I have known about EF|LM for a long time, as top designers constantly use them as sources for projects, but I had never seen their showroom at the Washington Design Center until last week, when Showroom Manager Annie De Meo invited a small group of designers and moi for an elegant lunch.
We all had a moment of silence for the company’s founder, Lewis Mittman, who had died at age 96 just two days before. Mittman’s son, Steve, continues as the company president and granddaughter Amanda (Steve’s daughter) is the company’s marketing and P.R. director.
Lewis Mittman started the company making custom mattresses. Annie was telling us that they recently revisited their roots with an unforgettable order: an 84-inch diameter round mattress, 12 inches high, to be made for a 13-year-old boy!
Speaking of bedding, one designer told me about a client she had where a custom bed she had ordered wasn’t quite right — even though EF|LM made it (by hand) precisely as it was ordered. The company took it back and made a new one for that fussy client. Incredible customer service.
Annie made a sun-dried tomato pasta for our small group and served it with a huge platter of grapes and bursting-ripe strawberries — a perfect light lunch for a hot day. At least two designers made order inquiries before they left, so the meal was as effective as it was delicious.
I left the showroom with their catalog, which has pictures (the ones you’ve been looking at in this post) that are styled just as precisely as the furniture is made at the company’s factory in High Point, North Carolina. One designer at the lunch who had been to the factory commented that you can eat off the floor there, it is so scrupulously clean.
Annie said that once orders come in and the fabric for upholstery is provided, the piece is made in just two weeks. Compare that to 12 weeks for most companies.
Annie, who has worked with other furniture manufacturers, says this one is different in that she can phone the president — and reach him — at any time. She speaks to Steve Mittman a couple times per week.
She also told us that she can reach the individual who is building a piece of furniture she ordered to discuss finishes, upholstery, or whatnot. At some other companies, showroom managers aren’t even told where the pieces are made, much less who is making them.
Everything for residential use is made in North Carolina. The company is also producing a lot of furniture for hospitality (hotels, etc.), which is made in China. Steve Mittman travels there every two weeks to oversee the work. I can’t imagine what that does to his inner clock!
I’ll part now with more photos of EF|LM furniture — I was struck by how many kinds and styles of furniture they make, and this is only a tiny sampling.