When Columbia University PhD students Lu Xiong and Tianjiao Yu met in 2008, they were studying literature. Fast forward seven years and the duo is at the helm of their own custom-color, dyed-to-order bedding company, inspired by global textiles and a shared passion for interior design.
“After graduating, we decided to get lost traveling around the world for a while, and through that open experience encountered families with rich textile traditions, legendary manufacturers—true artists—and modern workshops,” says Xiong.
Flaneur (French for “dreamer” and “idler”) was created as a means of producing high quality bedding highly tailored specifically to each customer’s needs. The company offers (literally!) every color in existence, filtered through the lens of travel; for example, you can shop curated color palettes inspired by Sardinia or Marrakech. And if that’s not your cup of tea, you can always create your own custom shades.
Granted, with sheets that start at $400, these are definitely on the pricy side. But you get what you pay for: Flaneur gives you the flexibility to choose a color that perfectly matches your personal tastes, with the added guarantee of top-notch quality. For design enthusiasts (or just people who are super particular about their bedding), it's a worthwhile purchase.
“Flaneur was created with a straightforward idea: A sophisticated, contemporary, playful approach to personalized bedding,” explains Yu.
“We see ourselves as flaneurs who, through the passion of creating, realized a unique product and supply chain, and became entrepreneurs,” adds Xiong.
We spoke to the design duo to learn more about the difference custom bedding makes and get their tips on choosing the best sets for our bedrooms.
What differentiates Flaneur from other high-end bedding companies?
Yu: Flaneur is the first custom bedding brand with guaranteed delivery in two weeks. Our ingredients are high-quality and guaranteed to last.
Can you explain what you mean by “bud to bed”?
Xiong: Flaneur is on a mission to clear up consumer confusion about cotton, and sharing our “bud to bed” story, which begins with DNA-tested cotton buds to ensure Supima quality cotton, and ends with a supremely unique sheet set for your bed—helps consumers understand cotton quality, production, and the color-dying process. No more compromising on quality.
Yu: Our team goes the extra mile to build an elevated and transparent supply chain. DNA testing authenticates the precise consistency of the extra-long, durable Supina fibers; we reject any batch of cotton that contains traces of inferior cotton. Each order is individually quality inspected before shipping to ensure its absolute perfection.
Since launching in 2015, have you seen an uptick in consumer interest for more responsibly-sourced quality bedding?
Yu: Today's consumer knows that a perfect product should reflect the expertise, talents, and dedication of craftsmen from all over the world. ‘Locally-made’ is a priority to our customers, which is why we partner with a variety of artisans.
How about the custom color trend—have you noticed that gaining traction in the design industry?
Xiong: Advancements in technology and innovations in the global supply chain make custom color widely available for consumers. Before, it was an exclusive service to the industry and interior designers. The time when big players and corporate retailers dominated the traditional supply chain and the market for mass production has passed.
We set out from day one to inspire color into a bleached-white bedding landscape and consumers responded quickly to it. The time when bedding was only a utility choice instead of an important part of personal style has passed. Custom color will become one of the most important trends in the home industry and far beyond.
How many colors do you offer?
Xiong: There is no color we cannot provide! For those overwhelmed or lost in color selection, our Color Experts will curate an edited selection. We are the only brand to offer unlimited—and complimentary—custom color consultation.
What’s the most creative color combinations you’ve seen people use?
Yu: We see customers bringing color inspiration from all over the place. Many like to use bedding to create a burst of color in a room of monotone. A Vermont customer recently mailed us a falling leaf from his backyard asking us to match it to a duvet shade. This inspired part of the 2017 Fall/Winter collection.
Can you tell us a bit about the color palettes used in your “destinations” section? How do you choose what hues to use for each place, and where do you get inspiration for them?
Yu: The collection includes five destinations. For Granada, the color direction was “both familiar and exotic”. Marrakech is an important place for flaneurs to revel in complexities and diversities of ethnicities, histories, and aesthetics; earth tones are selected to mix with natural brightness. Sardinia is selected with the looming dark winters ahead of us; the famed pink beaches give warmth and vibrancy. New England takes a peek into the wondrous New England autumn: The maple trees elegantly change their colors. Bavaria exhibits the chilled and moody colors in autumn attracting many a voyaging flaneur—toast to Oktoberfest!
Looking at more general tips for buying bedding, what should people look for in their purchases?
Yu: Get personal: Since you spend a third of your life in bed, this is the most private place to relax and be yourself. To make your bedroom a real sanctuary, try bedding in colors that you love instead of traditional white.
Stay comfortable. Forget the 1000-thread-count myth and focus on the fabric first: Always look for extra long staple cotton (like Supima), and then choose the one you feel is most comfortable. Finally, match your bedding with your bedroom walls and furniture! You will be thrilled at how stunning your bedroom can become by playing with color. Have fun like you do with your wardrobe.
And on the flip side, are there any red flags people should look out for when choosing bedding?
Yu: Say no to bleached white sheets. Bleaching puts unnecessary strain on the environment. Challenge brands who promote these kinds of sheets.
Xiong: Beware of misleading claims of thread counts, as thread count does not guarantee quality of cotton, construction, or craftsmanship; it simply refers to how many threads are used in the warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) when weaving. Higher thread counts are achieved with more piles, which result in piling.
Head to hiflaneur.com to get your custom color consultation and find the right color for your bedroom.
See more bedding stories:
Why You Should Consider Switching to Organic Sheets
The Absolute Best Bedding, According to Domino Editors
How to Style Your Bed