The 20th century brought about many advancements which have undoubtedly made life easier and more convenient for so many, though often at the expense of being respectful of our much-loved planet. Items that were once made painstakingly one-by-one and only when strictly necessary, became mass-produced and homogenous – from t-shirts to chest of drawers. In the furniture industry, with standardisation came the loss of unique pieces able to tell a rich story – finding furniture that you can claim as your ‘bespoke’ own can be challenging, particularly when you’re looking to create an environment that connects with your visual and sensory tastes. The people behind Medley were well aware of this modern-day challenge, and opted to return to the basics with a modern and refreshing twist: beautiful and contemporary furniture made to order and customised for each customer.
Medley stands on the idea that a house is where a person’s authentic personality comes to light, and I love that so entirely. Individuality is never clearer than when filling up a new home with furniture and decorations – when I visit friends or family at home, I learn so much more about them. Anyone who has ever tried their hand at interior decorating their space knows that finding the perfect pieces to fill spaces makes all the difference between a house and a home. Well aware of that, Medley offers a groundbreaking proposal in the 21st century: fully customisable furniture, focusing on quality over quantity.
Instead of building a large batch of identikit furnishings, each Medley piece is tailor-made for the your space. On their website, you’ll find general guidelines on the styles they manufacture, but the process becomes personalised from then on. When purchasing a Medley piece, you’re entering a different scheme where you’ll be involved in the crafting process. You can specify measurements and get in contact with the Medley future stylists to deep dive into how you want your furniture to look, perform and feel. Tailor-made is the binding concept behind Medley. They’re strong proponents of bringing the idea of custom-made to furniture and creating perfect fits, not dissimilar to how the finest bespoke clothes are made. For the brand, the idea of a perfect fit isn’t just physical: it’s also about reflecting the homeowner’s values and what’s important to them. That’s where Medley’s approach to sustainability enters the picture.
Every component of Medley’s pieces is well-thought-out to be as eco-friendly as possible. As nature and wellness enthusiasts, making furniture entirely out of non-toxic materials is a Medley staple. Catering to the move towards a slower lifestyle, they try to incorporate natural materials wherever possible, steering away from the “easy” and fast-made elements. Fire retardants and harsh chemicals are completely banned from the Medley workshop, and they use hardwood from U.S. forests, like Alder wood from trees that took 25 years to grow. Following conscious practices beyond the obvious, sustainable furniture is also made to last, so it can avoid dipping back into fast consumerism trends. This wood is so strong that it doesn’t require chemical treatment, reducing toxicity in the home.
Other materials in their sustainable arsenal include certified foam, organic cotton, natural latex from rubber trees, cruelty-free eco-wool without any additives, plus jute and other naturally processed fabrics.
Every piece of Medley wood has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an NGO dedicated to setting industry standards for responsible use of woods and forests from an environmental and social perspective. Considered a gold standard within the furniture industry, it is a respected marker in the field – particularly as more and more furniture brands appear on the market, seemingly exploiting the sustainable trend by name without committing to the necessary practices.
The fact that Medley’s wood stems from American forests is a huge deal. While companies importing may follow sustainable practices, transportation from countries as far away as Indonesia unavoidably means creating a long carbon trail. Currently when it comes to transportation, the US is among the biggest importers of tropical wood which is why it is so important to keep a close eye on companies who make an effort in keeping things local – and in Medley’s case, that also includes a California-based workshop where items are manufactured by hand!
For Medley, this strive towards remaining local permeates on every stage of their chain of production. The company takes pride in building a direct relationship between the company and the final consumer, skipping middlemen like physical stores and outsourced delivery. This shorter chain translates into an ability to create luxury furniture that, whilst not cheap, is definitely obtainable. Plus, the full service is quite a unique experience; conscious and non-toxic materials, local manufacture, and contact with a Furniture Stylist to guide you through your purchase. In the end, having a piece of furniture that has been made unique to your home and which doesn’t exist anywhere else coupled with all the other good stuff is, to me, well worth a slightly higher price tag.
For buyers unsure of the idea of getting a piece of furniture they’ve never seen, Medley offers a 100-day trial with free returns.
I loved how Medley makes it a point to involve its customers in each step of the process. Since the moment I first approached them, I was guided through what worked best for my specific needs. Fully aware of how difficult it is to make this entire process online, they were very collaborative about my requirements. For example, when I wasn’t sure how a specific fabric would translate into my living space, they would send me swatches for me to see for myself in addition to some spares I might want to consider. They were also very professional when it was time to delve into each bit of design, explaining the different furniture fillings and how they varied. It’s the kind of detail I need to take into account with a small child at home, and I was happy to see all my questions answered without any roundabouts.
I really felt accompanied throughout the process. That’s one of my favourite things about buying from smaller-scale makers: the treatment is always personalised. We’re so accustomed to the industrialisation of every bit of the purchase process, even maker-to-consumer relationships, that this kind of treatment feels like something of a revelation. What’s even more lovely is that it’s more like a return to form, to the way things used to be.
Founded in 2005, Medley is the brainchild of the two Nagle brothers: Ryan, a graphic designer, and Travis, a marketing and branding expert. The two of them come from a home of creators: their father had a woodshop and their mother worked as an artist. Throughout their lives, these brothers had a keen love for working with their hands, and a sense of wood-based products as a way towards self-expression.
Enthusiastic about conscious living, they saw that walking towards a more sustainable approach to furniture-making was possible and made the step into Medley. At the start, operations were based on Travis’ Los Angeles apartment. The brand, slowly but surely, started building a clientele of happy people who loved their take on décor. In the years since they’ve grown to be one of the most popular eco-home brands out there, redefining the idea of luxurious furniture.
I cannot think of a better way to bring one’s own personality to home décor than through furniture with a purpose. Beautiful and truly one-of-a-kind pieces with a conscious approach, a California dream! Find out more about this incredible brand, right here. I loved speaking to co-founder Travis and learning a little more about Medley, have a read here.