We love discovering new products that fit our sunny, friendly aesthetic. So when I saw the gorgeous roundness of the Wander Light by Jonas Wagell in New York this summer, I had to know more about the fledgling brand who's bringing it to market. I took some time out of my frenzied trade show rush to talk with Christopher Fay, the creator of From the Bay.
What's your background and why did you decide to start From the Bay?
I studied philosophy in college, which, if anything, taught me about the power of observation and its importance as we make our way in the world. Early on, an interest in Asian philosophy took me to Taiwan to study Chinese. I never made it back to grad school, but instead started a company from scratch with my wife. We had good success selling homewares to retailers around the world. But after too many years on the quantity treadmill, it clearly was time to focus on tightly curated lifestyle collections with higher quality for a more design inspired customer.
Why did you choose Jonas Wagell as the designer of the inaugural collection?
I discovered Jonas in the course of surfing design blogs as part of my brand positioning research. His work had a friendly style and simple forms. I contacted him and we started talking. That led to my retaining him to inspire and sharpen the skills of my colleagues. Later it was clear we shared a similar outlook on the intersection of business and design. In particular, the totality of his thinking and approach was both refreshing and inspiring.
At this early stage in your company's development, what kinds of things do you spend the most time on?
I work out of two places now, Massachusetts and Taiwan. Our company name, From The Bay, pays homage to these two bay states. Work days are different depending on where I am. In the US, I focus more on finding brand savvy freelancers to help elevate our market presence. And, of course, there is the everyday business building work of reaching out to new shops that want to carry our range.
In Taiwan, my time tends to be more product focused. For example, today here in Taipei we reviewed three new lighting pieces we hope to launch in February in New York. Then we met with a visiting young woman designer who has been doing some fun experiments with everyday life things and repurposing them into home accessories. And that was all before lunch.
For me, interacting with designers, being motivated by their ideas, and sharing their enthusiasm keeps the work fresh. Every day there are new things to see and feel, to assess their influence on our collections. Having spent years in the trenches helps me with these challenges.