BTS: Product Design Q&A
02/05 Design Tips

BTS: Product Design Q&A

McGee & Co. director of product let’s us inside the process

Today's post is different than anything we've ever done on the blog before. We're stepping out of our comfort zone and sharing some raw, un-edited photos and behind the scenes details about something we're really passionate about: product design.

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When we started McGee & Co., we couldn't wait to bring the mission of Studio McGee to life in the form of a few simple pillows. Yesterday, we launched over 500 new arrivals on-site, and it's hard to believe how far we've come.

Our team has learned so much over the past few years about how to refine our process to create pieces for more than just the moment. In light of yesterday's launch, we wanted to talk more about the behind the scenes, nitty-gritty details of how we get from start to finish.

We visited our director of product, Alyssa Macy, in the McGee & Co. warehouse to pick her brain about everything from rug materials to couch springs. Alyssa is an expert on all things product design, and she let us in on a few things we think everyone should know.

Initial design specs from the    Beckett Chair.

Initial design specs from the Beckett Chair.

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We get a lot of questions about rug quality, what makes one rug better or more durable than another? 

There's a wide range of rug qualities, but how they are made and what they are made with is typically reflective of the quality and price. Rugs made with 100% natural materials are going to last longer, resist more, and look better over time. The highest grade of construction we offer is hand-knotted, meaning someone has looped each strand of wool around the loom by hand, switching thread every time they change the color, it's a time intensive process.

You can tell if a rug is hand-knotted if you can see the design on both front and back. Most "vintage rugs," are hand-knotted, which is why they wear beautifully, they last forever. The next grade is hand-tufted, meaning the rug pile is woven without knotting and then connected to a base to hold in place. A complex pattern comes from screen printing or a more simple pattern can be tufted during the construction. These rugs offer the same look and feel of a hand knotted rug, at a great quality but could show age after many years.

For durability in a non plush rug there are indoor/outdoor rugs or PET rugs. These are woven with recycled plastic thread instead of wool. Without any pile they show less wear and because they are plastic they are easily washed when dirty.


What are you considering when designing a sofa and choosing materials?


We consciously choose materials that last, sofas are an investment, you want them to have a long life in your home. We start with a high-grade solid oak frame. Sometimes, you can't even see the wood on the outside of the sofa, but it doesn't mean it doesn't matter-a solid wood like oak will stand up to greater wear. The wood is kiln dried first to ensure it won't crack in use. Within the frame, we use continuous or sinuous springs that runs top to bottom on the entire couch, making it so you can sit in any spot, and it always feels the same. Continuous springs also ensure the sofa won't wear and leave an impression in that one spot that gets sat in more often than others. 

Are all sofa cushions created equal?

No, a lot of cushions are made with multiple foam cores, but a solid foam core creates more comfort and consistency. When it comes to how the cushion is wrapped, the more feather down, the softer. For example, we wrap our cushions in a 90/10 feather down wrap, making it more fluffy. You can usually tell by looking at a sofa if it has a down-wrap, it brings a more relaxed, lived-in look to the aesthetic. The foam core holds the shape and the feather down provides the comfort.

Beginning stages of the    Lucille English Roll Arm Sofa.

Beginning stages of the Lucille English Roll Arm Sofa.

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What is your main priority when it comes to product?

We are continuously and consciously improving each aspect of each product, there is a lot of thought behind it. We try to use solid, all natural materials and avoid using chemical-based finishes and do everything we can to ensure the safety and durability of every piece.

People sit on them, people drop-test them, you probably don't want to see photos of that, they're not very glamorous, but we do it. Everything is intentional, and we are very passionate about the quality of our product.

Show Comments
Studio McGee
  1. Love this! I thoroughly enjoy seeing the BTS and day in the life of your business. It’s such an exciting thing and it’s great to show consumers how much work goes into making quality pieces! I do product development for cosmetics so I completely understand how time consuming it is to bring something to market.

  2. We’ve been in the market for major furniture and a large rug and your site has many potential winners. Product selection in all categories is wonderful, but the photography for the online site is poor, so colors are not accurately represented. Beware, that beautiful white nightstand is actually cream, and a blush pillow arrives and it’s really peach. large purchases are a commitment, and I couldn’t confidently pull the trigger on a 2-5k rug or item based on only one or two photos. Wish we had more and better photos to work with!!!

    1. Hey Betsy, thank you for your note! I’m sorry to hear that you have had trouble with color matching. Many of our rugs are hand-made or one of a kind, which means that the color may vary from piece to piece. We are always working on ways to improve how to showcase these pieces in more accurate ways.

      If you wouldn’t mind giving us your email address or order number, the team would be happy to look into that for you and see if we can provide you with any supplementary information on the rug you are looking for!

  3. Do you ever make custom pieces of furniture? The reason I am asking is because I would love to have a heated leather sofa (styles like the vernon leather sofa) but I can’t find anywhere that sells heated leather sofas besides the La-z-boy type look which is not what I am going for.

  4. I would love to know why foam cushions are so favored over pocket coil spring cushions, not glued but sewn ones, boxed in a decent foam box and wrapped. I have found my sofa with this seat has looked better far longer than any foam cushions I have had. I am now on a third replacement, none cheap. All were used in my family room. Really wish Icould get that 1980 sofa again as it lasted 18 years before needing recovering. New seats, though told just as good as orig marflex seats, were not.

    1. When wrapped in down, we prefer foam cushions to coil spring cushions for both their look and comfort. Foam cushions have that soft, gushy feeling, and tend to have a more relaxed, lived-in aesthetic, creating a more casual feeling and sit. Some prefer a more firm, bouncy cushion, but we love the combination of foam and down for both it’s comfort and durability!

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