Mod furniture: See how CB2 stacks up

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2011 - 9:59 AM

The hip and mod CB2 opens its first Minnesota store in Calhoun Square on Saturday. See how it compares with similar furniture retailers West Elm and Ikea.

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CB2 Knitted Poufs are stout and sturdy mini-beanbags stuffed densely with pellets. They do double duty as seating and side tables. Available in four colors, $89.95 each at cb2.com.

When CB2 opens its first Minnesota store in Calhoun Square on Saturday, it will be an overdue gift to fans of modern furniture. "Reasonably priced modern furniture is in short supply in the Twin Cities," said Cy Winship of Cy Winship Design in Minneapolis. "It's odd that in the home of the prairie design school, we haven't embraced modern like Denver and San Francisco have."

Modernism, which started in the early 1900s, is defined by clean and simple lines. It's often confused as being trendy or contemporary, which it is not, said Lisa Peck of Lilu Interiors in Minneapolis. "It's a timeless classic," she said.

CB2 joins other modern faves, Ikea and West Elm, in the Twin Cities market. All three offer simple design to blend into any decor. They're also a treasure trove for anyone trying to furnish a small space on a budget.

WHO SHOPS THERE?

CB2: The average age is 34, but a buyer's age or gender is always secondary to clean, simple design, said CB2 director Marta Calle.

Ikea: Most are 25 to 35, but the spectrum includes young professionals, college students, families and empty-nesters, said spokeswoman Brooke Nelson.

West Elm: Age demographics are not disclosed, said Abigail Jacobs, director of public relations, but its customers have diverse, eclectic tastes.

CURRENT COLOR PALETTE

CB2: Neutral gray and oatmeal accented with teal blue, orange and in the spring, fuchsia.

Ikea: Gray and gray/brown with earthy industrial tones, but purple adds a surprise.

West Elm: Neutral gray and white with red, yellow, green and silver.

ICONIC PIECE

CB2: Go Cart desk in chartreuse or black ($149).

Ikea: Where to begin? The Billy Bookcase ($40 and up) and the Klippan sofa ($299).

West Elm: Tillary modular seating ($149 and up).

SHOPPERS' PERKS

CB2: Room planners are a new, free service.

Ikea: Two new programs -- the Ikea Family loyalty card and a new personal shopper and delivery service ($99 and up).

West Elm: Free design service in the home or in the store.

ECO-FRIENDLINESS

CB2: Soy-based upholstery foam, sustainable hardwoods.

Ikea: Works with Global Forest Watch for sustainable resources, flat-packed goods for efficient distribution, CFL bulb recycling .

West Elm: Textiles, recycled glassware and a side table labeled "West Elm Green," which are responsibly produced, certified organic, recycled or nontoxic.

A GREAT PLACE TO FIND ...

CB2: Occasional tables, lighting, desks.

Ikea: Storage solutions, kitchens, inexpensive fabrics.

West Elm: Accent pillows, bedding, side tables.

Cool accessory

CB2: Wembley molten metal candleholder ($70).

Ikea: Stainless steel bowl/platter with flower petal design ($20).

West Elm: Papier mâchè antlers ($19 and $29).

WHY THEY'RE HERE

CB2: High sales from the catalog and website, especially from Minneapolis residents, Calle said.

Ikea: Lots of Scandinavians here (Ikea is based in Sweden), and lots of Twin Cities customers who were traveling to Schaumberg, Ill., to shop, Nelson said.

West Elm: Our strong design and art community, Jacobs said.

NUMBER OF U.S. STORES

CB2: 11, including Calhoun Square (W. 31st Street and Hennepin Avenue S., Mpls., 612-821-9303, www.cb2.com).

Ikea: 39, including north of Mall of America (Bloomington, 952-858-8088, www.ikea.com).

West Elm: 37, including Shops at Centennial Lakes (Gallagher Drive and France Avenue S., Edina, 952-835-8332, www.westelm.com).

OUR TAKE

CB2: The furniture looks great but is not always comfortable.

Ikea: Love the low prices but not the short product life span.

West Elm: Grab an item before it's gone. Stock rotates almost too quickly.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633 or jewoldt@startribune.com. If you spot a deal, share it at www.startribune.com/dealspotter.

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