Phoenix is known for a lot of things, but high-quality European modern design and craftsmanship is not one of them, at least according to Chris Jorgensen.
“There’s no single company focused on classic modern high-end furniture in the Valley,” Jorgensen said.
He and his wife, Bodil, are hoping to change that with the Center of Modern Design, set to officially open in Scottsdale in December.
The 8500-square-foot showroom features furniture and accessories from 12 designers out of Scandinavia and Italy – what Jorgensen calls “the two centers of design” – equipped with inventory to furnish just about every room in the house, excluding the kitchen and the bath.
Jorgensen says the store is the first dedicated showroom where designers like Hästens, makers of the most exclusive mattresses in the world, Artemide, famed for lighting design, and Bang & Olufsen, makers of aesthetically pleasing home audio and video products, can be found under one roof.
The Center of Modern Design showroom is not a place for the recreational design enthusiast or for the weak of pocketbook. One chair can cost upwards of $4000, and that is what Jorgensen intended.
“We’re for people who really appreciate high-end design,” he said. “Our pieces will stand the test of time. They’ll be interesting in the marketplace in several decades. Other types of furniture are trendy. It’s like fashion.”
Indeed, the relative wealth of the average Scottsdale resident is part of the reason Jorgensen and Bodil settled on the Valley as the place to realize their dream of exposing Americans to the designers they are passionate about.
Natives of Copenhagen, Denmark they opted for a career change in the high-end design furniture business after both spent more than two decades in the IT industry. They started out with the e-commerce business House of Copenhagen, but a little more than a year ago, decided they wanted to expand with a physical showroom.
They researched several areas around the country for the store, but settled on Scottsdale. It is an area that has a tremendous growth rate and is a virgin marketplace, according to Jorgensen.
Jorgensen makes no secret about the fact that his pieces are high-end. Every piece that The Center of Modern Design sells is made-to-order. The showroom has zero inventory, so for example, clients can choose the color of wood they would like for the backs of a chair. Each piece takes roughly eight to 12 weeks to make and three to four weeks to make its way from Europe.
Though the store is used to showcase furniture and accessories, Jorgensen intends to use the space for far more than that.
The showroom, which has a bar and a space that can be cleared out for 100 chairs, can also be used as an event space. He wants local high-end car dealerships, chiropractors and architecture and design firms to be able to bring clients in to showcase their own services.
“It’s another approach to marketing,” he said.
Ultimately, he wants to expand the business, hoping to open stores in the Chicago and New York areas. In the meantime, however, he wants the Valley to be seen as a must-visit destination for the type of design he is trying to promote.
“We want to have the opportunity to serve the triangle area of Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas,” he said. “We want designers who would typically bring their clients to L.A. to turn around, change their direction and bring their clients to Phoenix.”