Design Disruptors: Lisa And Michael Fine, Quiet Town
Bath time just got better.
Seeking a peaceful refuge in the heart of the city, the founders of Quiet Town, Lisa and Michael Fine, made that respite their Brooklyn abode. More specifically, the bathroom. Spawned after an unsuccessful trip to a big-box store where vinyl curtains and electric toothbrushes lined the aisles, the collection of beautifully crafted (and Brooklyn-made) shower curtains and bathmats offer a serene spin on an area that oftentimes gets overlooked. Because, your bathroom deserves more.
Give us the short story on how you got your big break in the design space.
Lisa: "We got amazing press support right after we launched because of the product we chose to focus on. I honestly think if we were making anything else we never would have been able to cut through so quickly. But there just aren’t a lot of quality goods made for the bathroom space so that in and of itself might have been our big break."
What do you offer that other brands or sites don’t?
Lisa: "In a nutshell we really, really care about your bathroom. It’s not an afterthought or side note that we’re tossing into our existing home collection. It’s all we do and we’re obsessed with making the most beautiful, well-made, thoughtful shower curtains and bath rugs you’ve ever seen."
What’s been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on to date?
Lisa: "We recently shot for Quiet Town at an iconic North Fork motel called the Sound View Inn. The design team responsible for it’s recent renovations really liked what we did and asked us to make the shower curtains and blankets for their guest rooms. I never thought our adoration would be reciprocated because, let’s face it, things don’t always fall into place in such a perfect way."
Michael: "I would agree with Lisa about shooting at the Sound View Inn for Quiet Town. The project went one step further for me and I shot the hotel for their upcoming redesign and launch."
How do you define success?
Lisa: "Finding myself in a place that makes perfect sense, even if it’s only clear to me. That’s the only way I can shut off the noise and listen to my gut. If there’s confusion then I’m the last voice I’ll likely listen to."
Michael: "Feeling proud of the pictures I take, and seeing orders for Quiet Town roll in, but mostly being in an environment that makes me happy and allows me to not think about what’s stressing me."
Tell us about a recent challenge and how you worked through it.
Michael: "When we started manufacturing we had a seasoned partner who knew we were just starting out. They quickly gave us a lesson in how jerky some people can be. We moved our production somewhere else!"
Lisa: "We were using organic canvas from India when we launched last April. It was beautiful stuff and the fact that we were supporting organic farming in India was really important to us. But we felt kind of horrible about the footprint all that shipping was leaving on the environment. After a lot of searching and testing and research Michael found an American mill that created a canvas as beautiful as our organic fabric. It’s conventionally grown but it takes two days to reach us instead of three months. We love that we’re supporting American industry and hope that more mills are able to gain traction and flourish instead of shut down."
How would you describe what you do to someone who has never seen your work?
Lisa: "I usually just give it to them straight and say that I make shower curtains and bath rugs. If they ask 'why' or somehow get that these banal items might somehow be interesting then I’ll go into the details about what they look like and where we make them. But I don’t want to chew someone’s ear off unless they’re actually interested. It’s literally the least sexy product someone can make and you don’t want to be talking at someone about a shower curtain."
Michael: "I usually start off with a nervous laugh: 'Ha, ha, umm…we make shower curtains.' Then I proceed to describe how awesome they are and how we are making a simple bathroom inspiring and fun."
Where do you go for inspiration?
Lisa: "Vintage textiles, fine artists, nature and fashion."
Michael: "Wherever the sun is shining. Mostly the mountains and the beach but I also find taking pictures of whatever environment I’m in usually inspires me in some way. I try not to look for inspiration and just let it come when it comes."
In a space that’s so saturated and driven by trends, how do you make your work feel timeless and unique?
Lisa: "Well, we’re not even a year old but my experience as a stylist has taught me to keep it simple, and never forget what inspired you to start the journey. When you can return to those emotions it will translate for miles and miles."
See the full list of Lonny’s design disruptors here.