Rob Forbes founded Design Within Reach, the furniture company that brought high design to the general public.

Why you should listen

A decade ago, if you wanted to buy a piece of classic modern furniture for your house -- say, a classic Eames chaise longue -- you had basically two options: make friends with a commercial office designer who could order you a piece from the supplier, or wait until your neighborhood psychiatrist redecorated his office and put all the 1960s-vintage Eames chairs out on the curb. Rob Forbes, a potter with a background in retail, saw a market for clean, modern design made available to regular people, and turned this idea into the brilliant nationwide chain and catalog Design Within Reach.

Along with new and classic home goods, DWR became a platform for Forbes' way of seeing. The early-2000-vintage DWR newsletters were packed with colorful images from Forbes' travels and news about designers he loved. And this is not to forget each holiday's annual champagne chair contest -- in which DWR fans were challenged to create a miniature modern masterpiece from the foil, wire and cork of a bottle of bubbly.

In July 2007, Forbes left DWR to focus on a new project, PUBLIC, which designs and sells urban bikes.

What others say

"He promotes good design, not just as a retailer but as a missionary -- in lectures around the world and in his intelligent and eloquent DWR internet newsletter." — 2003 Russel Wright Awards

Rob Forbes’ TED talks

Rob Forbes on the TED Blog

Ways of seeing: Rob Forbes on TED.com

January 12, 2009

Rob Forbes, the founder of Design Within Reach, shows a gallery of snapshots that inform his way of seeing the world. Charming juxtapositions, found art, urban patterns — this slideshow will open your eyes to the world around you. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, California. Duration: 15:37.) Watch Rob Forbes’s talk on TED.com, where you […]

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