Friday, September 13, 2013

New Pomeroy Reed Diffuser with Jewelry                                                                                      
Usually when I am working on something new for the collections, size and value typically drive the direction along with fashion considerations of course.  By size and value I’m referring to the price/value ratio that inevitably comes into play when a customer is viewing new items for the first time.  Invariably she will compare price, quality, scale, etc. of other items she is buying, and decide whether she should add one of Pomeroy’s items to her assortment .  Recently, over the course of the last several years, I have been able to inject a fourth consideration into the mix; something I call “the cute factor”.

When shopping for shoes, I’ve noticed invariably that the store will put smaller sizes on display.  Why? Because the smaller features are irresistible and the larger a shoe becomes in size,  the less attractive.  The same phenomenon happens when I am working on a new drawing.  My normal procedure is to do a tiny sketch in the upper right hand corner of my drawing pad until I like whats going on and then enlarge it below.  Well, even these “enlarged” drawings on the pad might still be one quarter or even one tenth of the size of the final item; so when the sample is actually made it often needs revisions because the increased scale of the item changes its perception drastically, meaning that if it is a wrought iron piece, what looked well proportioned small, may suddenly look like an oddly shaped alien that only an artist like Gieger could appreciate (The Swiss artist that created the original Alien for the movie).  Small scale allows the opportunity to create something “cute”. “Cuteness” on its own is sufficient to make something highly salable.  Some years ago I began adding jewelry to various fragrance diffusers and lighting trays.  Adding jewelry has added a new dimension to this category while increasing the perceived value and at the same time allowed us to migrate to a collection which included very feminine and “cute” looks. 

Shipping is such a large cost component in any new development these days, that the mere thought of a collection of “small”, cute, decorative, and functional items for the home was exhilarating for me. Not only did these shiny “bejeweled” reed diffusers bring a fun new direction in design possibilities but they allowed us to expand on the concept of value; that is, if we are able to save on freight then we could add components to the item to create more value. After all, the customer will still expect the item to compare appropriately (cost to value) to other items of a similar function or size when considering whether or not to add it their assortment. 

The next step in evolution of scale is to take this concept of something cute and translate it to a larger items.  This is comparable to watching your small princess grow up to be a young elegant lady.  (I have one of those in my house, and witnessed this transformation for myself over the past 20 years).  As with children this is easier said than done.  Sometimes the raw material does not cooperate; or indeed is simply not appropriate to enlarge and maintain  its integrity.  Jewelry for instance can be enlarged to a point, but beyond a certain size simply becomes a weapon and no longer cute.  Sometimes the reverse is true.  Rattan for instance needs objects of a certain size, otherwise the material simply cannot be used as it too course and cumbersome to work into small shapes. 

When increasing the size of my  original thumbnail sized sketch, it becomes of paramount importance to increase detail and reconsider the size and scale of that detail; because what was just a small distance in between embellishments or design elements is now a sahara desert-sized wasteland, or worse yet the design details that looked so “cute” small, have now become mechanical creatures from a movie like “Transformers”.  And sometimes the very concept itself becomes unworkable and must be scrapped altogether.

The bottom line for me, as a designer, is to remember what looks good small does not always work enlarged no matter how much I may want it to.  As design, for me, is an emotional experience, I  must always stay vigilant to the change in moving from a petite, playful, bejeweled princess, to something larger lest she morph into something other than the young, elegant, well mannered young lady I have living in my house.