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Jon Thorson

Published on 12 May 2020

Zero chance of a dull moment for this family of five.

It'd be a likely assumption that living in SoHo would yield a life void of dull moments. The same could be said about raising three kids. The Thorsons do both.

Jon Thorson, Managing Director / CEO of USM Modular Furniture North America, his wife Kim and their genetic ensemble hosted us one Friday afternoon, and we left asking if they'd consider us for adoption. Enid and Mara, the two older sisters, scattered the living room with all their favorite toys, played catch, and filled us in on their typical familial activities — sports practice, Saturday pancake breakfasts at Landmark, museum visits, park time, and church on Sundays.

The Thorsons are living proof that it's totally possible to have a very family-oriented lifestyle while also crushing it as active New Yorkers. In the city, Jon (a Nashville native) and Kim (a midwestern gal by birth), prioritize date night every couple weeks and always attending the kids' sports games. When they need a little break, family skiing trips are the go-to.

We snuck a few moments in between school pickup, dinner prep, costume changes and American Girl tea-time to chat with Jon, while everyone took turns showing us how the family's newest addition (our Pop chair) fit right into their home and lifestyle.

Q: The Pop chair looks right at home. How have you guys been enjoying it so far?

A: One of the things about a loft is that the main living space has to function in a lot of different ways. The swivel on the Pop chair is amazing because you can obviously turn and face the other side of the room, or the desk area. It’s really hard to find a good swivel chair! The deep yellow is perfect, as we needed a touch more color in our place, and the velvet is so luxe!!

Q: How does design impact your life?

A: During college, I did a couple of internships at architecture firms in Nashville and later worked at one of those firms doing hand-drawn illustrations. Somewhere in there, I realized that I was more interested in design and the marketplace than fine art, per se. I moved to NYC in my 20's and continued doing illustrations for architects, and then was lucky enough to work with BDDW (as the VP of Sales). I learned a ton from that experience, and from BDDW's friends and collaborators — Lindsey Adelman, Kieran Kinsella, Rhett Butler, Josh Vogel, Ted Meuhling, David Weeks and many, many more — not to mention the interior designers and clients with whom I worked during my time there. Now at USM, I have the privilege of representing an iconic Swiss brand that I think has a lot of growth potential here in the U.S.

I think our kids are learning to appreciate good design as they are lucky enough to live in New York City, where they can interact with art, design and culture much more readily than other places. We're really grateful for that.

Q: Any niche interests?

A: Kim and I are both ex-basketball players. That love still runs in the family. We both enjoy all things Cold War — books, TV shows, movies, etc. We also love Korean BBQ.

I studied art in college, where I learned I loved German expressionism. Emil Nolde woodcuts and water colors, as well as post-war German work (think: Anselm Kiefer). Also, working American artists like Eric Fischl, Ross Bleckner, Tim Hawkinson, and Alma Allen, and lesser known artists like Josh Vogel, Jane Rosen and Agnes Barley.

As far as design goes, I take inspiration everywhere from Fritz Haller, Eero Saarinen, the Eameses, Yves Behar (Fuse Project) and Commune to Rick Owens, Ricky Clifton, Rhett Butler and Nike. And a ton more.

This interview was conducted in November 2019.