US furniture maker Greycork creates a living room in a box

Greycork challenges Ikea with a flat-pack living room in a box

Rhode Island furniture company Greycork has created a collection of quick-assembly, flat-pack pieces that are intended "to be a better alternative to Ikea" (+ slideshow).

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Greycork, which launched in 2014 with two tables and a bench, is now releasing its second line. This collection features a sofa, chaise, bookshelf, coffee table and side table – providing an opportunity for a full living room of furniture delivered in boxes.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

The entire range – described as Japanese-American in style – is constructed from ash and fibreboard, with polyester upholstery.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Each piece is shipped for free in a thin, flat box and is designed to be assembled by the customer in under four minutes. The collection is meant "to be a better alternative to Ikea," according to the studio, echoing the intentions of designers AMOO.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Greycork will begin taking pre-orders for the new pieces via crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The studio aims to raise $50,000 (£32,000) during the 40-day campaign.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Greycork CEO John Humphrey has guaranteed that orders will be fulfilled regardless of whether the financial goal is met.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

"Our campaign is what's called 'flexible funding,' meaning we will ship product whether or not we reach our campaign goal so everyone who orders will get their furniture," he said.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

The pieces are priced lower than comparable items from Ikea, said the studio, however the prices are likely to rise once the Indiegogo campaign ends.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

The sofa, which seats three people, is priced at $450 (£290) while the chaise is selling for $300 (£190). The coffee table is $125 (£80), the side table is $75 (£50); and the six-shelf bookcase, $180 (£115).

The company is using the crowdfunding site rather than simply selling through its website because it wants to generate widespread exposure and gauge consumer interest.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

"It gives us a way to validate there is a need for Greycork in the world, which we can justify based on the level of support we see from the audience," said Humphrey.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Greycork is based in the city of Providence. The entrepreneurial studio was founded by Humphrey, who has a manufacturing background, and Alec Babal and Myung Chul "Bruce" Kim, both of whom studied industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Greycork flat-pack furniture

The company's first line, the Brooks Collection, featured a folding dining table, coffee table and bench – all made of wood and priced from $500 to $950 (£320 to £610).

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Humphrey said they are currently selling off the remaining inventory and won't be manufacturing the pieces again. "We had orders from Boston to San Francisco and everywhere in between, and customer feedback was very positive," he said. "But, because of the higher price point, we priced out our target user."

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Greycork aims to attract young consumers in urban settings. According to statistics provided by the company, 80 million US residents are between the age of 20 and 40 – and of that group, 87 per cent rent their homes, 30 per cent live in cities, and 16 per cent would prefer to buy furniture online.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

The team was inspired to create the quick-assembly furniture largely due to the "stress caused by buying and assembling furniture from Ikea, which is an experience many people can relate to," said Humphrey.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Humphrey was also motivated by his personal background. "I grew up working for my family business, putting products together on assembly lines, so I know how things get built and shipped to an end user," he said. "I knew there could be a better way when I came to furniture."

Greycork flat-pack furniture

For the new collection, all of the wood and metal components are produced in the US, while the upholstery is made overseas. The components are compiled, packaged and shipped from the company's factory in Massachusetts.

Greycork flat-pack furniture

Flat-pack furniture created by other design studios includes pieces by Benjamin Vermeulen that snap together with magnets and wooden tables by Swedish design duo Mattias Ståhlbom and Gabriella Gustafson.