Sunday, May 24, 2009

dining in shenzhen...

One of my favorite restaurants to go to when we're in Shenzhen is Dan Gui Shen or "Laurel" in English. It's Chinese Fusion for Chinese people. Real authentic but with a really cool modern twist. Mina and I managed to escape for a few hours and have a real date!

Like the incredible geek that I am, half way through the dinner I took out my phone and snapped photos of the food on the table. My lovely dinner guest took it all in stride, and was totally diggin' the pumkin and taro. We ate it too fast to get a photo, but the sliced BBQ pork was so awesome! The whole dinner was delicious. It always is at this place.

I wanted to share it with you just in case you happen to pass through Shenzhen China in the near future.


great idea for your kids...

I was just chatting with my sister, and she casually tells me that her and her husband are doing T Shirt business. So I went to her website...and Wow!They have the coolest thing there called Tee Party's...!!! You have to check this out! Basically all the kids at your children's birthday party color in a selected character or anything, and then it goes onto a T Shirt. How Cooool!!!! If you live in the Philadelphia area you have a great option for your kids birthday!

Check out the Palm Printing website.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


It was a short but great trip to Shanghai. There I met with some wonderful people mostly factory owners. Things are really tough in China. These are certainly interesting times here. They are all making cuts. Luckily, some of them need design help. While others are just relying (and some reverting back to) copying the same old stuff.

I did find one really bright story. I had dinner with a great guy named David Bannister. We sat outside at Luna in the ultra hip Xin Tian Di. The weather was perfect.

David is a man with a long record of success going far back in the furniture business from Asia. I was so lucky to be able to share dinner and hear all about his experiences. And learn! He's such a cool guy! He's just launched a line of chairs called "Metro" and it's off to a great start! No surprise.

I'm back in Shenzhen and ready to continue designing some new products for fall introductions. So it's back to the grind...◦

Monday, May 11, 2009

off to Shanghai...

...i'm off to Shanghai tomorrow morning. I'm meeting with a really nice company owned by a husband and wife team. They've been running their factory with great precision for almost 10 years now. But most importantly they're really genuinely nice people. So hard to find. We're talking about a really cool project, so I hope to have some exciting news soon. My fingers are crossed.

While in Shanghai, I can't wait to go to Taikang Lu. This is an old preserved street/neighborhood that has been converted into all things art and cool. Original "Lane" houses restored and converted into artist studios, shops, cafes, and coffee, and awesomeness!◦

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An interview with Van Thanh Nga

An Interview with Van Thanh Nga from Vietnam

Which publications associated with your field do you regularly read?

"After attending some online lessons on home decor in May-June this year, I usually receive from monthly basis newsletter on interior decoration and relevant topics. Besides I also read some other links and websites by other authors. I am most impressed by the website Design On The Edge by Robert Petril."

Happy Mother's Day...

Mina you're an amazing mother. I'm so in love!
Mom, without you I would have only created messes.
Happy Mother's you both!!!

- robert◦

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Angelo said...

From HGTV's "Rate My Space"

Angelo Surmelis
Monday, May 4, 2009

"more from high point...

One of the best things about any line of work, is getting to see how others do what you do. When I was younger and still figuring stuff out, I worked at Starbucks. This was quite awhile back. To give you and idea, I worked at one of the only two Starbucks in all of Los Angeles & the company hadn't gone public yet. We're talking Ye Olden Days. Yester Year.

While I was at said, Starbucks, I vowed to make the best espresso drink in the history of coffee (insert clenched fists waving towards the heavens). I would go to other gourmet espresso bars and marvel at the shots being pulled & the crema. Depending on the type of beans (sometimes region, cost, quality), grind, machine & barista...espresso shots would taste differently. Even when I knew I may be limited by what I was working with and my barista "talents" I still loved marveling at others who did the same thing I did, but differently.

Being at High Point was a little like that. There were so many beautiful collections, vendors and artisans. Many familiar names & faces are bringing their wares to the marketplace....and one on the verge of you knowing who he is:

ROBERT PETRIL JR. has been in the furniture business for years. It's in his blood. Literally. His Dad was in the business and Robert is finding his own path. He lives in China with his beautiful wife & kids and has worked behind the scenes for many recognizable names in the furniture business as a designer.

Well, it's time for him to start making a name for himself and bring his keen eye and sense of style to the world. You can read more about him and all he does on his blog: DESIGN ON THE EDGE"◦

Friday, May 8, 2009

have you been to Spin...?

I love Spin! It's hidden in a parking lot behind a beauty salon, The Shanghai shop is a cavernous room with a concrete floor, an unfinished ceiling, and cool music playing in the background. Track lights are highlighting simple, artful ceramics that are some of the coolest things I've ever seen. Most have Japanese-style touches , and they are handmade in Jingdezhen, China's porcelain capital since the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Spin was spun out of the restaurant business in Shanghai and Taipei. Jeremy Kuo, a software engineer, opened several Japanese restaurants outfitted with dinner sets imported from Japan. But the dishware was expensive and unremarkable. Mr. Kuo's solution was to have his own dishes made in China. A short walk from Spin are People 7 and Shintori. They are two of my favorite restaurants in Shanghai.

New items or styles — sink basins, bone-china teapots or brick-red bowls, for example — are introduced every three months. Quantities are limited because the china is hand-crafted

Spin is a "must visit" when you find yourself in Shanghai. I've been collecting pieces from there for the last several years, and I'm going back very soon to get my "Spin fix", and add some pieces to my collection. I can't wait to see what they are up to now...

Spin, 758 Julu Lu, Building 3
(86-21) 6279-2545


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

times are let's get creative!

I've been in the furniture business for about 25 years now. And quite frankly, I've never seen more challenging times. When times were good, we were fighting against the electronics industry for consumer dollars. People were saving their pennies for flat screens TVs before a new sofa.

It's our fault. There was simply not much excitement. Furniture has become a necessity not something that people desire like a great new piece of fashion clothing, or a really cool new car with great new technology inside. Those industries are ever evolving and exciting!

I see these times as a great opportunity. An opportunity to capture people's imaginations. 10 years ago HGTV blasted onto the scene. People finally had a place to go to learn and be inspired about all things for the home, and to be entertained in the process. There's such a wealth of information and media available today to learn about design, and decorating our homes and gardens. There are huge opportunities for the furniture industry if we just pay attention and dare to be different.

People like Angelo Surmelis from HGTV's "Rate My Space" are totally "getting it". He's launching "Angelo: Home" in the worst of times. And I believe he will be wildly successful. Why? Because his line is so exciting! It's just not the same old stuff we always see. It's "cool", "fresh", and SO creative!

We all need to take a lesson from him. So let's go! Let's get creative and give people a reason to love furniture!

Click the link below, and listen to Angelo, myself, and others on NPR radio from the High Point Furniture Market to hear the latest news...listen now - NPR Radio Clip


Monday, May 4, 2009

Mom! I'm on TV!!!

I was flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco two weeks ago. Luckily I managed to sleep most of the flight. When I awoke to the sounds of spoons "clanking" on coffee cups about an hour before landing, I switched on the in-flight entertainment system. As I drank my coffee, I found my favorite HBO show "Entourage".

I was so happy! Shortly into the episode titled "Fire Sale", Eric was on the phone with Ed Norton's agent. The scene flashed to her office, and as she was pacing back and forth screaming at Eric I saw them!! There in her office were two of MY CHAIRS!!! 

I'll never forget that moment. Oh, and the coffee was actually pretty good too. I know it's a little weird, but I really like United airlines coffee...go figure.


Some of my work...


Some more of my work...

Above photographs by Nico Xu and myself, at Shanghai's "Shintori" restaurant. Thank you again Jeremy, for letting us use your awesome awesome place!


Showroom and interior design...

The above showroom in High Point, NC was designed by Robert Petril, for Simon Li Furniture.

My "Tea Room" in Shanghai. Eventually this room was finished with some awesome large square velvet floor cushons around the other two walls, corner sheers, and lot's of cool various size fabric pattern pillows for the back. I loved to come into this room and relax after a long day, and make Gong Fu Cha tea for my wife and I. It was kind of funny how I used to chill there, and get inspired about new furniture ideas while sitting on the floor. I miss this room!

Shenzhen flat. Making a cool place for Buddha to chill, candles, and the cool lamps I found in Shanghai, making a very cool entry.

Living room in Shanghai


Britt Albright from JC Penney

“Robert is a rare and original talent in an industry that survives with an attitude of "me too's". When other designers are satisfied to copy the success of others, Robert is busy looking for something unique and new...He has the introspective vision to see what others haven't seen, and the extroverted skills necessary to lead people where they haven't yet been. Bravo Robert.”
— Britt Albright, Senior Designer, JCPenney, July 10, 2008


David Cox from Sofa Mart

“Every visit to see Robert’s newest creations is filled with anticipation because it is well-known that what he unveils will be fresh, distinct and marketable. Wherever he goes, my customers and I will surely follow.”
— David Cox, Upholstery Buyer, Sofa Mart, July 21, 2008


David Mattheson from Leather Miracles

"Since I met Robert I have been refreshed and impressed by his perspective of the furniture industry. New ideas that are well grounded not by what he "thinks" but what he hears, sees, feels and tastes. What the wine industry calls an organoleptic experience. Although he has a well defined business direction, he is open to change as his environment continues to evolve. I would like to say he is the new breed. A composite of the school of hard knocks in sales experience and a understanding of coming fashion and contemporary retail trends. Old enough to know a lot and young enough to learn more.Personal skills are impeccable; problem solving team player. A creative that knows the road and I believe the roadmap for the future."
— David Mattheson Sr, Leather Miracles, July 12, 2008


Sunday, May 3, 2009

My father's shoes just don't fit...

My father is a great salesman. A man with incredible talent. He's been working as a salesman in the furniture industry for over 40 years. He's simply the best "pitch man" I've ever heard! His customers are always mesmerized as he walks them through his showroom, presenting the season's new collections with great ease, passion, and professionalism. He's known for tapping his big diamond pinkie ring on the doors of the dining room china cabinets to bring attention to the detail in the glass. His shoes are always spit polished, and not the tiniest wrinkle can be found in his suit and tie.

My mother on the other hand is a "creative". She is the queen of arts and crafts. She could take any old scraps of paper, and turn them into a playful work of art. She would spend hours in the basement in the 70's making terrariums with colored sand in fish bowls. Remember those? Today she still spends her free time surrounded by hundreds of jars full of beads and stones as she creates the next pieces of beautiful jewelry.

As I was growing up, I was being groomed to be a carbon copy of my father. While all the other kids in school were wearing corduroy pants and tan construction boots, I was wearing perfectly ironed slacks and "loafers" with tassels on them. But there was one big problem. It just didn't feel right. In fact, I used to pack my school bag with corduroy pants and tan construction boots, and change into them behind my neighbor's house. It's amazing I wasn't arrested! All through my teenage years, and into my 20's I was a total rebel in disguise. I had a whole secret wardrobe complete with black combat boots and a leather motorcycle jacket. I had a tattoo I kept hidden under my neatly pressed dress shirts. What a pain in the ass that was!

In my late 20's and early 30's, I did indeed follow in my father's footsteps. I became a very successful salesman, and later a successful sales manager in the furniture industry. I was making an incredible living. Life was pretty good on the surface. But the real truth was...I hated it! Nothing felt right. And money and titles were not buying happiness! I wanted to do something creative with my life. I had a long time dream, and just had no idea how to go about realizing it. I just believed it wasn't in the cards for me. My life path was set, and that was it.

Then one day I accepted a job with a small "up and coming" Italian leather sofa manufacturer. My job was V.P. of Sales & Marketing, and my task was to launch the company onto the American market. The owner was the principle designer. The product was very beautiful, and the details were executed with great precision. I spent the first three months at the factory in Italy helping him get the collection ready for America. One day he was leaving for a two day business trip to the U.K., and I asked him if it was OK for me to work with the graphic artist on an idea I had for a sofa. He agreed and left for his trip. I went to work on visualizing the idea in my head, and after two days of struggling with the artist who spoke no English, (my Italian was very basic at best) I had created my first furniture design. Those two days changed my life forever! The sofa was made, and it actually sold!!

Since then I've never looked back. I took off my loafers, business suits, and my ties. I rolled up my sleeve to proudly display my tattoo, and began to follow my real dreams. I've been designing ever since. Furniture of course, but also my home, motorcycles, the way the dinner table was set, and anything else I can get my hands on. I've even modified my own clothes. I now live my life with great passion and happiness. I will always believe if you can dream it, you can do it. And, I have no regrets for starting so late. I've learned so much from from every experience, and I carry it all forward with me in everything I do.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Furniture Today

Bisbo, Petril resigning Trayton America posts: "Two executives have resigned from management positions at Trayton ..."◦

Furniture Today

Petril joins Simon Li: "ATLANTA -- Robert Petril Jr. has joined Simon Li Furniture, Trayton ..."◦

Furniture Today

Petril is North America sales VP at Incanto: "Robert Petril Jr. has joined Italian leather upholstery producer I..."◦