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New concept connects interior designers, artisans and clients online, offline and in 3D

Kabuni, a Vancouver company that connects interior designers, products and shoppers through a web app, opens its first bricks-and-mortar studio to the public on Monday. Located at 1378 West Pender Street, the 3,000-square-foot space has been conceived as a hub, co-sharing work space and incubator for local designers, artists and artisans where they can display their work and meet with clients—including in the 480-square-foot “Dream Room,” where the designer can place 3D holographic decor items against a wall, next to a fireplace or beside a window to help the client visualize the final design. Items—furniture, rugs, lamps, etc.—can be combined, compared, turned sideways or even upside down to examine the finishing. Designers can also put together a room ahead of time, then collaborate with the customer on changes. For now the rooms are templated, but eventually clients will be able to upload images of rooms in their own homes.

Kabuni investors have described the company as “Amazon meets Pinterest,” says Kabuni founder and CEO Neil Patel: Pinterest because of the collaboration among designers, artisans and and customers, and Amazon because everything on the Kabuni app can be delivered to the front door. Kabuni currently has almost 60,000 designer-approved products, more than 1,000 designers across North America and more than 6,000 customers. Customers have to connect to a designer to shop. “You have a personal shopper, a designer that’s going to help you figure all this out,” says Patel. “We retail, and the designer makes money when he or she sells it to a client. We don’t make money unless our designers make money or our makers make money.” A portion of the profit is donated to a local, national or international homeless cause.

“When you look at now the future of e-commerce, I think ‘commerce’ is going to be the single word,” says Patel. “Online and offline are going to be what brands deliver as an experience or an expectation to a consumer. They’re going to be combined.” With Kabuni, one application services all channels. Once users download the app and create an account, they can purchase anything they see on the website or in the studio through the account. There is no point of sale: users simply open an account, enter their credit card information, check out, receive order confirmation, then have the order delivered. Or they can visit the studio, meet with a designer, put together an interest board, go home and show it to the family, then press a button and have the items delivered to their door.

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