• Clint Engel

Online home furnishings concept The Design Network launches

HIGH POINT — Jason and Jeff Harris of retailer Furnitureland South here launched Monday the beta version of The Design Network, a new digital home furnishings content concept designed to engage female consumers anywhere, anytime.

 Rebecca Robeson Design Network home tourSan Diego interior designer and YouTube star Rebecca Robeson takes viewers on a tour of one of her California home design projects in the first video contribution to The Design Network.

Among the initial sponsors are suppliers Harden Furniture, Serta, Four Hands, Palliser and Thomasville, which are expected to be uploading entertaining and informational videos to the website at www.thedesignnetwork.com in the coming months, said TDN founder and Furnitureland South Executive Vice President Jason Harris.

He said additional sponsors are developing content but want to remain unidentified until their materials launch. Harris declined to say how many sponsors TDN has drawn since the concept was introduced during the October High Point Market to some 50 suppliers, nor would he disclose the cost to participate.

The idea of The Design Network is to create a network for "inspiration, instruction and entertainment" all about the home, Jason Harris says in an introductory video, serving as the initial call for content to designers and other potential contributors. In an interview with Furniture/Today, he described TDN as "Houzz (the online home remodeling and interior design platform) meets YouTube."

The materials will be accessible via smartphones, tablets, computer monitors and television screens, for instance, sized appropriately and edited for length or designed especially for each of the various devices (smartphone-accessed content, for instance, would be brief). Content providers other than paying sponsors are not permitted to name brands in their video segments.

And Harris has said TDN also won't be an advertising vehicle for furniture stores, including Furnitureland South.

The Harrises have partnered with Lance Hanish and Klaus Paulsen of marketing firm CNA/Sophis, working with them on TDN as consultants.

The first content provider is San Diego-based interior designer Rebecca Robeson, described by Jason Harris as the most watched interior designer on the Internet through her two YouTube channels, which garner 1.3 million views a month. In the TDN video, Robeson takes viewers on a six-minute tour of the redesigned home of one of her California clients.

Other segments include a feature from Chicago Interior Designer Katie Lopez and a fabric trends report for 2013 from the latest Showtime in High Point.

Harris said the he expects the library to grow now that the site is up in beta form and as TDN begins a public relations push in mid-January, primarily through social media.

A next step, he added, will be on working on ways to monetize the efforts for content providers. In a video, Harris noted that favorite contents could end up on paid television via a TDN app under development for smart TVs.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

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