Style Profile: Tim Friar, Owner of Grid Furnishings

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Tim Friar, Owner of Grid Furnishings

If you hadn't already heard, IKEA is coming to town. The Swedish design giant announced in early 2015 that it would bring its big-box modern design to the Polaris area in 2017, meaning Columbusites never again have to travel to Pittsburgh or Cincinnati-at least for their home goods. Great news for fans of European goods, but what about furniture that's made closer to home? Enter Tim Friar.

"The focus of [Grid Furnishings] is North American modern," says Friar, who opened Grid in the Short North in 2010. He closed that location last year with plans to reopen elsewhere (see sidebar). "It's not all necessarily made here, but it's all been designed here and has that North American aesthetic."

Friar-a Columbus College of Art & Design grad who is also director of business development at Design Central-decided to open a retail store after he and his wife, Kelly, had little luck shopping locally for modern pieces for their home.

"When we renovated our house, there weren't any stores in Columbus doing what we needed," he says. "I realized, 'We can make this happen.' "

For five years, Friar has satisfied lovers of modern aesthetics with lines such as Toronto-based Gus*Modern and Minneapolis-based Blu Dot-his biggest brands-as well as Modloft, from Miami.

Gus*Modern sells only through dealers like Friar, and he hopes to soon "have as much Gus product as anybody in the country," he says. Blu Dot "is a little more forward-thinking," Friar continues. "They're really branching out and adding new things on a monthly basis. What they're doing is cutting edge in the U.S." These items hit at lower- to mid-range price points, including $100 chairs and $4,000 sectionals.

"You can find a lot of modern furniture online, but you can't experience it-sit in the chair, feel the fabric-online," Friar says. "Experiencing this stuff firsthand is critical."