Service Design to Push Against the Fast Furniture Industry

Timeline: March – May 2020

Focus: Furniture Design • Understanding Users • System Design • Product Branding

Software Used: Rhinoceros 3D • Adobe Dimension • Adobe Photoshop • Adobe Illustrator • Figma

Collaborator: Mari Andersen

Onward presents a series of modular units that come together to create an extensive collection of products. We decided to tackle modularity in furniture in order to give you more control over your homes. Our products can be rearranged to adapt to any space, which will make your next move that much easier.


Everyone wants furniture that is low cost, high quality, and easy to adapt to their homes, but looking at existing furniture companies, we didn’t really see that.

Doing market research and looking for pain points within existing furniture helped us find the niche in which we wanted to design.

So, we set out to design a modular system that could be reconfigured over and over again to create a whole range of furniture. We were able to present our initial line of products with just four parts.

We worked hard to figure out the perfect dimensions for our units so that every product assembled hits industry standard size. Having just four wooden units also gives way to lower manufacturing costs. Modularity also gives the opportunity to ship in normal sized boxes, saving everyone money.

We imagined our products to be rearranged over the course of the customer’s life. Not on a regular basis – we didn’t want to design transformable furniture – but as their lives evolved, as they moved from one home to another and as they downsized or grew their families.

While customers can purchase entire couches or storage systems, they also have the opportunity to buy individual parts, new or used. If your Onward product no longer fits your home or your needs, we’ll pay for shipping, take units off your hands, and do our part to prevent another piece of furniture from going to the landfill. We sanitize and refurbish these parts, giving anyone the opportunity to buy our furniture at a lower cost – our attempt at democratizing the furniture industry. Customers also have the opportunity to trade with others in their neighborhood in order to cut down on shipping emissions.


Initially, we did a dozen sketches rethinking elements of the couch – the arms, the back, the bottom – as opportunities for shelving, storage, and work surfaces. We also considered transformability in couches. However, we realized that we didn’t want to make the couch more complicated, we wanted to make it more user friendly and universally useful.

We simplified our design to modular units of varying sizes, and explored different arrangements of these blocks.

While designing these modular units, we realized that there was an opportunity for not just couching, but also a whole range of furniture made of the same units, increasing the desirability for a user who may not stay in a single apartment for long.



We developed Onward because we wanted to push against the fast furniture industry. We loved the idea of a line of products that can grow with you – moving from room to room and from person to person.

The most exciting part of this project for us was following through with all the details: adding the stitching on the cushion renders, designing shipping boxes, developing a market hypothesis and business model, and building out a website for the entire company. You can view the prototype of our website here: [link coming soon].