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When Denver-based furniture designer Jerri Hobdy tuned in to watch this year’s Oscars, she expected a few surprises—a shocking red-carpet look, perhaps, or a memorable acceptance speech. But what she didn’t expect was to see Hollywood’s A-list perched upon more than 50 of her Elowen chairs, which she designed for Anthropologie back in 2015.
“I was shocked; I had no idea beforehand,” Hobdy says. But she shouldn’t have been too surprised that the glamorous seats had caught the eye of the Rockwell Group, the design firm that transformed Los Angeles’ historic Union Station into what they described as “an intimate amphitheater that draws inspiration from the understated elegance of the Academy’s very first ceremonies.” Their design concept called for “rich woods, gleaming metallics, cool, saturated colors, and sumptuous textures,” and the Elowen chair checked many of those boxes with its slender, polished-brass legs and plush velvet upholstery in a rich navy-blue hue.
This is no under-the-radar design, either. After debuting in September 2016, the Elowen became Anthropologie’s top-selling item by volume, with $1 million in sales. In fact, it was Hobdy who helped propel the brand to its current position as a home-furnishings powerhouse. Back when Anthropologie discovered then-20-year-old Hobdy working at a small design house in Dallas and asked her to join their team as an in-house designer, “no furniture was being produced or sold [by the brand],” she says. “I was brought on board to help with this new venture for the organization.” Since then, Hobdy—now an independent designer with a First Avenue studio and her own line in the works—has dreamed up more than 200 pieces for the retailer; creations she describes as “updated takes on classic silhouettes, with a feminine touch throughout.”
As for the Elowen—which Anthropologie still sells in a range of styles, fabrics, and colors (the Velvet Elowen Chair is priced at $398)—“I wanted to create a simple yet elevated chair that could sit in any space,” Hobdy says. “Every time I design a new piece, I like to imagine where it will live and its overall functionality. Initially, [I envisioned the Elowen] in people’s homes, but I came to learn that due to its sophisticated simplicity, it translated in any place of business as well”—and even to the world’s most glamorous stage.