1976: Never Say Die - futon journey begins
By the 1976 Christmas season Massey, ever the determined entrepreneur, was back again with a new edition of his three-quarter inch slat, sling back chairs and tables. "Everything was KD (knock-down), all put together with carriage bolts, hanger bolts and acorn nuts. At that particular time I didn't have a retail store but I was selling to several small retailers as well as Import Bazaar, a Canadian "Pier 1" type store," he said.
The following year was a time of major transition and growth for Massey's business. It was also the year he began to create seating products for futons with the 2.5" X .75", and 1.25" X 1.25" dimensioned maple lumber which would show up again in his T.H.I.S. futon frame of 1984.
"By the winter of 1977 my company was situated in the buildings of a former auto dealer. The showroom was our retail space and the garage was our production area. That Christmas (1976) we showed our products at the Handicrafts Show in Montréal. I reconnected with Hershey Siegal, the owner of Le Chateau, a clothing store I'd worked in years before, and he made a retail space available right next to his flagship store on St. Catherine street in Montréal. This became the first of five Environmenthe furniture and accessory stores we opened between 1977 and 1983," said Massey.
It was during this time (winter 1978) that Diane Bisaire, of Simply Cotton, asked Massey to create a futon frame. He responded with a futon frame that looked like a stationary, early version of the T.H.I.S. convertible futon frame of 1984. Massey also developed a futon lounger he called the Shibumi. The back rest, seat and footrest were all connected and were adjustable with a piece of sisal rope. The ends of the rope had a wooden block attached to them and this block, when fitted at different points between the slats, stopped the futon frame from collapsing and thereby allowed it to recline in several different positions. This futon frame was also part of the evolution towards the Shibumi II, which was renamed the T.H.I.S. in 1984. It was also at this time that Massey opened a retailfuton store in Manhattan, and where he came into contact with futon pioneers Shinera. "We never did connect or do any business," he said.
Things went very well for several years on the business end, but personally things were not as good. By 1983, once again, Massey was out of business and back to square one in Montréal. Fortunately our story doesn't end here.
1984: Focus on Futons
"In June of 1984 I met my wife Dianna," he said. He also had been working on a wide (75") version of the narrower reclining futon frame he had dubbed Shibumi 1 back in 1982. This new futon frame, the Shibumi 2, became the booth furniture for the showroom of the company Massey was working with at the time, Bois Franc Royale, at the K-Design show in New York in September of 1984. The Shibumi 2 utilized a 7/8" dowel pin to lock the futon frame into both the seating and sleeping positions. This mechanism was the first simple bi-fold futon mechanism, and was the catalyst for most of the other early designs that followed.
"This show was a defining point in my futon career," says Massey, "The Shibumi 2 idea was seen and sold to futon pioneers Pranji Lodhia, of Shamiana, on the West Coast and Randy Young, of New Moon, on the East Coast. Bob Fireman and Tara Pearl were there looking at these futon frames too." The futon frames were being made by Bois Franc Royale at the time, but the ultimate producer of the frame became National Woodcraft of Montréal. "I decided to ask Ted Goldman, whom I had met and worked with on several projects over the years, to come with me to High Point in October of '84. I wanted him to meet Michael and Randy Young of New Moon who were showing my futon frame. They got an exclusive territory for the products. At that time I had named the frame the Aparté which means 'an aside.' Randy didn't like the name so I told her to call it "THIS" futon frame not THAT frame. Hence T.H.I.S.," he said.
1985 was show time. "We went to the Spring High Point show, the Summer San Francisco show, and the Dallas show," said Massey. Futons were flying everywhere. "It was during this time that I designed the Dovefuton frame," he said. The T.H.I.S. futon was good. The Dove was great. In fact the Dove futon frame graced the cover of the Futon Life (Volume 2 Number 1) in the Spring of 1990. "At the Dallas show in the summer of 1985, Paula Sonner, now of Castle Bay, said I should try to design something that didn't look so much like a fence. In about five minutes I came up with about ninety-five percent of the details for what would become the Dovefuton frame," Massey said.