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An agency by design: Modern Principle's Andrew Yang and Daphne Tsamis

An agency by design: Modern Principle's Andrew Yang and Daphne Tsamis

SP01 is proud to now be represented in North America by Modern Principle, a premiere brand and sales-development company based in New York that works with contemporary design and furniture manufacturers. 

In this interview, co-founders Andrew Yang and Daphne Tsamis share how their experiences with leading design companies led to Modern Principle’s approach and values.

What is the relationship between Modern Principle and SP01?

Andrew Yang: We are working to build a retail network for SP01 in North America. We’re essentially acting as the local office for SP01. What we are doing is acting as a management firm for the brand – assisting with marketing but also driving sales with direct sales and wholesale accounts.

You founded Modern Principle together. How did you two initially meet?

Daphne Tsamis: We used to work at Roll & Hill together. Andrew co-founded Roll & Hill in 2010 and was head of the sales and marketing department. I was working under his team focusing wholesale and interior designers in Europe. 

How did Modern Principle come about?

Daphne: I think what we are doing now for different brands draws on the skills and the work we were doing at Roll & Hill. Now we don’t do it for one brand but multiple brands.

Andrew left Roll & Hill a year before I did. We were in discussions about how we could help other brands benefit from this network we had built and we decided to create this agency.

Andrew: When we were at Roll & Hill we were really fortunate to have a lot of opportunities and we also had a lot of friends and peers help us. And I think in that time what we gained was a lot of knowledge and access to people that we wanted to work with but we weren’t necessarily able to work with them for one reason or another. I think what we realised over time was that all the information gathering that we do for one brand is really valuable to a lot of people, or could be really valuable.

Daphne: I think what is different in our approach to say a standard agent in the design industry is that we really want to be perceived as the extension of the designer and the brand.

Basically we wanted to work in collaboration with the brands to decide the positioning, how we want the brand image to be perceived etcetera. Importantly, it is about being consistent in respect to the brand values rather than trying to generate volume quickly. We are looking for organic growth.

Andrew: Daphne and I both have design backgrounds that don’t just have to do with lighting, so we wanted to work with other kinds of design brands, particularly furniture. So that is one of the reasons that we wanted to start this company.

The design world is so small and we generally have really benefited from being helped from other brands. It is better to share information rather than keep it for yourself. I think you gain a lot more and we have done so much and been helped by so many people that that is the kind of spirit that we have, essentially we are sharing a lot of information with the brands that we work with and the more that we grow and move along, the more information we have access to and that we’re able to really utilize to make sure that everyone has access to what they need.

How many brands does Modern Principle represent?

Daphne: We work with SP01 and then a brand called Stellarworks. And we also work with a smaller studio that is called Ladies and Gentleman.

Andrew: The brands we have started to work with are all very different and amazing in their own way and they don’t really overlap. There are a lot of efficiencies, when we go to a particular city we can really cover the market by having multiple brands.

How long has Modern Principle been around for?

Daphne: We started this in February 2016.

What was it that attracted you to SP01 and the collection?

Andrew: It has a lot to do with the people behind the brand. At Roll & Hill, we had worked with Tina [Christina Caredes] and Leighton [Leighton Clarke] for a number of years as Roll & Hill was a supplier to Space Furniture, which is within the same group as SP01.

As SP01 developed, we started to hear more about it from Matt Lorrain [SP01’s Head of Design and Market Development] and also learnt more about the involvement of Lucio and Robin from Metrica, I think it was really the people that gives us a kind of foundation and that kind of connection to the brand. To be honest, we have been approached by a lot of different designers and brands and we find that the infrastructure is really important to each company, having that foundation, and companies don’t always have that in the beginning.

But with SP01 and the people and the team, there is a lot of that so that was a huge attraction to us in wanting to help build the brand and a business in the US.

Daphne: I think there are three criteria for us to pick a brand design-wise. We met with Metrica, designer of SP01’s first collection, when we were in Milan in April and I think SP01 is really fitting a gap in the market. Also the quality is really important. We are really precocious about where products are made and basically we stand-up for luxury brands. Then the people are really important.

Do you have a showroom that is open to the public?

Andrew: We have a small trade showroom that is open to trade clients by appointment only. We show to wholesale clients too. Because it is a smaller showroom it is really there for B2B kind of purposes.

Visit the Modern Principle website: www.modernprinciple.com.

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