December 6, 2023

When AD100 designer Jake Arnold and entrepreneur Leo Seigal launched The Expert in 2021, the online design consultation service was a more affordable means for consumers to access the industry’s top talents, as well as a scalable new revenue source for designers. Since then—and $15 million in VC funding later—the company has been an outlier in what’s proven to be a challenging niche

Leo Seigal and Jake Arnold, cofounders of The Expert

Photo: Michael Clifford

Just what that infusion of capital is helping build will be evident this week: Today the platform is figuratively cutting the ribbon on Showroom, its new e-commerce platform, which launches with approximately 1,500 goods from more than 50 vendors. A portion of the offering—which includes exclusive custom designs—is also now on view in the company’s inaugural storefront, a 2,000-square-foot space flooded with natural light and open by appointment in LA’s West Adams neighborhood. Topping off the grand expansion is the debut of The Expert Collection, an in-house and made-to-order furniture collection.

“I’m so excited to finally have one place with all the things that I absolutely love—and that the designers on the platform love—in one-stop shopping,” Arnold tells AD PRO. That includes furniture and decor from design-world favorites such as Apparatus, Nickey Kehoe, Anna Karlin, and Lawson Fenning, as well as previously trade-only brands including Pierre Frey, Rose Tarlow, and Woven, among others. Having direct access to makers that designers already know and adore, Arnold says, also offers a selection for The Expert’s featured designers (of which there are 145 to date) to recommend during their client consultations.

A vignette at the newly opened LA gallery shows the breadth of The Expert’s offering, from the vintage settee to the art via Creative Art Partners. A Nordic Knots rug, a Frama (via Goodee) stool, a Lawson-Fenning chair, and a Rose Tarlow floor lamp round out the space.

Photo: Michael Clifford

It’s really a symbiotic strategy. With a clientele eager for designer advice, integrating purchases on-site simply makes sense: “Many of our designers are trying to find opportunities to monetize their following and expertise in ways that are a lot more scalable,” Seigal notes. “We want to be able to provide the most turnkey, authentic, revenue-generating opportunities for our roster.” In this vein, The Expert is also collaborating with five of its featured designers—Arnold, Heidi Caillier, Jenna Lyons, Brigette Romanek, and Mark D. Sikes—to curate virtual showrooms that highlight the new products. “These are real designer-loved products that are now accessible to all and in many cases with their own customized spin,” Seigal says, hinting at the designers’ custom “mashups” of furniture and upholstery, sold exclusively through Showroom. 

Caillier’s 160-piece Showroom selection, for example, features a Lawson-Fenning curved-back sectional that the designer opted to upholster with the moody 17th century–inspired Schwarzwald textile from Dedar. A Shoppe by Amber Interiors bed frame covered in Rose Tarlow’s tailored Gigi linen is also in the mix. “The final selections have been very considered and are a reflection of culling through a lot of product and pulling out what we really love,” Caillier shares. 

The Portola lounge chair by Lawson-Fenning upholstered in Pierre Frey’s Sascha fabric. The piece is exclusively available in Romanek’s showroom on The Expert.

Shoppe Amber Interiors’ Hearst Bed covered in Kravet’s Nevis fabric. The piece is exclusively available in Callier’s showroom on The Expert.

The Frame lounge chair by Lawson-Fenning in Schumacher’s Dazzle Ship fabric. The piece is exclusively available in Lyons’s showroom on The Expert.

In addition to these hand-picked capsules, which Seigal says will evolve over time, the shoppable highlights include furnishings from Disc Interiors (previously only available via the firm’s website), a vintage section, and original works selected from fine arts consultancy Creative Art Partners. Yet perhaps the most highly anticipated line is that of The Expert itself. Consisting of seating and tables made under the creative direction of Arnold, with additions from other designers to come, The Expert Collection is available to shop online and in the newly unveiled LA gallery. 

The collection—much like The Expert’s consultation platform—isn’t meant to be one-note, but rather powered by many talented voices. “It’s not about being all modern, or traditional, or one thing. We’re able to tap a way in for lots of different styles and price points,” says Jessica Romm Perez, vice president of partnerships at The Expert and Showroom. “We’ve been able to accomplish something that does feel entirely new.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *