Photography by Conjure
Interview with Aditya Khilnani

When it comes to measuring your quality of life, the space you call home is a thought that often follows. Conjure is a New York-based furniture rental company that recognizes the power of furnishing your space with pieces that resonate with and reflect your personality. Here, COO and cofounder Aditya Khilnani talks about Conjure’s ethos and the magic found in impermanence.

What was the impetus for starting this innovative company?
[Cofounder] Daniel Ramirez and I were continually frustrated by the lack of stylish and affordable home furniture options while we were living in rental apartments. It was painful to find a second home for the furniture and then see so much of it ending up on the curbsides of New York. For a generation constantly on the move, we believed there had to be a better solution that addressed the design, environmental, and convenience needs of our customer base.

Who is your primary customer base?
New Yorkers in their midtwenties to late thirties who are frequently on the move and seeking to upgrade their home interiors. The average millennial now moves twelve times before buying a home, so we aim to serve their needs with flexible and affordable furniture rentals.

Would you talk about some of the highs and lows of building a company?
That’s a great question. Fortunately, it has been mostly highs—seeing the team evolve and grow into an organization, working with super-talented designers to curate collections, and receiving strong customer feedback on our products and service. Of course, there were moments of stress, particularly in the early days of the organization when we were hand-delivering the furniture to homes.

How does the rental process work?
After selecting your furniture and signing a lease online, our team delivers and fully assembles the furniture in your apartment within four to seven business days. At the end of the lease, the customer has the option to renew the lease, buy the furniture, swap it, or return it (and the Conjure team collects everything from the home). Leases are flexible: three to twelve months for as little as sixty-nine dollars per month.

Do you believe a home is a reflection of who you are?
Our homes tell us so much about our personalities. Furniture often reflects your personal style the most, while the collectibles are an amalgamation of memories from different adventures. Conjure tries to make it easy for customers to choose from diverse collections (from midcentury modern classics to Hollywood Regency luxurious pieces) that represent a variety of personal styles and still leave plenty of room to add finishing touches that tell your story.

Also, Conjure is the first in the industry to launch the Bazaar, a curated marketplace of limited-edition home accessories and small collector items uniquely created by talented local designers. The Bazaar serves as a portal for inspiration to help customers complete their homes with beautiful collectibles such as rugs, wallpaper, coffee table books, art, and more.

Do you select pieces for your customers?
Conjure offers a full range of home furniture, including pieces for your living room, bedroom, dining room, and office. Customers can select individual pieces and create their own basket of goods or select precurated packages. For example, we partnered with Adam Charlap Hyman, a renowned New York-based interior architect, to curate four distinct collections inspired by different neighborhoods (the West Village, the East Village, Tribeca, and Soho). These prearranged sets can also help the customer with interior design.

Is New York the primary source of inspiration for the various collections?
A fundamental vision in founding Conjure has always been to make beautiful design accessible. We try to find a balance between classic and avant-garde with stylish yet user-friendly pieces—just like the melting pot of cultures which is so defining of the city. Within just a few square miles of downtown Manhattan, the architectural style and spirit of the neighborhoods vary so much, and this density of design inspiration served as a foundation for our collections.

The beauty of a rental is that it’s not permanent. As your personal style evolves, we believe so should your furniture. Our flexible ownership program makes it easy to trade pieces and packages and transfer credits from any rental piece to another. This reduces the risk level of experimenting with, say, a velvet love seat.

Does this also help to eliminate waste?
Yes, the sourced products are high quality and therefore built to last. We also implement other initiatives to help eliminate waste, thus contributing to reducing the 9.8 million tons of furniture that ends up in landfills every year. Conjure invests in cleaning and repair services to ensure customers receive furniture that looks like new. We develop donation partnerships to find a home for the furniture after its rental life as well. Recently, the company donated hundreds of pieces to Habitat for Humanity, one of our main donation partners. Our ongoing partnership with the Parsons School of Design helps to review our entire supply chain and develop a methodology to track and rank sustainable efforts across the organization.

Are there plans to expand outside of New York?
Conjure was created first and foremost with renters in mind, specifically in New York City where there are millions of them. Having invested in operating capabilities near the city, Conjure is able to deliver to all five boroughs and nearby New Jersey cities. With this latest round of funding, we are planning to expand delivery outside of the current service areas to other bustling cities where renters need affordable and stylish furniture options, too.

Do you have some general interior design tips?
Mix and match! Designing is a constant evolution, so you should have fun. The more risk you take in your home, the more you will push boundaries and continue to understand what drives your personal style. Here are some of my personal favorites:

• Great lighting makes a difference, particularly during the winter. Yellow lights offer a warmer, cozier feeling when compared to white lights.
• Personalize your home with plants and flowers, coffee table books, and candles.
• Wallpaper is a great way to transform your home and separate different rooms.
• Frame a lot of your favorite photographs that remind you of great memories with friends and family.

What do you see for the future of the design and furniture market?
The home furnishings market has seen strong growth during the pandemic, as more people are spending time at home and allocating disposable income toward furniture. I believe this trend will continue and we will see consumers demanding higher-quality products for fairer prices, flexibility in the way they enjoy these pieces without the hassle of ownership, and more transparency when it comes to materials and the manufacturing process.

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