Design Within Reach & Richard Sachs From issue 84 • Interview by Brad Roe with images from Brian Vernor & Dan Chabanov

Why Design Within Reach partnered with Richard Sachs

It’s always a good thing when non-endemic brands join the cycling world. We are huge fans of the modern home furnishings offered by Design Within Reach, so when we found out DWR’s vice president of creative, Michael Sainato, was involved with frame builder Richard Sachs on a cycling project, we reached out to him to learn more about their cyclocross team and this unique partnership for 2019.

Michael, tell us how you got involved with Richard Sachs and your cycling background? Andy Cruz of House Industries first brought the idea to us at DWR after his business partner Rich Roat, a passionate cyclist, unexpectedly passed away in November 2017. Rich was a close friend of Richard Sachs, for whom he did all the Sachs branding. Along with Rich’s passing, Richard’s long time sponsor Nokia Health announced they would have to pull out, so Andy connected DWR and Sachs. House Industries has always been a friend of DWR and the House team designs one of our best-selling items, the Neutra House Numbers. Aligning House, Sachs, DWR and our parent company, Herman Miller, just seemed to make sense, especially since there are so many dedicated cyclists in these companies. Herman Miller’s executive creative director Ben Watson and myself are the two biggest cheerleaders for this partnership. It’s important to know that both DWR and HM are all about storytelling and supporting creative people in all fields, and you couldn’t ask for a better fit than Richard Sachs.

I’ve loved bicycles ever since I was a little kid and had my starts and stops with it over the years. Although I’ve never raced, I’ve always been brought into the sport by more dedicated people than myself and experienced many things firsthand, from criterium racing to cyclocross. I started riding a fixed gear for training way before they were ever referred to as “fixies” and still put in some serious mileage on it. At the end of the day it still comes back to the freedom a bike gave you when you were 10 and the ability to explore and create new adventures. I also love the solitude it provides and in most cases I still prefer to ride alone.

Can you describe your role at DWR and what is the culture like there in terms of cycling? As the VP of creative, I’m responsible for pretty much anything that has the DWR logo on it—catalog, ads, stores (or studios as we call them), website, product branding and so on. I wouldn’t say we have a rich cycling community, but a lot of our partnerships have come through the cycling world, from Rapha to Herschel. Having said that, our founder Rob Forbes started the brand Public Bikes after leaving DWR. I think the Herman Miller side of our company has more cycling enthusiasts and sponsors a variety of rides in Michigan where they’re based.

What has it been like working with Richard Sachs on a cycling team/project and are you enjoying it? It’s been amazing and I’m loving every minute of it! It’s shown all the brands in a new light and I think some people are still scratching their heads over why we did this, which is great. When you see the amazing kits that House designed, with all the company logos on the Rapha gear, it just feels right. It certainly exposed our employees to the world of cycling and specifically ’cross, but also brought out all our existing customers who are cyclists. We’ve received a ton of requests for kits ever since the start of the season. On a personal note, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know an icon like Richard and we’ve definitely struck up a friendship that I hope will last way beyond the team.

You are also partners with Rapha on the clothing side? The official sponsors of the team are Richard Sachs, House Industries, DWR and Herman Miller. Rapha supplies the kits for the team and we purchase additional items to sell. Having said that, the team has become a bit of a case study for the new Rapha Custom program and we certainly welcome them as partners. Whether we’re talking about the team’s gear or their bikes, our goal is to encourage people to see that design has an impact and importance in everything—not just furniture—and hopefully expose people to cycling and ’cross along the way.

Have you created a memorable lunch ride at DWR? I have a short route I do in the summer on my fixed gear between meetings (lunch hour doesn’t really exist), but I haven’t had any takers to join me yet. One day….

Cycling can be an insular world. From our perspective we are thrilled when non-endemic companies like DWR partner with cycling. Why do you think this project works for DWR? And do you have any further insight into encouraging other creative brands to join the cycling world with partnerships on the business side? As I mentioned earlier, we’re storytellers, whether it be about a product, a designer or a destination, and we want to work with people and entities that share these similar beliefs. It exposes our brand to a wider and different market, shakes up an established world like cycling and brings us some nice value at the end of the day. I think doing something different is always something any brand should try. You know the results you’ll get by advertising in the same magazines and participating in the same events year to year, so why not take some of your budget and explore some new avenues. I think cycling is such a great venue because it touches on so many things: design, technology, people, endurance, competition, history. It really has something for almost any brand. I recently found out that one of the adjustments on the Aeron Chair designed by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf for Herman Miller is modeled after the quick-release hub on a road bike—full circle!

(All images by Brian Vernor except the image of Michael Sainato and Richard Sachs together, by Dan Chabanov)

More: richardsachs.com; dwr.com; houseindustries.com

From issue 84. Buy it here.