More than a decade ago, two designers met serendipitously while working in different cities for Design Within Reach. Seth van den Bergh was based in Atlanta, while Daniel Zimmerman worked in West Palm Beach, FL. The pair have different backgrounds — van den Bergh has a degree in interior design, while Zimmerman has an MBA and is a ceramicist — but they knew they wanted to do something creative together.
After Design Within Reach, the two worked together at a design firm for three years before starting their own company, The Drawing Room, in 2018.
“We recognized what was missing in the Atlanta market,” van den Bergh says. “We noticed that a lot of designers tend to be a little bit more like chameleons in the sense that they are willing to ebb and flow with the style that their clients bring to the table. We decided that when we launched The Drawing Room, we were going to draw a line in the sand and say, this is the standard we want to set; this is the vision we want to create.”
Part of creating this vision involved setting themselves apart through the use of unique and vintage furnishings. In their past design jobs, the designers often found themselves scrambling for last-minute finishing touches at installations or for photoshoots.
“That became really challenging because you’re only buying or have access to things that are on hand at that moment,” van den Bergh says. “Sometimes those may not be the best reflection of what you want to show, so it dilutes the overall vision or aesthetic. Starting the brand three years ago, we decided that we were not going to run into that problem.”
The duo decided to build their own inventory comprising three pillars: art, vintage furnishings and custom bespoke pieces.
Last spring, when COVID-19 struck the U.S. and sent much of retail into a tailspin, Zimmerman and van den Bergh saw this as an opportunity to do something different. Their design projects moved forward, but with the added downtime of being stuck in their respective homes, they decided to find an outlet for their unique collection of furnishings.
“We thought, maybe we put the inventory that we have in our head and in our warehouse in an online platform that we can share, and maybe people will want to buy into the brand,” van den Bergh says. “Maybe not buy the designers, but they can buy components of us, be a part of us, and be a part of our vision and our aesthetic.”
In March, the TDR Collection became active as an e-commerce platform on The Drawing Room’s website. This piqued the interest of Jamestown Properties, the property management company from which Zimmerman and van den Bergh lease their second-floor design offices. They approached the pair about activating the first floor as a showcase for
“It took a little bit of a discussion,” van den Bergh says. “We’re not retailers. It wasn’t our business model. Our business model is designers who happen to have a really awesome collection of furnishings. But we thought this would be a really great opportunity for us to kind of champion what we had been trying to do here through just our beautiful images.”
The Buckhead Village space opened in October as an extension of the duo’s design business upstairs.
With the brick-and-mortar space, van den Bergh hopes to change the perception of what vintage means to Atlanta. Sourcing items from their pre-COVID travels, and importing items from places like Canada, Australia, Italy and France, Zimmerman and van den Bergh encourage people to think beyond Mid-Century Modern as it relates to the American market, and beyond the Danish
and Scandanavian influences present in big-box stores.
“I think people buy what they see,” van den Bergh says. “If they don’t see it, they don’t understand it. And if we’re not there to show them, they’re not going to understand it.”
As The Drawing Room continues to comply with local regulations regarding COVID-19 — masks are required and they have hand sanitizer at the ready — they are also continuing to pursue partnerships with artists and vendors to keep the space fresh.
“We’re constantly inventing and being creative,” van den Bergh says. “It becomes a natural progression for us to start to develop and source other creative items because our brains are already thinking about them.”