Decorating & Design - Inside Design

Inside design: Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams

Co-founders Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams of the furniture empire Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams tell us about their styles, inspirations and influences.

With a respect for the environment, a dedication to charity and a company culture that fosters success, Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams don’t just produce beautiful furniture – they create quality pieces with a conscience.

Photography courtesy of Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams

STYLE AT HOME: Tell us how you met and joined forces.

Mitchel Gold We met at a bar in New York – [Bob] was adorable, wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a long Lacoste shirt with Madras Bermuda shorts – and we started dating. By summertime, all we could talk about was starting a business together. We bought property to start a vineyard and Christmas tree farm in Virginia, but about a month later I was promoted at my regular job and we moved to North Carolina. We started the furniture business after that.

SAH: Why did moving mean a different business model?
MG In 1989, we noticed people were staying in more, entertaining at home rather than going out, so we saw an opportunity in the dining niche. We envisioned a little business with 20 to 25 customers, working four days a week, but it took off right away. We sold thousands of chairs the first year!
Bob Williams And we’ve never worked four days a week!

SAH: We’ve heard a lot about the strength of your company culture...
MG It was selfish, really: We wanted to see smiling faces at work. When we first bought the factory, it wasn’t air–conditioned and we couldn’t believe how hot it was. That was typical of factories in the ’90s, but we thought it was ridiculous. We saved our money for a whole year and, in the spring, had air conditioning installed, and that was just the start. Now we have good coffee, a daycare centre, a college scholarship program and a health care program with a full-time nurse on-staff. Bob and I agree that if you respect your employees, they respect you back.

SAH: And in terms of style, how are you similar and how are you different?
MG We’re really not different! We argue about a lot of things but rarely about style. We both have this simple kind of easy, modern aesthetic. We bothlove 18th-century and Mid-Century Modern antiques.
BW We like to take traditional pieces and make them more current with colour and fabric, so they feel fresh but familiar at the same time.

SAH: What’s your earliest memory of decor?
MG My parents renovated our house when I was young. When it was done, my mother brought us into the living room and said, “You’ve seen it; now don’t come in here anymore.” I remember thinking how ridiculous that was. We never used the front door – always the side door – so I always wanted a living room that’s used. To this day, I still come in the front door of my house – even when the side door is more convenient.
BW My dad was in the air force when I was growing up, so we moved a lot. I was always amazed at how my mother used the same pieces in different houses to make it feel like home. That set the foundation for me in how to mix and reuse the pieces I have.

Lead image courtesy of Fanjoy Labrenz

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