Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight
September 10, 2003:
Jesse Johnson 93 and Q collection furnishings.
Furniture thats good for
Jesse Johnson 93 makes environmentally friendly sofas
Two years ago, when Jesse Johnson 93 set about furnishing
his Manhattan apartment, he looked for furniture and fabrics that
wouldnt harm the environment or his own health. While shopping,
he asked questions such as: Did the companies harvesting the wood
replant the forests they logged? Were the fabrics treated with nontoxic
dyes? Were the fibers organically grown? The answers were always
The former investment banker and politics major had just left
Yale with graduate degrees in management and environmental studies
and had become fascinated with industrial ecology or how
to minimize the negative effects of industrial processes on human
health and the environment. Id go into stores asking
these questions, and people would look at me like I was crazy,
says Johnson. In the end, he decided, with interior designer Anthony
Cochran, to start Q collection (qcollection.com),
a company that creates the kind of furniture and textiles he was
looking for. (Q stands for quercus, Latin for oak.)
In creating headboards, club chairs, coffee tables, sofas, and
bookcases, which they will launch in a New York showroom in October,
Johnson and Cochran conducted extensive research into the origin
and the toxicity of a range of materials, from frames to batting
to upholstery to wood glue.
Their wood suppliers replant the forests they harvest. The company
uses fabrics made from organic wool that is untreated and unprocessed.
Says Johnson, This material is so natural that the excess
clippings from the factory are used as mulch in the gardens surrounding
the factory. The water used in the manufacturing process leaves
the factory cleaner than when it entered.
Q collection offers home furnishings that are, he says, contemporary,
functional, comfortable, and durable. Johnsons typical couch
starts at about $3,000, on par with his competitors.
We care about things most companies dont care about,
says Johnson, who asks, Why would someone want to buy a piece
of furniture that will only last five years and is known to contain
carcinogenic materials when they can bring something with great
design and pure materials into their home?
By Jessica Dheere 93
Jessica Dheere 93 is a freelance writer in New York.