Our Story

West Elm was founded in 2002 with a simple goal – to offer high-quality, affordable home furnishings and decor to help people express their personal styles at home. We believe that your home is an extension of who you are, and that the items you choose to fill it should not only be beautiful, but should tell the story of your journey through life.

Over the past 20 years, we have worked tirelessly to curate a collection of products that captures the spirit of modern, conscious living. We travel the world to find handcrafted items made ethically and sustainably by artisans who put care into their craft. You’ll also find our own in-house designed pieces that reflect natural textures and global patterns in rich materials and muted color palettes inspired by nature.

Our company started small – with just six stores in the Western United States. But as word spread about ourcommitment to quality, responsibility, and style, we experienced rapid growth. Today, West Elm operates over 100 retail stores across the United States and Canada, along with an e-commerce site that ships products worldwide.

Even as we have grown, we remain passionate about our founding ideals. We believe conscious design and ethical production practices are not just fads, but the future of home furnishing. And we backup that belief by partnering with makers and suppliers who share our values around sustainability and human welfare.

At West Elm, it’s not only about making products for your home. It’s also about enriching artisan communities near and far. And creating quality items built to last through everyday life that also honor our shared home – this planet.

Our Values

Original, modern design. We believe that a conscious home balances utility with beauty. Our products feature clean lines, natural textures, and handcrafted elements – marrying function and visual intrigue in a distinctly modern style. We partner with independent designers across the globe to produce pieces that feel at once fresh and timeless.

Commitment to quality. Our products are crafted from durable natural materials by expert makers around the world. We meticulously vet suppliers based on quality benchmarks to ensure that each item is made to last through everyday use. Pieces undergo rigorous testing so that you can trust them to stand the test of time.

Ethical, sustainable production. From the materials we use to the ways our products are made, we aim to lessen our environmental impact across the entire supply chain. We partner with makers and suppliers who share our commitment to ethical business practices. This includes safe working conditions, living wages, sustainable resource usage, and supporting local economies.

Accessible design. High-end style at affordable prices has been a pillar of our brand since day one. We are passionate about making original, consciously made products available to all. Our direct relationships with artisans allows us to offer furniture, bedding, decor, and kitchenware that feels special without busting your budget.

Inspired by community. Our collections reflect not just our internal design team’s creative vision, but also the diverse places and cultures that inspire us. We translate beautiful elements discovered on our travels into pieces that celebrate craft, culture, and connection to nature and people. Our community also inspires us in designing multifunctional pieces fit for real-life, everyday use.

Our Design Philosophy

Artisan-made, in small batches. To ensure consistent quality and support smaller skilled workshops producing responsibly, we focus on small batch production. Pieces are expertly handcrafted in workshops averaging around a dozen makers. These artisans imbue each item with their personal pride and care. By working directly with creative communities globally, we’re able to offer authentic, one-of-a-kind finds.

Globally conscious. We believe that a modern, mindful lifestyle balances style with responsibility to people and planet. That’s why we partner with makers around the world who utilize local resources and ancestral techniques, empower their workers, and give back to communities. These global relationships allow us to offer pieces with authentic craft storytelling while promoting ethical production models.

Nature as muse. Organic shapes and earthy textures are signatures of our design aesthetic. We draw heavy inspiration from natural materials like wood, stone, clay, rattan, iron and textiles like cotton, wool, linen and leather interpreted in contemporary yet timeless silhouettes. These raw, tactile materials and soothing neutral color palettes create an inviting, serene atmosphere.

Casual elegance. Our products marry relaxed forms with refined details so they work in both formal and casual settings. Clean profiles mix seamlessly with rustic textures in pieces ranging from upholstered sofas to ceramic tableware. We believe a modern lifestyle finds beauty in functional simplicity. Our multifunctional, transitional furniture and decor adapt to a range of spaces and occasions.

Small space, smartly designed. For urban apartments, multifunctional furnishing is key. We keep scale and modularity top of mind, designing furnishings and organization systems specifically with compact homes in mind. Think nesting tables, convertible sofas, and storage beds. Space-conscious products still feel special thanks to thoughtful design touches.

Meet the Artisans

We think it’s important for you to know the talented artisans that put care into crafting our products. So we travel the world, establishing long-term partnerships with small-scale ethical makers, seeking out their specialized skills and personal stories.

Saha Studio – Handwoven Throws (India)

We discovered Saha Studio high in the mountains of India’s Himalayan Kashmir region. In this small village, they have been perfecting handloom techniques passed down over generations. A women-led collective, they expertly spin sheep’s wool, then hand weave it on wooden looms inside their homes. Their beautiful throws feature vibrant colors and patterns native to the region. We are proud to share their heirloom-quality work with our customers.

Miguel Ardura – Ceramics (Spain)

Hailing from a family of potters in Central Spain, Miguel carries on tradition while also putting his modern creative spin on classic earthenware. Using local terracotta clay, he hand throws and hand glazes entirely on his own in a small studio powered by solar energy. His organic, sculptural vessels evoke the natural magic, culture and soul of Spain. We value Miguel’s commitment to sustained heritage and environmental practices.

Marcella Fellini- Furniture (Italy)

Marcella learned woodworking under her father and grandfather who owned a small furniture shop outside Florence, Italy for over 75 years. Carrying their legacy forward, she founded her own women-led studio focused on hand crafting collections primarily from responsibly harvested local woods. With both Old World technique and contemporary Italian style, her pieces from dining tables to upholstered beds feel at once modern and timeless.

Hamama Brothers – Stonework (Egypt)

Based in a workshop in Cairo, twin brothers Karim and Khalil Hamama were born into a long lineage of Egyptian stonemasons. They utilize ancestral techniques like hand chiseling granite that is ethically resourced from local quarries. Inspired by ancient Egyptian architecture and art, their stone tables, platters and decor bear intricate geo-patterned etchings. We love working with Karim and Khalil to support sustained tradition and local enterprise.

How We Produce Responsibly

At West Elm, how we make our products is just as important as what we make. From materials sourcing to ethical labor practices, we partner with suppliers around the world who share our commitment to conscious design and production.

Crafting Sustainably

From toss pillows to tabletop ceramics, our products are crafted from natural, renewable, recycled and recyclable materials that have been ethically sourced. The bulk of our furniture contains sustainably harvested FSC®-certified wood, water-based finishes and CertiPUR-US® foams. Our cotton bedding and bath textiles utilize organic cotton or TENCELTM Lyocell fibers derived from fast-growing eucalyptus. And our handwoven wool throws support small artisan studios.

Investing in People

We believe every person has a right to safe, supportive working conditions and fair living wages. We thoroughly vet partners, visiting workshops frequently to ensure maker welfare and wellbeing. Over 75% of factories have achieved a United Nations Global Compact rating for upholding ethical practices. And 15% of our supply chain by purchase volume has achieved B-Corp status for positive social impact.

Preserving Traditions

Keeping artisanal craft alive sustains communities and reduces environmental impact. We partner with small-scale ethical workshops providing stable incomes to expert makers utilizing local materials and ancestral techniques perfected over generations. Whether hand thrown ceramics in Portugal or hand woven textiles from collectives of female weavers across India, each regional art form has an important place in culture and livelihoods.

Investing Locally

Over 60% of our products support underserved artisan communities. Producing locally not only sustains traditional craft, but also reduces the environmental impact of overseas shipping. Items travel shorter distances from maker workshop to customer. Some workshops have invested their wages into community resources like clean water access, healthcare clinics, schools and advanced skills training for workers.

Corporate Responsibility

As our business has grown, so has our potential for effecting positive change through ethical, sustainable corporate practices. While we have more work to do, we are proud of steps made toward building a more just, conscious company over the past 20 years.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

West Elm believes that diversity fuels innovation and strengthens company culture. Across corporate positions and retail staff, we hire employees from an array of backgrounds and experiences. Over 65% of our support center identifies as female and over 50% as non-white ethnic minorities. We offer employees extensive DEI training programs, leadership development opportunities, mentorships and dedicated community building initiatives including our employee resource groups.

Climate Action

As a conscientious company, we utilize the power of business to enact environmental change. We have measured and reduced emissions across operations and offsets remaining carbon usage annually supporting renewable energy projects in our supply chain origin communities. Our efforts have led to 17% lower emissions annually and UN Climate Neutral certification. We also adhere to strict restricted substance protocols ensuring safe, non-toxic materials.

Corporate & Retail Sustainability

At our distribution centers and corporate offices, we recycle over 80% of waste, utilize recycled packaging materials and energy-efficient equipment and fixtures. Our retail spaces also aim for sustainability with LED lighting, plant-based window branding, recycled display materials and donation programs for furniture from staged model rooms. To reduce our brick and mortar footprint, select locations also offer customers virtual design consultations.

Community Building

Through community support grants, we have donated over $5 million to global and domestic nonprofit partners dedicated to social, economic and environmental missions – from climate justice to fair trade development. Domestically our stores have participated in over 500 community volunteer days assisting organizations focused on youth development, housing insecurity, food access and LGBTQ+ inclusivity amongst other social welfare causes.

Looking to the Future

While proud of achievements thus far, we recognize there is always more work to do towards running an ethical business and reducing environmental impact. As we look ahead, some of our key priorities include:

Continuing education: Connecting with thought leaders, sustainability experts, researchers, certifying agencies and non-governmental organizations ensures we have access to cutting edge insights to inform our strategy and push innovation in ethical practice standards.

Design for circularity: We aim to incorporate more recyclable, recycled, removable and replaceable components into product design to keep materials in use longer. Adding clarity around end of life disassembly also empowers sustainable disposal.

Advanced impact tracking: We will continue strengthening data capture mechanisms across our supply chain to closely monitor for potential risks and access detailed reporting around positive community contributions. This allows us to set targeted impact goals, redirect efforts strategically and communicate progress.

Evolving our model: As capabilities advance in areas like renewable energy, regenerative agriculture and responsible technology, we will continue assessing our entire value chain for areas ripe for transformation that create shared value for business and society.

We invite you, our community, to continue holding us accountable and pushing us toward increasingly conscious conduct in all facets of operations. It is our sincere hope that the products filling your most meaningful spaces reflect care for both people and planet while helping you celebrate life at home. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, input or ideas on our collective journey.