Why Studio Sonja Milan?

Posted on August 08 2018

When I decided to share my passion for mid century modern furniture with the world, I took the necessary steps to set up a business. One of the first to-do’s was to name the business. It was a process that was far more difficult than I imagined.

I followed the advice given by several experienced entrepreneurs: I held brainstorming sessions, narrowed a list of potential names and eventually used a web based social media survey to get feedback on the contenders from a pool of respondents that met the target demographic for the business. Eventually a name was selected and the paperwork was started. I had finally left the starting gate…..but somehow it didn’t feel right.

It wasn’t until I started working on the website that the business name  - and it’s failure to resonate – became an issue that needed to be addressed. In the very first planning meeting, a simple question asked by one of my trusted consultants, brought everything back in focus.  She asked, very simply, “Where or when did your passion for midcentury furniture first start? Interestingly, it took me a few minutes before I could answer that very simple question. I started by telling her about my very first big purchase (big at the time because I was a recent college grad with a student loan debt that left me with very little disposable income at the end of each month).  I purchased a pair of early Kofod Larsen Danish modern chairs. They had gorgeous walnut stained frames with loose cushions. They were chairs that had graced my grandfather’s home for as long as I could remember.  After he passed away, the contents of his home were put up for sale. I kept my fingers crossed that I would be able to afford them and that I could snap them up before anyone else could do so.

Those chairs sat in the living room of the next several apartments I rented and eventually a few condos I came to own.  I never tired of them…and often thought about how lucky I was to have them, to have something so beautiful and functional…and to have something that reminded me of my grandparents.

After that story tumbled out, a few other memories followed. My grandmother was a very beautiful and stylish woman. When I was a very small girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old, she convinced my grandfather that they should redecorate their small Chicago bungalow.  The finished product looked like a scene out of Madmen. She installed a curved orange sectional sofa, the two Kofod Larsen chairs and a surfboard coffee table in their small living room. I thought it was the most beautiful home in all of Chicago. It was colorful, comfortable and so incredibly stylish – just like my beautiful grandmother.

My grandmother succumbed to early onset dementia before I turned 13. At that age I was too young to truly appreciate her extraordinary eye or good taste…..but speaking about her that day I realized that she was the catalyst for my obsession – my love of clean lines, architectural shapes, vibrant color – my appreciation for the beauty and simplicity of mid century designs.

In that moment the decision was made to rename the business.  I chose to name it after the two people that had the greatest influence on my love of furniture from that period.  Sonja was my grandmother and Milan was my grandfather. StudioSonjaMilan was born.

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