Oswalde, the Class-Defying Furnishings Retailer and Interiors Consultancy
Oswalde is like “a kind friend who gently guides you to make decisions and choose things that you like,” says founder Jenna Fletcher
October 11, 2021
- Who is it? Founded by Jenna Fletcher, Oswalde is an Instagram-based furniture store that is breaking the exclusive “invisible bubble” of the design industry
- Why do i want it? A unique, carefully curated selection of pieces that mix radical Italian design with emerging designers from around the world
- Where can I find it? On Instagram at @ oswalde.shop
Who is it? Oswalde is less of a brand and more of a helping friend. With a growing collection that is now putting radical Italian design side by side with up-and-coming designers from all over the world, it is the plug in the design world that is loosening up the rather “stiff” industry.
Oswalde is the brainchild of the cool and collected Jenna Fletcher, who took the name from her family tree. She started the business in lockdown and decided it was high time to breathe life into her vision after watching a corner of her living room piled up with plastic furniture she had “obsessively” bought on auction sites.
Today Fletcher describes Oswalde as “a lovable friend who gently guides you to make decisions and choose the things you like”. Specifically, this means a London-based archive slash consultancy that sells both Italian vintage furniture and contemporary international design. With pieces such as Joe Colombo’s Boby organizers (Cassina) or Olaf von Bohr’s modular shelves and stools made of plastic (Kartell), Oswalde delivers daring plastic jewels at a time when material is being refuted globally.
When asked how she coped with such a decision, she replied, “I don’t think so [the decision] was conscious. I think it was more of an attraction to the shapes and colors of these objects. The material plastic is light – these parts are mobile and stackable, and these properties made them functionally attractive to me. ”Regarding responsibility, she adds:“ I have to be responsible for the effect I have on people – the looking for plastic furniture now – and the small market that I created. But I trust that people are responsible and how they shop. “
As demand grows – especially from some of the fashion industry’s biggest creative directors and students, who are enabled to pay for their purchases in weekly installments – Oswalde is growing rapidly. In fact, it has already started to redefine itself as a vehicle for uplifting black designers and those on the fringes. “I’m not the type to sit still and be one-dimensional,” says Fletcher.
Regarding her future plans, Fletcher describes her willingness to introduce new faces to the scene, such as Nigerian designer Nifemi Marcus-Bello of nmbello Studio, who gave Oswalde the exclusive rights to distribute his scaled-down LM stool in the UK in June. “My whole vision [with Oswalde] since a universe is much bigger than selling things on Instagram … and the first step was Nifemis [LM Stool] and say, ‘OK, well, I’m going to do classic Italian postmodern design alongside an up and coming designer from Lagos … and tell people that you need this in your home just like you need it in your home.
Fletcher’s background isn’t in design, but more in advertising. And the closest she was to culture, admittedly, was during her time at Dover Street Market, where fashion, art and design are known to merge. “I don’t know half the shit I should know, and I’m very honest,” says Fletcher. “I think life is about learning and accepting other people on their journey of discovery.”
Obviously, Oswalde and his “amateur” approach pose a growing challenge to both the industry and the encyclopedic traditions of his doormen. “I’m glad there are all of these Instagram dealers,” says Fletcher. “Everyone hates it, but I’m glad we pierced this [invisible] Bubble. “It is an attitude that explains the reluctance and wanted friendliness of Oswaldes approach: Naivety meets strategy or, in Fletcher’s words:” My way of navigating a world I don’t belong to. “
Why do i want it? Oswalde prides itself on the fact that it is meant for everyone; a fact that is evidenced by the social and economic diversity of its clientele. It not only stands for inclusivity, it also embodies it.
It’s a black-owned company (within a predominantly white male industry, mind you) that is single-handedly run by its LBGTQ + founder. And while it continues to quickly garner likes and a serious following, Oswalde is careful not to leave the latter behind. Instead, it promises to reach out and take underserved designers from their corners of the world.
Where can I find it? On Instagram, of course: @ oswalde.shop.