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Oakland's SOBU keeps furniture, décor designs clean and innovative

By Kelly Church

Dedicated to offering "cleaner, sweeter, warmer" furniture and décor with a better design quality, SOBU is an Oakland, CA company owned by husband and wife duo Laleh and Alessandro Latini. Their business was born from their desire to start a company that combined Laleh's graphic design, photography and marketing background with Alessandro's furniture design, sourcing and architecture expertise. Their first design, a bed frame with added storage, led to a full collection of SOBU designs and the opening of their Bay Area storefront. The couple strives to combine innovative designs with high-quality materials and beautiful aesthetics.

"It's so easy to be inspired these days," Laleh said. "You really don't need to even leave your computer, right? Inspiration [is] at every corner online, if you know where to look. But that said, I think it's so important to actually get out of the house, into nature, talk with people?to live in a vacuum void of human and outside contact is really, in my opinion, to shrivel up and die creatively."

>p?Laleh says one of their most popular pieces, and one of her favorites, is the reclaimed teak rocker. At just under $600, the modern rocker is sleek and simple, with a gently curved seat for easy rocking. It's made of reclaimed teak wood and a black steel base. Laleh calls it "modern, warm, unique, classic, sustainable and functional."

"The last thing we want to do as a company, as two individuals, as two parents, is add to the crazy amount of garbage and waste Americans produce each year," Laleh said. "Yes, we recognize that it's nice to buy a new side table or couch, but how about we produce ones that use reclaimed materials if possible and are built to last many, many years? We never use veneers or toxic finishes. If we wouldn't buy it for our family, we won't be selling it in our shop."

One unique piece that SOBU offers is the immortal tree, a Christmas tree that forgoes the leafy branches for structured cedar branches that can hang many ornaments. The tree can be kept year after year, and Laleh said it often becomes part of the family and the Christmas tradition. The cedar branches are fragrant and also accommodate a tree-topper. It's offered as both four-foot and five-foot trees.

"Alessandro came up with the design a couple of years ago after we became very aware suddenly and very tired of buying a new tree every year only to dump it very unceremoniously on the curb over and over again," Laleh said. "Our tree folds up very compactly for easy storage and it can be decorated in so many different ways. It's a tree for life and you can hand it down to your kids."

SOBU designs can be purchased on their website, sobusobu.com, or visiting the Oakland storefront.

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