As you’ve likely noticed in your social feeds and social life, there’s been a growing prevalence of an airy, uncluttered, aspirational style of interior. Think spaces that ensconce you in a warm, zen-like cocoon of natural wood, aged leather, bare walls, coffee table books, houseplants, and ceramics. Supplying this subtle aesthetic revolution are Jared Blake and Ed Be of Lichen, an independent furniture workshop and boutique based in Ridgewood, Queens.
Along with their team, Jared and Ed have earned a reputation for welcoming younger, more style-conscious buyers into the interiors market. With their preference for timeless midcentury specimens and gems from emerging designers, Jared and Ed represent — in every sense — the antithesis of ephemeral consumption, encouraging a slower, more soulful approach to collecting. The Good Sort spoke with Jared and Ed about the refreshing philosophy behind Lichen and their advice for shaping inspiring interiors at a moment when the very definition of home is being rewritten.
THE GOOD SORT: When do you recall first seeing furniture as an extension of personal style?
JARED BLAKE: Took a brief trip to Copenhagen, Denmark and discovered via my Airbnb that clothing/personal style was half the battle. A complete lifestyle should reflect in all areas of style.
THE GOOD SORT: If I’m a novice buyer, what’s the first type of piece I should invest in, and what should I be looking for?
JARED BLAKE: That depends on what your apartment calls for and how you like to live. Typically though, a sofa is where you spend the most time, i.e., eating, sleeping & working so that is usually a great item to invest in.
THE GOOD SORT: When shopping for yourselves, what are your criteria for committing to a piece?
JARED BLAKE: A story/provenance, limited supply, and physical connection. It's good to hold or sit on a piece to see if it speaks to you.
THE GOOD SORT: What architectural space (past or present) would be your dream canvas for curating furniture, and why?
JARED BLAKE: We took a team trip to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's studio in CDMX. The photos online don't do it justice but the structure and use of color were very striking yet subdued and had a Bauhaus era feel to the property.
THE GOOD SORT: What’s one design faux-pas in your own lives you look back on and cringe?
JARED BLAKE: Trying to move with Ikea is the worst; it may look good when you buy it but it should rarely leave the apartment after that.
THE GOOD SORT: What explains the current swell in interest in midcentury design?
JARED BLAKE: There was a big swell during the pandemic when people needed quality items in their homes but now it seems people are introverting to discover their styles and who they aspire to furnish a home with.
THE GOOD SORT: There are so many brands out there. Why start your own line of furniture?
JARED BLAKE: Our perspective is unique within the design community. It's also our biggest strength. There is virtually no diversity in furniture.
THE GOOD SORT: What are you reading, watching, and listening to these days?
THE GOOD SORT: Who are some up-and-coming smaller designers (in any field) our readers should know about?
JARED BLAKE: All of our designers are just starting to scratch their potential and have some curve balls to throw in the coming months so, Christine Espinal, Alvaro Ucha Rodriguez, Eric Mayes, Aidan Elias, and Dylan Ahern should deff be on the radar. Some designers you maybe haven't heard of that you should keep an eye out for are Dareus Bowie (wood furniture), Nifemi Marcus Bello (industrial designer), Raja Chantal Maupin, Daniel Darnell (ceramics), and Oliver Sheu (furniture design).
The Sort Six
What’s the object that’s been with you the longest?
My grandfather’s bench. —JB
What brand is totally underrated?
Muji isn't exactly underrated but it is the best thing out right now imo. —JB
What’s one store you can’t visit without buying something?
Front Street General Store in Dumbo. —JB
What’s the best gift you’ve ever given or received?
Sojo Spa —EB
What’s on your desk right now?
A prototype desk lamp from Alvaro Ucha Rodriguez, an ashtray, and a cup of pens / pencils. —JB
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Zander Abranowicz is the Strategy Director of Abbr. Projects. He has published essays in Travel + Leisure, Elle Decor, Kennedy, Kathimerini, Elite Traveler, and Upstate Diary, illustrations in Esquire, and two books with photographer William Abranowicz: This Far and No Further and American Originals. Buzzcut, his monthly newsletter, covers travel, style, history, and nature.
The Good Sort, Delivered
Sign up for a weekly dispatch of style stories from your favorite writers, compelling interviews, and insanely good shopping roundups.