Tiffany Fong was recently out of college and working as an assistant to Steve Jobs when an existential crisis erupted, around the time the iPhone was unveiled. “I was in his office opening mail,” she said, “and I thought, ‘If Steve Jobs were me, would he quit this job?’” She concluded: “‘Yeah, he totally would do it. He wouldn’t take this job in the first place.’”
So Ms. Fong changed her life. She moved to Paris, enrolled in fashion design classes in London and plotted with her sister to open a luxury handbag company. And after the global economic crisis scuttled her plans, she didn’t crumble; with Jobs-like determination, she applied to business school.
Today she is the 32-year-old creative director of MDB Family, a children’s furniture business with six divisions, including Nursery Works, which she repositioned two years ago to emphasize high-end design. She is also the creative director of Capsule, a new MDB company selling more affordably priced home furnishings directly to consumers. Both brands will be exhibiting at the WantedDesign Manhattan show May 13 to 16.
“We feel there’s room to bring art and design into the nursery,” Ms. Fong said, referring to Nursery Works’s new offerings, including the Ami rocker, a bassinet that converts into a double-seat rocking chair. In fact, she noted, Nursery Works helped spur a trend in elegant baby appointments with its $4,500 acrylic Vetro crib, designed in 2010 by her father-in-law, Daniel Fong, who founded Million Dollar Baby in 1990 with his wife, Maryann. (Ms. Fong’s husband, Teddy, is the chief executive.)
The smooth lines and bulbous comfort of Capsule’s Big Arm sofa would work in a nursery, too, though the piece is designed for all ages and comes with a family-friendly price of $1,299. Ms. Fong said that her company’s long and often exclusive relationships with factories create efficiencies in operations and materials, reducing costs. (Many of the components are repurposed from the children’s products.)
Those circumstances also allow her to experiment with design. “My vision is for Capsule to be the Opening Ceremony of furniture,” she said, referring to the eclectic fashion retailer and producer known for its creative collaborations (and recently granted a 2016 National Design Award).
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