WITH THE ENVIRONMENT ALWAYS TOP OF MIND, AND A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO DESIGN, LOVESAC’S SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE IS CHANGING THE WAY WE SHOP FOR SEATING.
When he was a college kid selling his own upgraded beanbag chair to friends, Lovesac Founder and CEO Shawn Nelson never imagined that one day that side hustle would become a force in the American furniture industry, with over 150 showrooms and a growing 1,200 employees.
After opening a small store in a mall in Salt Lake City, UT to sell his bean-bag style chairs—called Sacs— Nelson wanted an authentic way to display them. So he and his team set up the Sac, a couch and TV in the corner. “People started asking about the couch,” says Nelson.
So they decided to create one they could sell. Today, while the original bag-style chair continues to be a draw, the brand’s bread and butter is their signature Sactional; it’s a sectional sofa that can be changed and modified, whether it’s by adding to its size (they range from two-seaters to 10-seaters) or simply changing the set-up. With its modular design and clean, simple lines, each arm, back, seat and cover can be customized and replaced. The covers are machine washable as well. “This is a product that can be with you the rest of your life,” says Nelson. “It’s a product that can sustain because not only was it built really well, but it can evolve with you.”
As the company has grown, so has the design factor. The Sactional comes in some 200 different fabrics, ranging from leather to velvet to slub tweed, and arm styles can be straight for a more modern look or rounded for something traditional. Plus, the upholstered seats are moveable, so they can work as ottoman or chaise, depending on your needs.
“My sactionals are 15 years old in my house,” says Nelson. “All new pieces can be integrated into the 15-year-old pieces.”
While Nelson jokes that you won’t have to throw out your Sactional to get rid of the whimsical fabric choices of your 20s, he is serious about building a product that is meant to last a lifetime. The “Design for Life” philosophy his company is built on means that the sectional, and the rest of the products they make, has to be maintainable, durable, moveable, changeable and, yes, lovable. “Everything we do incor- porates those tenets,” says Nelson.
The company takes sustainability in design a step further too, with an eye towards environmental action. In 2021, they repurposed more than 100 million plastic water bottles from the waste stream. Their upholstery fabric is made from 100 percent Repreve certified recycled yarns and they use kraft cardboard instead of dyed and bleached box materials to cut the environ- mental impact of shipping.
But for Nelson, it always comes back to supplying his customers with a piece of furniture they love. “While we are com- mitted to sustainability at the most fundamental level, we believe we are capitalist,”
says Nelson of his growing company. “People don’t buy Sactionals because we recycle plastic bottles. They buy them because they are cat proof, dog proof, wine proof.”
He sees the company’s model of designing for life as the mantra of many a successful company going forward. “We believe in what we are doing,” says Nelson. “It’s an organic and sincere approach to sustainability.”
His innovative approach to design has given way to new accessories and a grow- ing line of home décor solutions. The latest and biggest addition is StealthTech, a home audio system built into their couches that Nelson believes can compete with any high-end home audio system on the market. “It’s strange that it comes from this beanbag brand, but it’s really a cool product that delivers,” says Nelson
StealthTech was born out of necessity. While Nelson wanted a really great sound system, his wife didn’t like the idea of big speakers and wires in their family room. So he came up with the idea to build the speakers right into the couch, so that you can’t see them. The sound system can also be added to the Sactional you already have.
Because technology is always changing Nelson says the company hopes to create a trade-in program down the road, but, much like his other products, he expects the sound system itself to last a long time. And that’s not the only useful tech avail- able: The Sactional also has a component that will charge your cell phone while it sits on the sofa arm that can be easily removed or upgraded when needed. “It’s all invisible,” says Nelson.
As the business slowly expands, Nelson says people often ask him what’s next for Lovesac. While he isn’t sharing too many details, he says in return, “Look around your house and ask yourself, ‘What would be useful to me?’ That’s what we will do next. Given enough time, Lovesac will apply this to all of the meaningful products in your home and keep doing that forever. We have decades of work ahead of us.