5 MINUTES WITH PHILIP BERSHAD FROM PHILLIP JEFFRIES
When you grow up learning to touch the walls of every restaurant, hotel, or home you visit, it’s not until you are about 12 or 13 that you realize there is something a little kookie with this.” - Philip Bershad. Philip grew up being surrounded by design, travel and inspiration through his family’s wallcovering business. As a kid, he helped out in the sample room and literally climbed the corporate ladder working in the warehouse. After going away to college, studying abroad, a career in corporate America and multiple travels around the world, Philip returned to his roots. In 2001 he rejoined Phillip Jeffries declaring “I have grasscloth flowing in my blood.” As President, Philip is a driving force, along with his brother Jeffrey, in building Phillip Jeffries as the leader in natural, textured and specialty wallcoverings. He continues to be inspired by travel – as Philip has opened distribution in over 20 countries and traveled to 5 continents. Philip currently resides in Northern New Jersey with his wife and two children (both kids have wallcoverings named after them of course.)
Q1. What is the most important thing to you as President of Phillip Jeffries at the moment?
At Phillip Jeffries we are always looking ahead, always looking to innovate, and come out with that next new product that is going to WOW, inspire, and make a designer say, “Oh my god, I have to have that.” For us, it’s a combination of innovating, coming up with new amazing products, and delivering.
At Phillip Jeffries what’s unique about us is not only do we aspire to have beautiful products, but we have a strong commitment to excellence. That means ensuring products arrive and are shipped out right away. Approximately 80% of our line you can order by 5 p.m. EST and it will be shipped the same day. In an industry of 6, 8 or 16-week deliveries, this is exceptional combination of beautiful products, innovation, and delivery.
Q2. Phillip Jeffries started as Wallpaper Imports and focused on wallcoverings from Europe and the Far East. When did you first start designing and creating wallcoverings in-house in the USA, and why?
Well you definitely did your homework; the company did start as Wallpaper Imports.
My father started it over 43 years ago in our garage with just 10 grasscloths. From there we’ve continued to innovate and grow. When Dad started the company sourcing from the best mills in Japan, the Far East, and Europe, he worked with designers in those houses to bring beautiful wallcoverings to the US.
I’ve been in the company for 17 years. Over the last 12-15 years, working in collaboration with my brother and partner Jeffrey, and our Design team, we’ve gone from sourcing products to creating and designing products and working with artisans to realize that vision of creating beautiful innovative products. A major reason we stay ahead is by investing in great design and R&D.
Q3. You mentioned your design team just now; how do you keep creativity alive within the team, especially with such a tight schedule??
Like I mentioned before, we are committed to design. We realize that coming up with great products and delivering it is important, but first it’s about delighting our clients.
Making them “ooh and ah” when they see what’s new from Phillip Jeffries.
With that, we’ve now invested in an incredible team of designers in both textiles, prints & digitals to create a team that aspires to inspire. Together we come up with unique innovative products and at the same time we have lot of fun.
Q4. Is it hard to maintain a consistent "Phillip Jeffries" style throughout such vastly different ranges? Is this something you even particularly aim to do?
That’s a great question. One of the unique things about Phillip Jeffries is we span a broad sense of design looks or genres. Some of the most minimalist designers use our wallcovering to some of the most maximalist. From transitional to eclectic and beachy to lofty. One of the things that’s so great about the line is we’re constantly inspired by the design innovations that come from the designers we work with.
At Phillip Jeffries it’s about creating amazing wallcoverings. Each season it’s telling a story of different design style or look that lends itself to that specific look. Then we let the designers take it from there.
Q5. What excites you about the future of the design industry, and in particular high-end interiors?
What’s exciting for us is to see the continued innovation and personalisation of the industry. We continue to be wowed by the designers we work with and the ways they use Phillip Jeffries wallcovering. For instance, ceilings, the fifth wall, have become a new standard in so many ways for designers. Wallcoverings can be used in really innovative ways throughout the home and office.
Q6. You've recently launched a software to help customers customise their orders. How important is customisation to your business and do you see this as a major growth area for the future?
We see design going in the way of personalization. We’re seeing more and more designers who want to make bespoke wallcovering. We’ve recently launched PJ Mashup. We could have said “PJ Custom,” but we wanted it to feel cooler. If you can picture Jeffrey and I with headphones doing a mash-up when you place your next custom order.
The PJ Mashup tool gives designers the ability to visualize the background, texture, or colour in over 10,000 possibilities that allow a designer to tell their own story.
Q7. You are members and official Partners of The Design Leadership Network. How long have you been involved and what value do you see in a community of this kind to the future of the interiors industry?
We’ve been involved in designer membership groups for a while. The value we see in these types of communities are the forums for designers, architects, and manufactures to learn about new and evolving trends in the industry. Sharing and collaborating to make this industry even more innovative than it is today. If you’re not learning, innovating, and growing, you’re dying. As a lifelong learner, I for one can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Below are a few highlights from the latest PJ range, or view the full collection.