Natelee Cocks
ProductRetro Minimalism

Retro Minimalism

Founded and run by Amy Mill, Custom No. 9 aims to end mass production in interior design with its bespoke furniture and interior brand. Combining a marketing background and passion for a more creative approach to curating furniture for the home, Custom No. 9 aims to put the customer in the driving seat.

Describing their style as ‘retro minimalism’, this marriage of nostalgia and modernity is key to Custom No. 9’s designs.

How did you end up doing what you are doing?

My professional background is in marketing and communications, having previously held roles at various comms agencies in the region. With an innate passion for design and interiors, I thoroughly enjoyed a role in brand activation that saw me take on more of a design and production role for experiential event concepts.

Here I learnt a lot about production. Personally, I have always liked to curate unique pieces for the home and discovered a few years ago that I couldn’t find specific styles I was looking for in the market.

Designed and commissioning a dining table for our home a few years ago, I realized there was a gap in the market for a service-focused custom furniture brand with its own aesthetic and designs. We’ve been incredibly lucky to receive a lot of support and guidance from interior designers in the industry, and the brand has grown organically.

I am intensely passionate about our fast-growing brand and enjoying every moment of the journey. My vision is to offer the region unique and fresh furniture designs that are customizable, with a truly personal approach. 

Why start Custom No. 9 in the first place and where does the name come from? 

I set the business up in 2018 as a passion project, with the aim of helping people design and produce unique furniture for their homes that they couldn’t find readily available here in the UAE.

I had many conversations with industry leaders and interior designers, who I owe a lot to. They gave me a lot of insider advice on a market that I was a relative newcomer to, and their positive feedback on my concept drove me to focus all my time and effort into Custom No. 9.

I realized that there was a real gap in the market for a design-led and locally born furniture brand with a focus on customization through a digital experience. With that in mind, I reinvested earnings into creating the ultimate online custom furniture concept, giving our customers the opportunity to design their own piece of furniture online. In terms of the name – call it clichéd – but I have this thing for the number nine. It comes up everywhere, in important and non-important everyday moments and as logic would have it, our workshop is also number nine (by chance).

How would you describe your personal style? 

Casual. Laid back and as effortless as possible. 

How would you describe Custom No. 9’s style?   

At Custom No.9 we stick to minimal form combined with retro shapes and materials. A style we have coined as ‘retro minimalism’. A mix of angular, rounded and geometric shapes combined with nostalgic materials like Terrazzo make up our collections.

Whilst bold in their own way, they are all rooted in a very simplistic design ethos. Our ‘Meaghs Bed’ is a perfect example of this, with its 17th century colonial style cane headboard option; a material at the height of a mini-renaissance, paired with our simplistic and contemporary black steel frame.

As another example, our ‘Joni’ dining table embraces a sleek curved steel frame paired with our natural stone tops including Terrazzo, an old-age flooring technique at the height of popularity in the 1960s. This marriage of nostalgia and modernity is key to our designs. We believe less is more. With curated statement pieces for the home and an array of accessories, you can create a style that is individual to you and tells your story.

Tell us a bit about the materials you use and how important materiality is to Custom No. 9.   

At Custom No.9 we focus on steel manufacturing with all sorts of natural stones. Materiality is everything to us, with the majority of our customer base coming to us when they want something truly unique and personalized in their home.

When designing our first collection our focus was to separate table top and table bottom, whereby customers could select leg design/color and top material across a wide range of pieces. We have a curated selection of natural stone ‘table top’ materials that are available across our collection.

How would you describe Emirati design or the Emirati design aesthetic? 

Innovative  Pushing limits  Visionary  Heritage  Nomadic   

What are your favorite places in the UAE to get design inspiration?   

I get a lot of inspiration each time I visit the hustle and bustle of Satwa’s tailoring stores, as well as Alserkal and the Deira gallery area like Bastakiya.

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