Work Friends

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From left: JARED BLAKE, co-founder of Lichen, 31; CHRISTINE ESPINAL, designer, 25; ERIC MAYES, designer, 27; ED BE, co-founder of Lichen, 33; VIAN LEE, project manager, 25; and ALVARO UCHA RODRIGUEZ, designer, 23. Photographed with wooden furniture of their own design at their store, Lichen, in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on March 4, 2021.

Ed Be and Jared Blake bonded over a shared love for design after having met through Craigslist. Today, they run an innovative store and studio together.

From left: JARED BLAKE, co-founder of Lichen, 31; CHRISTINE ESPINAL, designer, 25; ERIC MAYES, designer, 27; ED BE, co-founder of Lichen, 33; VIAN LEE, project manager, 25; and ALVARO UCHA RODRIGUEZ, designer, 23. Photographed with wooden furniture of their own design at their store, Lichen, in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on March 4, 2021.

Interview by Jason Chen
Photograph by David Chow

Jared Blake: About four years ago, I’d gotten some gray Eames shell chairs on eBay — and then my dad bought me a single yellow one, but I didn’t want it, so I put it on Craigslist and Ed came to buy it. When we met, he was wearing something I would wear: a fitted Mets cap with a blue oxford, black pants and checkered Vans, the ultimate business-casual, casual-business outfit. It was like a hidden language. He told me he was stockpiling furniture to open a brick-and-mortar store. And I’d been thinking about dealing furniture online.

Ed Be: We started selling out of a storage unit. Now we’re in a bigger storefront in East Williamsburg that we opened just before the pandemic began. Most days we start at 8:30 in the morning, running around the city and sourcing until 7 at night. We hit estate sales, offices that are moving — wherever there’s furniture, we’re there.

J.B.: Recently, we started making our own furniture, because we’d heard from people who wanted smaller pieces, like a 6-foot-by-3-foot wooden dining table, which you don’t often find in the vintage world. The goal is to create affordable designs that disappear into your home the way a white T-shirt does in your closet; they’re not nec

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Work Friends

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