SAH: You’ve written two books with the word “comfortable” in the title.
How does that fit with your company mandate?
MG I am not exaggerating when I tell you that no furniture company used the word “comfort” in 1989 – they only spoke about price and style. But it was an important issue. Comfort, for us, is not only about how a chair feels when you sit in it; it should also look comfortable, the price should be comfortable and the whole transaction should feel comfortable.
SAH: And to think all this stems from not being able to go into the living room when you were young!
MG Exactly! My family’s furniture wasn’t that comfortable growing up, and neither was Bob’s. In fact, his parents had a really scratchy sofa.
BW You couldn’t take a nap on it! It was a Brillo pad.
SAH: What are the key ingredients for a comfy home?
MG One of our mantras is “When a home has been furnished successfully, just walking in the door is like getting a hug.” It has to be inviting.
BW And it needs to be functional. It’s important for homeowners to decide how they want to use the room. Is it going to be a room where everybody watches TV? To lie down and relax? Or is this going to be a room where you are entertaining friends and family and want to encourage easy conversation?
SAH: What’s the most surprising thing in your homes?
BW The most surprising thing isn’t inside my home; it’s outside my home. And that’s the fact that I live in a big red-brick Georgian colonial, which is not what you’d expect. Of course, it’s filled with modern furniture and really shows how the two styles can come together.
MG I have an Adirondack kind of house. I think the thing that people make the most comments about is that they’re surprised that it’s not a bigger house, and that it’s so comfortable. When people visit, they’re a little intimidated at first... But when they walk in, they immediately feel this good energy.
SAH: How do you make your guests feel comfortable?
MG We’ve learned a lot over the years: to welcome people when they first come in the door, to make them feel at home right away, to tell them where the drinks are and to have music playing.
SAH: Do you have favourite entertaining music?
BW I have a mix of all my favourite songs, so it has no particular attitude – there’s country, a bit of rock ’n’ roll, some vintage songs and Top 40.
MG We had dinner at Bob and Steven’s [Steven Heavner is Bob’s partner] house on Monday night and they played a vast mix of things, but there’s a softness to it all. It’s not heavy metal.
SAH: What designers, architects and artists have influenced you?
MG Paul McCobb and Milo Baughman have beenbig for me.
BW Tommi Parzinger. He was German and became popular in the 1950s and ’60s for his accessories – metal wares that feel vintage and modern at the same time.
SAH: Where do you go or what do you do when you’re feeling uninspired?
MG Uninspired? Do we ever feel uninspired?
BW I’m a huge magazine fan, so any time I canget a chance to read through a magazine of any kind and find something that’s kind of inspiring, it takes about 10 minutes to get inspired again. Inspiration is everywhere!