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Furniture Designer Normand Couture

As soon as you begin to speak with Normand Couture, you can hear the smile in his voice. “I like to laugh a lot,” he says with a chuckle. “I think life is beautiful when you’re having fun.” As a home furnishings veteran-turned-designer, Couture likes to think ahead of the curve, while not introducing designs too far ahead of their time. “They can still see my tail lights,” he says. “It’s useless to be misunderstood.”

Getting designs just right is likely a result of having been involved in every part of the industry, from sales and store ownership to now designing multiple lines of furniture, including outdoor and casegoods items. And he designs seating with upholstery upstart Pinnacle Seating Studio, a division of Palliser Furniture Upholstery.

“I studied design when I was in my 20s, and when I graduated I was offered a job in a high end furniture store with modern contemporary furniture. This store grew into a retail chain, and eventually the company was listed on the NY Stock Exchange.

Then I went to the other side of the fence and became a manufacturer; a new company was born with Caméléon, a collection of contemporary furniture which became very successful. I ultimately sold this company and stayed on as a member of the Board of Directors. When the economy turned sour I tried to buy the company back, but they would not sell.

THE INTERVIEW: Normand Couture

Next, Couture International was created with production taking place in China. After several years, I grew tired of traveling to China and lead times there were slowly increasing, so I decided that instead of losing my reputation I would bring manufacturing back to the U.S. or Canada.”


As fate would have it, he spoke at the Contemporary Design Group (CDG) Conference in Florida that year where he met Cary Benson, President and CEO of Palliser Furniture Upholstery. After a couple glasses of wine, they began scheming. The two companies were very different players - Palliser was a powerhouse producing large quantities of furniture, and he was a boutique niche furniture creator. Benson said he would be on the lookout for someone who could fit the bill.

“A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from Cary. He invited me to come to North Carolina and meet with them. They had been wanting to launch a high end product line, and I knew the niche. They knew how to build furniture. A partnership with Pinnacle Seating Studio was born.”

The name itself is one of the best names in the industry. Brand awareness is very important, but Ultrasuede® also has a beautiful look and the colors are outstanding. It was a no-brainer for us. When we take a piece and put it in Ultrasuede, it’s like covering a piece of furniture in leather. The fabric marries well with curves, actually any kind of shape. If you have a nice silhouette, it will look beautiful in Ultrasuede®. All the virtues of the product, I don’t even have to talk to customers about it because they already know what a wonderful product it is.

Ultrasuede® is also a great vehicle because of the colors; they can completely change the emotion of a space. You can bring fantasy. You can make it very formal. You can use it in a corporate environment. You can use it in kids’ rooms. You can do so many things with it! You’ll probably change everything else in a room before you change your Ultrasuede.

I don’t follow trends; I don’t believe in them. Being eclectic is not necessarily a trend, but a way of living. I believe more in letting people express themselves. My pieces are modern classics... reinterpretations of classic silhouettes.


I’m most proud that I’ve brought things to life - my three children, my products - and the companies I have brought to success.

I draw a lot of my inspiration from clothing. I like fashion. Sometimes I will buy the big Vogue, and I’ll see something that catches my eye and tear the page to keep it. And eventually it will turn into something. Anything I see, I immediately think of how I would transform it. I like handbags. I’m designing a line of mattresses now that are very high end, and the small details are almost exclusively inspired by handbags. I also love cars, and I’ll look at the lines and see a sofa.

I love to travel. When I had my stores, I was the buyer so I traveled. I went to Italy, Denmark, Shanghai, probably 50 countries. This inspired me a lot. My first years going to Italy with my French heritage gave me a more European aesthetic. When I think about great travel I think about Paris. I feel good in Paris. In America, a building would last 75 years. In China it lasts 25 years. In Europe, 125 years. But to design products that can become timeless that are not just an expression of the moment … I like to do that, and I’m inspired by people who do that.

I have a tough time sleeping because I have too many ideas. I thought it would get better as I got older, but I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of buildings I’m designing. I’m currently designing a shed. Well, not just a shed. It’s going to be beautiful! It’s very tough to switch off the imagination.

all images used with permission of Pinnacle Seating Studio.

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