Founder Margaret Sellergren explains the inspiration and eco-conscious principles behind Nestify, an online furniture brand that makes sustainability and quality the heart of its creations

During the eighties, there was a revival of cane furniture in the US, where Margaret Sellergren grew up; such as the cane chairs that Austrian cabinet maker Michael Thonet had popularised in the early 20th century, or the Hans Wegner-designed CH24 “Wishbone” chairs that are now a Scandinavian staple.

Sellergren fondly remembers rocking on bentwood rocking chairs, which featured a woven cane seat and back. “I also travelled down to the Caribbean for holidays as a child, and there I was exposed to the use of hardwood furniture and that had a big influence on me,” she shares. “I really fell in love with that tropical aesthetic and the use of natural materials in the home.”

These memories left such a deep impression that when Sellergren launched her furniture brand Nestify earlier this year, she focused on producing classic and timeless pieces made with sustainably-sourced fine teak and woven cane.

“Cane is lighter than upholstery. Air flows through so it is particularly good for the tropical climate,” she explains. “It is a strong, durable yet breathable material; it is also historically significant, available in ecologically-sound ways and has a beautiful, delicate appearance while being timeless, sophisticated and artistic.”

The American entrepreneur, whose parents went on to open a furniture store in St. Croix in the Caribbean in 2003, continues to draw inspiration from their work ethic and hands-on approach. “When I first joined my parents in Central Java for a visit to the manufacturer, I was blown away by their collection and liked the idea of being in a business of items that will make your space more beautiful,” says Sellergren, who is currently based in Singapore. Thus, the idea for Nestify, was born. 

“Making the home a cosy and warm place you want to spend time in is a calling,” she adds. “Nestify helps create that for our customers.”

Why did you decide to start the business with chairs?
Margaret Sellergren (MS) Our philosophy was to start small which meant picking one category—chairs—that made the most sense. They’re easy to move, require no assembly, logistics are affordable and most importantly they serve a primary function. When people come home, what’s the first furniture they use? They want to sit down, but that’s not all. One chair is a place for contemplation, two chairs is a conversation, three or more is a community.

Where are the chairs from Nestify from?
MS Our furniture is made in Jepara, Central Java (in Indonesia), home to some of the best teak in the world as well as skilled craftsmen who have been making furniture for generations.

Unlike other types of wood, teak does not attract bugs. It’s attractive, strong, medium weight, long-lasting and sustainable as there are government regulated reforestation programs in place. In the same way that Milan is known for fashion, authentic teak furniture is found in Jepara, where the best craftsmen are.

How are you involved in the design process?
I follow a principle from the Toyota Way (the production system created by Taiichi Ohno) called Genchi Genbutsu, which means to go and see in order to understand the situation.

I visit the factories, talk with the suppliers, and learn how the whole process goes, from start to finish. We work with a draftsman to create the drawings, tweak if needed, and from there create the prototypes. When I am satisfied with the prototype, I will place my order.

Why is sustainability important to you?
MS My father taught me to think long-term. That’s why I design products that will last. We have a programme called Nearly New, which I’ve not seen in the furniture industry. Our products are legacy-grade, timeless pieces, and if a customer needs to downsize or move and can’t take our furniture with them, we pick it up for free and sell it used or donate it to charity.

I believe business is a platform for change and I want to be a part of the positive change in the world.

What other types of furniture will you be launching in the near future?
MS I've finalised the prototype for a new item named Russian Doll side tables; they nest one on under another and come in three sizes. I've also finalised the prototype for a bench called Sine Qua Non, an elegant mid-century inspired bench with a cushion; it can sit at the end of your bed or you can put it in your living room. Both the Sine Qua Non bench and the Russian Doll side tables will be available online soon.

I’m also partnering with some great new suppliers to expand Nestify’s collection even further into other home essentials. Please stay tuned for more information on that in the upcoming months!

Shop for Nestify online and at the showroom located at 2 Woking Road, #01-01

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.