As a company that prides itself on bringing products to market that are carefully considered in every regard - from trims to materials to labor - there really isn’t a better partnership we could ask for than the one we’ve formed with our friends at Stephen Kenn Studio. This spring, we are proud to debut a set of special edition couches that represent our shared ideals and values. The custom couch and chair are based on Stephen Kenn’s iconic Inheritance Collection designs, featuring their trademark exposed frame and belt strap aesthetic paired with a supple natural vegetable tanned leather that will age and darken beautifully over time.
Our relationship with co-founder and designer Stephen Kenn goes back many years to when he and his good friend were running a denim brand called Iron Army. We all posted routinely on Superfuture, a message board where clothing enthusiasts convened to talk about their obsessions over design, travel, and denim. In a thread where brand fans were discussing Iron Army, Stephen and his partner got to talking about the “why” behind what they did. The words they shared about running their company with the intent to set an example for others through integrity and honesty really resonated with us, and helped put to words the hopes that we had for what 3sixteen could become one day. Many years later, we connected through mutual friends when Stephen had moved onto creating bags under a new brand name. Those bags, crafted of surplus army materials, became the framework for his eventual move into furniture. His most iconic and recognizable couch that he began with and still makes to this day utilizes those same US Army shelter half tents.
We mentioned earlier the importance of making things with honesty and integrity, with careful attention paid to every component. This premise is very important to the way that we make our jeans, as every single part of the jean has been tested, considered and revised from year to year - from thread, to hardware, to fabric, to construction details. In a similar way, the very nature of Stephen Kenn’s furniture designs allows nothing to be hidden: his exposed frame and belt-strap support system lifts the curtain and puts every structural, functional portion of the design front and center. There are no shortcuts to be found.
Just as we make our jeans in the USA and will continue to do so for the life of our company, we were excited to learn that Stephen Kenn welds their frames, sews their belt straps and assembles their cushion covers in downtown Los Angeles just a few miles away from our LA headquarters. Delving deeper, each component is also made in the USA: the belt webbing is woven in Los Angeles, the belt leather is burnished and sewn in house, and the leather for this specific project is tanned in small batches by Chicago-based Horween Leather, one of the last remaining tanneries in the US. We’ve worked with Horween in the past on numerous projects, most notably on several custom tannages for collaborative leather jackets made together with Schott NYC over the past five years - but this is the first time that Stephen Kenn will be featuring Horween leather on their furniture.
The inspiration for these couches came from vintage Scandinavian sling-leather chairs which often featured natural leather that would darken, scratch and soften over time with wear. Every scratch, scar and stain ends up adding to the beauty of the piece, much like a worn-in pair of jeans. While building out our NY retail store in 2020, we commissioned Stephen Kenn to build custom couches for a den in the back of our shop. Initial conversations on what this project could look like soon grew into exciting plans to use the den as a showroom for Stephen Kenn furniture to help serve their NYC customers. As such, we are excited to announce that beginning this week, 3sixteen NY will function as a Stephen Kenn authorized reseller. Customers may book appointments to meet with our staff to review materials, brainstorm design projects and see the Stephen Kenn for 3sixteen couches up close.
The Stephen Kenn for 3sixteen couches will be available to order on 3sixteen.com on Friday, May 28th, at noon EDT. Appointments may be made to view the couches at 3sixteen NY and place custom orders starting that same day.