s home, Toledano believes that, “we live in a time where there’s a lot of chaos around us. Sometimes we need a place in our day to decompress and relax, and there’s no better place than home to achieve that. The functional style that furniture brings to the home brings both physical and emotional comfort to one’s life”
“We live in a time where there’s a lot of chaos around us. Sometimes we need a place in our day to decompress and relax, and there’s no better place than home to achieve that.
Through his work at Modloft, Toledano brings his beliefs about the role of furniture into the company’s mission. He says,“when you’re surrounded by beautiful objects, products that make you feel a certain way, then you’ve hit a different level of achievement and brand.”
Overall, Toledano wants his team at Modloft to design products that make customers feel.
“That’s the angle we come at this from. We’re trying to design products that people can feel when they use it, when they interact with it, when they sit on it. They feel a certain way, and that certain way is a combination of achievement, accomplishment, and comfort, but comfort more in the esoteric way of life, not just physical comfort,” Toledano said.
Designing a Product to Feel
To ascertain that “esoteric feeling” from furniture that Toledano mentions, starts the very second someone sees the piece.
“It starts with what the person sees the first minute that they walk into their home. That’s the beginning point,” Toledano says, “every product in your space, when you first walk in to a room, elicits some kind of emotion. That emotion can be exhilarating."
“Every product in your space, when you first walk in to a room, elicits some kind of emotion. That emotion can be exhilarating."
At Modloft, Toledano says that his team is “looking to create a certain emotion the first time someone sees the product. We put a lot of stress on our designers to design a product that meets that criteria.”
Toledano wants to impart to his team that keeping that feeling of exhilaration top of mind is of the utmost priority.
“We think about those things when we’re designing our products, and that’s why we say: by surrounding yourself with beautiful things, you’ll have a beautiful life,” Toledano said.