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A conversation with the founder: Embracing slower production in hyper-paced world

Interview by Peggy Digioia


As we navigate through the aftermath of the pandemic, there's a growing movement towards entrepreneurship on our own terms, prioritising sustainability, wellbeing, and genuine connections with customers. Peggy sits down with Ollie, the founder behind SLOWE Living, and explores the early days and the decision to start a furniture company.

In our fast-paced modern world, many of us are finding ourselves caught in the relentless pursuit of progress, leaving us feeling increasingly dissatisfied. We're challenged by a societal narrative that equates our worth with constant busyness, leaving little room for rest and reflection.

The concept of slowing down and embracing a more deliberate way of living and working has become increasingly appealing, resonating deeply with those seeking a renewed sense of wellbeing amidst the chaos.


Can you share more about the origins of SLOWE Living and how it came to be?

SL: Ha well it sort of happened by accident. After ten years running a small design and creative studio, Covid reared its ugly head, and I lost a bunch of client gigs. But you know what they say about clouds and their silver linings. I finally found the time to scratch an itch I'd long been looking to scratch - to work with my hands again.

At the same time, my partner and I faced the challenge of finding a sofa bed that was durable, comfortable, and beautiful enough to proudly have in our living space. Everything we found really compromised on comfort or style. Recognising the need for flexible sleeping options for guests. I decided to get back to my Industrial Design roots and build something ourselves with the quality materials and resources we had available.

The first prototype was designed in a couple of weeks and I rung up a friend who still had access to timber and he helped me cut it all to the right size in exchange for a keg of beer. It came together perfectly - but it really was DIY back then.

Why did you specifically choose to address the challenge of smaller space living with your first product, a sofa bed?

SL: Well it was the main challenge I was experiencing personally. We didn't LOVE our sofa bed and our spare room was this redundant space that never got used and was so uninspiring. Now we love it.

Our homes are increasingly more multifunctional, work, family, creative and recreational spaces - however, flexible guest sofa bed options remain temporary, time-consuming, uncomfortable and unattractive.

When I designed it, it was important for it to be multiple purpose—providing a super roomy seating option that fits two adults lying side by side, but also serving as a space-saving guest bed alternative for home offices or second bedrooms. It could fold away and it didn't feel like you had a bed in the office.

I designed it to quickly transform from a single sofa to a UK double bed, so it was actually comfortable and functional for taller people, or for when those last minute guests pop by and end up staying.

Can you share the inspiration behind the name SLOWE Living and what the brand stands for?

SL: Well I don’t want to be another brand that tells people how to live but, lately it seems I’m not the only one to feel our society has conditioned us to believe we're only useful when we're busy, and to feel 'unproductive' or 'guilty' if we're not. Our lives are so busy and rest seems to have become a scarce commodity these days.

This business requires so much thought and devotion and its sometimes hard to carve out my own time. I use cycling, drumming and basketball as a way to relax and to get out of my head and find creativity beside my work. SLOWE Living is sort of a reminder to that part of me that always wanted to live and work on my own terms and why I started my own thing in the first place. Life isn't always slow and we have to work, but life becomes more freeing when you strip it down.

I wanted to create a company that celebrates the independence of those thinkers, artists, and creatives who have shaped their lives at their own pace, staying true to their unique lifestyle choices. You’ll see reference to sculptors, musicians, skaters, surfers, philosophers who have inspired me with their work to do something of my own. I kind of wanted to carry that through.

Turning challenges into opportunities seems to be a recurring theme for SLOWE Living. How has your background influenced the brand's aesthetic and ethos?

SL: Absolutely. My experiences living in Tokyo and Copenhagen, along with a fascination with 1970s LA architecture and counter-culture, love for 1960s Danish Modernism furniture, and admiration for analog1990s Japanese industrial design all converge in the products and ethos of SLOWE Living. It really is a rich cocktail of influences that influences the brand's look and I hope resonates with a community that appreciates a blend of timeless aesthetics and functional living.

We’ve also created a series of mixtape playlists on our website that are designed for a different mood and feeling to find various levels of relaxation and inner comfort. It’s just doing stuff I love all under one roof really - and I hope people like it.

What's next for SLOWE Living?

SL: Although we’re only just getting started, you'll be hearing a lot more from us in the coming months as we look to take the brand offline too, including plans for a listening room in London and some brand partnerships. 

We're excited about creating a space for our own in-house live jazz jam and talks where we can get to meet all you lovely people exploring their own path of wellbeing and design. Stay tuned for more updates on our Instagram or newsletter.

Interview by Peggy Digioia


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