Get to Know Emily Butler: Founder of the Non-Toxic Furniture Brand Ziggy

Ziggy Interview

Tell us about how you got into design.

I am from a family full of “designers” – my brother has always been interested in architecture and city planning, my parents have built and renovated many family homes, and my mother and grandmother both have a natural knack for decorating. My mom, regardless of time constraints or budget, always made it a priority to create a welcoming, comfortable home for her family.

I majored in Finance and started my professional career in Texas working for two privately owned real estate investment firms. Around the time of the 2008 financial crisis a good girlfriend and I were co-authoring a cooking and decorating blog – Deux Maisons – as a creative release from our long work days. This exercise helped me recognize that decorating and design could in fact be a business and in 2011, I applied and was accepted to the Interior Design program at Parsons. On the very last day I could say yes, I decided to take the leap and move to New York.

How did the idea of Ziggy come about?

Ziggy, Tom, and I have collaborated on a number of custom installations over the years, but one client in particular was exceptionally sensitive to toxicity in common finishing materials in her home (glues and painted finishes, for example). We began to only introduce non-toxic, water-based finished items in her home that were not only safe, but functional and stylish. We realized that many of my client’s challenges were universal, so we created the Ziggy line to present customizable, safe solutions to a broader audience, not just those able to seek out custom furniture solutions.

We called the brand Ziggy as a namesake choice since the line is a 100% a collaboration between Ziggy, Tom, and myself. It all feels very personal to us and we wanted the name to reflect that.

Ziggy mirror interviewWhat makes Ziggy different from what's out there?

Several years ago, it would not have occurred to me that my furniture and fabric choices could be toxic and polluting the air in my home. With such a positive shift in everyone’s view on organic food choices and general wellness in the past several years, it felt like a natural progression to consider our own homes. If you are constantly – and often unknowingly – bringing in toxic items into your home, you are breathing in air that is 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside.

We’ve been following the research and know that offering healthy home furnishings are an important step in the right direction in what can seem like a very opaque marketplace. Our hope is that with a little education and full transparency, we can provide our customers with the knowledge they need to make better choices for their homes.

The furniture itself is designed to be intentionally simple and work well in a variety of settings – modern spaces or alongside antiques and more traditional pieces. We wanted to create designs whose quality matched or even exceeded that of a custom product and that could become instant classics in today’s modern, healthy home.

Our designs are also customizable so our customers can find the right fit and finish to suit their home. Our furniture is available in all 20 paint, high gloss lacquer and wood finishes and come in a variety of sizes in order to avoid the pitfall of falling in love with a piece that is the wrong scale or finish. We want to offer lots of options for our customers whether they are interested in nontoxic solutions or just liked our look, and found the nontoxic feature to be an added benefit.

Tell us more about your new space in NoMad?

NoMad has truly become such a design destination over the last several years and we are loving our new studio space in the neighborhood.

Ziggy and Tom are in Connecticut where all of our American-made designs are produced, but I am New York City- based, where not only a lot of our customers are, but where customers go to shop. Designers are visiting showrooms on behalf of their clients and private customers are also interested in assessing the quality before the buy, so we knew it would be important to offer easy access.

It’s been so helpful having a bright studio space where customers can make appointments with me to see examples of a wide variety of our designs – from bedside tables to mirrors to trays to sideboards and feel the quality in person. They can also pick up finish samples and review them in person – see how glossy high gloss really is, and maybe even get a little advice on what best suits their space. We love that our studio space makes our designs more accessible to our customers.

How would you describe your style?

A lot of my design work is really fabric-forward with a fair bit of color and warmth. My style has evolved over time and while I think it will always be rooted in tradition, I love that little bit of edginess that modern influences can add to a space. I think this is why we all love the look of Ziggy so much – our designs really work in a variety of applications and are meant to become that instant family heirloom – not only in quality, but style and will stick with you no matter how your style evolves.

Anything else to add?

It has been such a great freshman year for Ziggy and we are thrilled to continue growing with our customers in 2019. We are planning on introducing new side tables, dressers, media solutions, and desks in the early part of the year and hope that our customers will make plans to visit our studio so we can help them select the perfect piece for their home!

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