Antares and Capella Yee, the sibling house owners behind Solar at Six, a furnishings model with modernist appeals and California curves, is on a quest to protect the household enterprise recognized for conventional Chinese language joinery craftwork.
As a woodwork method that gained reputation within the Ming dynasty, interlocking joinery methods are robust and chic in kind, however finicky in nature.
The enterprise was began by the Yee sibling’s mom, Maria Yee, greater than 30 years in the past. Her intelligent replace on the traditional craft — with an automatic software to permit precision within the millimeters and building refinement to endure excessive climate — helped her scale up the enterprise and develop right into a profitable enterprise within the ’90s and 2000s. On the model’s peak, shoppers included big-box retailers resembling Muji, Room & Board and Crate & Barrel.
Then, the world turned the wrong way up; the pandemic meant the expansive Guangzhou manufacturing facility closed for an prolonged interval, and straining U.S.-China relations meant the household white-label enterprise was able to pivot away from its export-import enterprise.
So, the corporate shifted gears towards Antares Yee’s furnishings label, which he had got down to launch two years prior.
A self-trained furnishings designer, Antares labored within the digital design house till he needed to attempt one thing tactile and hands-on. He launched Solar at Six, a label named after the magical hour of daybreak that brings about readability and peace.
Antares gravitated towards the joinery system — however initially, wasn’t eager on working together with his mom. As a substitute, he set out on a opposite artistic path: as an alternative of extremely decorative items, Solar at Six performed with daring graphic motifs; its viewers skewed youthful.
The versatile items of Solar at Six discovered a candy spot between collectible items and democratic, typically Scandinavian, design. Objects just like the $1,560 C/Array chair and smaller items just like the $185 Yucca stand have helped the label develop a gentle following within the U.S. market.
The latest assortment, centered on the WOLO desk, was an exploration in trendy presentation of the joinery motif. The desk’s thick, columnar legs are connected with skinny connective tissue amplifying a sculptural really feel. The sharp edges of the piece stand in stark distinction to the grainy sheen of Makata Wooden, a sustainable replace on Maria Yee’s aesthetic.
“You need a piece that speaks to the aesthetics of the time, however can stand up to the check of time, that it may be one thing you’re feeling actually comfortable about 10 or 20 years from now,” says Antares Yee.
The versatile items, which exude a way of airiness and calm, have discovered their approach into the houses of celebrities together with Kacey Musgraves, NBA stars and social media tastemakers.
Because the model grew, it shortly turned apparent to Antares Yee that the household’s deep nicely of sources may assist him sustain with provide. Concurrently, the household enterprise was going via “a transformative interval” in the course of the pandemic, which led to Antares Yee’s sister Capella becoming a member of as a enterprise supervisor.
To each siblings, safeguarding a craft means transferring together with the tectonic shifts in a tech-driven world. “We’re on this positively once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-generation shift the place you may have a enterprise that began earlier than the web, earlier than [cell phones]. I’m basically attempting to determine methods to make issues work sooner or later, the place Solar at Six lives,” says Capella Yee.
Displaying the craftmanship behind the work on the firm’s expansive workshop performs an more and more essential half within the model narrative.
Lots of the firm’s joinery masters have been with the Yees for greater than 20 years. By placing a face to the merchandise they design, the Yee siblings have been in a position so as to add a human contact to the work they take delight in making. “It reveals to inform that we’re not an meeting line scenario,” stated Antares, alluding to the widespread prejudice related to Made in China.
For Maria Yee, being entrepreneurial meant discovering a technique to survive as first-generation immigrants. Born within the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, Maria Yee moved to California in 1988. There, she launched her namesake model that bought vintage reproductions produced by a small workshop in Beijing. To scale up the enterprise, Maria Yee finally opened her personal manufacturing facility in her hometown.
Nevertheless, for Capella and Antares, it was about making decisions that may assist the enterprise keep related in in the present day’s digital world. “We most likely would by no means make veneer furnishings as a result of that’s not the kind of enterprise we wish to be,” Capella says.
The model is keen to create a extra agile provide chain system and function a direct-to-customer on-line retail retailer in in the present day’s drop-based retail world.
For the quick future, Solar at Six plans to give attention to direct-to-retail operations on-line and increasing within the U.S. market. The model is at the moment stocked at 20 curated items shops within the states.
The Chinese language market is already on the horizon — residence decor there’s anticipated to develop 9.26 p.c per yr for the following 5 years.
It helps that the label already operates a showroom and café in a serene nook retailer in downtown Shanghai, the place new batches of furnishings will see their international launch.