Denis Milovanov: How former clerks and a carpenter make money from oak furniture

Cabinetmaker and furniture restorer Denis Milovanov left Moscow for Pavlovsky Posad to make unique oak furniture from solid trunks, boiled in oil. Expensive products were found to be in demand in the West, but Milovanov could neither deliver them to the buyer, nor tell Russian potential customers about his project.


Designer Nikolai Reutin and producer Maria Larina became apprentices of Milovanov and took up the promotion and promotion of his project in 2013.

Denis Milovanov studio has already sold a dozen expensive products, closed the project for 1.5 million rubles and received an order from the famous architect Zaha Hadid.


Production of furniture, landscape products and art objects from oak massif


April 2013


Start-up capital

3 million rubles



Workshop Development Director Denis Milovanov


I worked as a producer in an IT company, Kohl - a web designer in online publications. We rented an apartment on Sretenka, received a good salary. Life was beautiful, but there was no passion in it. Thoughts on starting a business were long ago, we both did not want to “move pixels” anymore. Once I came across the Seasons magazine for 2011. In it, I saw a publication about furniture by Denis Milovanov. We really enjoyed his work. We contacted Denis. It turned out that he had long abandoned the production of furniture, which was not in demand among Russian buyers. We invited him to start all over again. Now the three of us.


IKEA is such furniture fast food. Her idea is that things have no value. You bought a table, two years later it broke down - threw it away and bought a new one. The idea of ​​furniture by Denis Milovanov brings us back to the grandmother's chest, which has been handed down from generation to generation. Oak products can be sold twice as expensive after 80 years. This is a profitable investment. For our work we give a century-long guarantee.


Our first investor was a relative of Denis. I was preparing for a meeting with him, as if it were not our acquaintance, but a person who sees me for the first time and who needs to be persuaded to invest in the project. I made a presentation, detailed the concept of the brand, its audience, the main distribution channels, 1, 2 and 3 rounds of investment. As a result, we agreed on financing. From April to the present day, we received from a relative of Denis about 3 million rubles. Another 900,000 rubles were added from personal funds. While all investments, as well as profits, we invest in development. We plan to reach self-sufficiency by the fall of 2014.

Chair number 5

What is the price made up of?

Extraction of suitable oak

Oak delivery to Pavlovsky Posad

Rent (200 m² in Pavlovsky
Posade - 50 000 rubles)


The work of the master


Our furniture products have very low margins and high cost. The production of chair number 5, for example, costs us 30,000 rubles. This includes the cost of extracting a suitable oak for us, and it is expensive to cut a tree would be cheaper. Plus delivery to Pavlovsky Posad, rent (for a room of almost 200 m² in Pavlovsky Posad we pay 50,000 rubles), supplies and our work.

We offer this chair to customers for $ 2,500, with a margin of less than half. Oak is becoming more expensive, we have grown so much that it is time to open our representative office in Moscow. All this will affect the cost of our products: next year we plan to raise the price tag. The most expensive item that we managed to sell is a console for a private interior. The customer bought it for 750,000 rubles. In October, we handed over a huge project worth 1.5 million rubles.


Our furniture is made mainly from trees that have fallen, been damaged or died naturally, we do not cut anything. Not so long ago, mudflow occurred in the North Caucasus. Some trees fell, we tracked them down and brought them to Pavlovsky Posad in our workshop. The first deliveries were accompanied by Denis. He traveled to Kabardino-Balkaria, watched the material, talked with our future supplier. Now the need for this has disappeared. We entrusted tree search and logistics to the supplier. He already knows what we need.

Our reserve channel is Belarus, from where we sometimes order bog oak. Finding the right tree can take a lot of time, so deliveries are not monthly. Over the past six months, we have spent about 30-40 tons of material. It turns out that about five to six tons of oak per month. These are very average numbers. It is clear that in one month we can spend 9 tons, in another - 3. In the future we plan to use other materials: stone, beech.


The technology was not invented by us, it was used in ancient Russia. To make a chair number 5, a height of 57 centimeters, you need to spend three days. About four hours is required to cut the product from the array. Then the chair is boiled in oil in a large design resembling a bath. It is equipped with several thermostats that maintain a certain oil temperature. We used to use unrefined vegetable, now we have replaced it with linen. After digestion, the color is more natural, and the smell becomes more pleasant.

Soaking time in oil depends on the volume of the product. Chair number 5 is "cooked" for about two days. During this time, the tree manages to soak completely. In fact, we replace the water that any wood contains with oil.

Now we are looking for technologies that will make production non-waste. To do this, you need to learn how to compress wooden shavings in a compress. While the output is not as dense material as an array. It can be used not for furniture, but for various accessories made of wood.


Our customers are people who are ready for excesses. We understand that a person who can afford a table for 500,000 rubles is no longer satisfied with IKEA furniture. He wants a status thing for a long time.

When people come to us and ask for a discount, we refuse. If you want to save, then the price difference is necessary for you for something. Maybe you want to buy a car or see a doctor. So do it, and take a look at us later. We only communicate with customers who understand our pricing and the fact that every item in Denis Milovanov’s workshop is unique. Human hands, unlike a machine, cannot cut two absolutely identical objects: the trees from which the furniture is made have a different history, texture.

"Craft 937"

The cost of Denis Milovanov Workshop products starts at $ 2,500. We understand that not many can afford our furniture, but still want to buy something from us. Especially for workshop fans, in late November, we are launching a new project, Craft 937. The cost of products under the "Craft" will vary from 2,000 to 30,000 rubles. We use new materials: beech, acacia, metal, stone. For 30,000 rubles you can buy a small coffee table made of budget wood with a forged base. Accessories, dishes, souvenirs, small utensils for the interior will be even cheaper.

Promotion and collaboration with architects

When Denis worked alone, he almost did not engage in promotion, he only sent photos to a couple of editions. But even that was enough for the first wave of information to rise and eventually lead him to a client from the United States, who himself came to Russia for furniture. When we joined the team, it became obvious to me that there was communication with potential customers, it was simply not completed. First, I scooped up all the letters, answered everything, scheduled and held a bunch of meetings and presentations. Then we began to communicate with the profile and not only the profile press. Our products are quite expensive, so selling them through retail outlets is hardly possible. It became obvious that we need to act through distributors: in our case, these are architects, designers, landscape designers. We correspond with several bureaus, prepare a large catalog and next year we will actively travel with presentations to different studios.

On the offer "Make just sleptto hang it on the wall "we respond refusal. It’s so easy to make a cut that mine can handle it grandmother.
There is no copyright beginning

However, we do not always agree to cooperate with architects. For example, if the sentence “And make us just sleeping so that we hang it on the wall” comes to us, we refuse. There is no copyright in this. Making a cut is so simple that my grandmother can handle it. We can agree to cooperation only if we liked someone’s idea.

In March 2013, we received a letter from an English architectural company with a proposal to create street objects around the mansion of Vladislav Doronin. Googling the name of the project, we were amazed to learn that Zaha Hadid herself oversees the project (in 2004, she became the first woman architect in history to be awarded the Pritzker Prize. - Note H&F) We were introduced to the master plan of the project, told what had already been built and what was just planned, and gave us complete freedom of expression: "Offer what you yourself think is necessary." We sent 16 product sketches, which, in our opinion, fit perfectly into the landscape of Doronin. The other day we went to the facility.


Now we will closely deal with the residence of Doronin. In the future, we hope to enter the integration with ready-made projects. While we are doing everything on order, individually.

The plans include the development of the B2B sector. In the framework of "Craft 937" we can make corporate gifts, dishes for restaurant holdings: spoons, dishes, boards, plates.

We thought about promotion through large furniture stores. But the problem is that the standard margin for retailers in Moscow is somewhere around 300%. We understand that our chair will be bought even for half a million, but the extra charge of 300% at our high cost is barbarism.

We are going to establish work with western customers. About Denis, when he was still working without Kolya and me, many publications appeared on English-language sites. His products were more interested in the inhabitants of Europe than the Russians. To send furniture abroad in our case is quite problematic: it is necessary to collect a lot of certificates allowing the export of wood outside the country.

Text: Regina Ader

Photos: Gleb Leonov for Life around

Watch the video: Oak&Copper #1 Collection by Denis Milovanov & Yaroslav Rassadin (November 2019).

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