Our team often jokes about our affinity for all things home design and decor taking over our once fashion-focused shopping tendencies. It's only natural, though, as so many of the most innovative and beautiful design brands have created services, experiences and - of course - products that keep us inspired and frankly make us feel good. We spoke with some of the top marcomms pros in this industry to find out how design brands are pushing the envelope and how consumers can embrace it.
The democratization of design
Design firm Astro Studios launches gaming product
“The term ‘design brand’ has really been democratized,” says Scott Newlin, Senior Vice President, Global Product Design at Herman Miller. Because design has a unique ability to bring brands to life and elevate consumer experiences, design is seen as a foundational component to many businesses. The value design has brought to brands has also given the designer more authority and trust; thus, design has really permeated many more facets of business, breaking down boundaries, removing silos and bringing design-thinking to the fore.”
Design as a lifestyle
Jenni Kayne Ranch | Photo: Angi Welsch
Rebecca Goldberg, co-founder of DADA Goldberg, has helped this boundary-breaking along via client Jenni Kayne’s holistic lifestyle company covering fashion, wellness and living. “Our work began with the Jenni Kayne Ranch, a home designed by the Jenni Kayne interior design team in Santa Ynez, California,” she shares. “We leveraged the house to bring editors and influencers out for private retreats where they could experience this lifestyle in one space in person. In this environment, you can feel the commitment to quality and care that has become synonymous with the brand. To me, this represents the future of retail and living. People want items of substance that are built to last. By creating these 360 environments (a real life metaverse of Jenni Kayne), you can literally feel the difference and walk away changed. Following our work on the Ranch, our practice expanded into fashion and beauty, allowing us to work on building connections around all aspects of the brand.”
Embracing what already exists
212box for Christian Louboutin stores
Ash Antiques and Design, formerly Ash Interiors, incorporated antiques as a pillar of her business, proving you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to innovate. Andrew Joseph, founder of Andrew Joseph PR, shares that, "Finding a lack of diversity in the antique world, as a black female business owner Andrea Harvey the principal thought she would be a trailblazer. Not only does this create a new revenue stream, but it's also smart business to have inventory when the supply chain with furniture and goods is a serious problem. [Similarly], multidisciplinary design firm 212box reinvents their concepts and designs for different types of use. "Their commitment to storytelling has given them the opportunity to work on other mystery projects that ultimately have end products of short stories, books and soon to be a feature length film."
Karen Asprea Studio
Design and fashion are complementary industries, which makes this a perfect space for brands of all kinds to get creative. Case in point: “the collaboration between Armando Cabral, a designer at Mercado in Manhattan (you’ll know him as a prominent global fashion model now turned designer-activist) and artist Willie Cole,” says Courtney Lukitsch, founder of Gotham PR. “The collab is a perfect alignment of creatives toward a shared goal of raising awareness through high quality design, in this case with mens Italian handmade shoes. There’s also a collaboration between Karen Asprea Studio and Italian brand Henge in the Miami Solesdi showroom, which shows how boutique design has global implications, starting with the ideation of one product and installation into home design and amplifying it into larger scale residential development at luxury apartments.”
Byron Cordero, founder of Cordero Consulting, points out that organizations of all kinds are finding meaningful ways to be part of the design world. “Surface Magazine has opened a new gallery here in the Miami Design District, Surface Area, and it's a perfect example of a media company launching a physical space to enhance their platform and offer products, make sales, etc.”
In-person retail makes a comeback
Interior Define Seattle
Not only are IRL experiences important for brands branching out, but it's proving to be important for shoppers, too. “Our client, Interior Define, launched as a direct-to-consumer brand and is now embarking on a significant brick-and-mortar retail expansion, opening stores, known as Define Studios, across the US,” says Lauren Urband, founder and president of The Consultancy PR. “This shift is in response to consumers’ desire to test the product in person – a significant factor in the purchasing journey within the furniture industry. Additionally, the brand’s in-house “Design Experts” offer design services, mood boards, etc., as an additional benefit to the in-store shopping experience.”
Designing across industries
Today's designers don't need to have started out – or stay in – interiors to become mainstays in the industry. Take Studio Ange, for example, which was founded in Paris by Designer Marc Ange. "Consistent with Marc Ange's background in car design, the Studio launched with a first chapter dedicated to the design of vehicles before expanding into the wide range of specialties available today," says Hanane El Moutii, founder and creative director of Éclat Public Relations. "Over the years, international brands like Louis Vuitton, Orient Express, Moët & Chandon and Peugeot have entrusted Studio with the creation of their products, vehicles and spaces. In 2013, French brand Jean-Paul Gaultier invited Studio Ange to participate in a design competition to create their new perfume bottle. This first foray into the world of perfumery marked the beginning of the long journey that led the Studio to become one of the most prolific agencies in the luxury product design space. Henceforth, Studio Ange expanded to the design of extraordinary furniture pieces. The most recognized is the IL PAVONE - VISIONNAIRE peacock chair. Studio Ange has branched out even further, accepting architectural projects such as Cafe Boulud by Daniel Boulud in Beverly Hills and artful private residences."
Designing the metaverse
Web3 offers opportunities for designers and brands to reach a range of audiences and have both new and existing clients see them in a modern light. Erik Perez, Hello PR Group principal, uses Turkish home furnishings brand Lazzoni as a case study. “We were working with them earlier this year, and over time they have been doing more interior design projects, and they also launched a virtual interior design for the metaverse.”
Balancing between products and services
"Another trend: product brands offering services, and vice-versa. “Wovn Home, a direct to designer/consumer window treatments company offers installation to their designer customers as part of their high touch service,” shares Laura Bindloss, founder of NYLON Consulting. “Typically designers have their own installers, but founder Davina Ogilvie found that offering this option became crucial as part of a high end brand – the service was a key component.”
"We’re also seeing designers move more into the space of tastemakers who are creating products with brands – Jennifer Hunter is a client of ours who is in talks with a number of product brands to do both licensing (designing product for them) and content partnerships - curating their products and merchandising it in a way that works from her point of view".