Industry Views - July 2011

America Embaces Design

“America Embraces Design...Finally” was a seminar held in May during Surtex, the GLM-managed trade show for selling and licensing original art and design, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Following are some key quotes from the panelists that present insights into the important role that design plays in the creation of successful products today.

* Have U.S. consumers embraced design?
“Because of the media—cable tv home decorating shows, for example—consumers are more aware of design. They are talking about it more. However, it doesn’t mean it’s good design.”—Rich Roman, president and ceo, Revman International

“Americans have been sponges for design. There’s an innovation, then a breakthrough. People are aware of color and want an environment that feels good and that invites good design.”—Lynn Shanahan, C2 Group and acting president, Merimekko North America

* Is great design more prevalent in surfaces?
“There is a trend towards prints, and computer-driven design changes the way of doing things. Details can’t be done by hand, so we have to use decals. But it’s nice to see design driving manufacturing in which something is designed and you have to figure out how to make it happen, instead of the process of how it’s done being an afterthought.”—Tom Mirabile, senior vice-president, Global Trend Design Lifetime Brands, Inc.

“Surface design is about adding value to a product.”—Dan Rubinstein, editor-in-chief, Surface magazine

“Successful companies think about how design affects the consumer.”—Lynn Shanahan

* Can there be too much focus on design?
“You can fall so in love with an aesthetic and be so insular that you don’t see that the public is not ready for it. The middleman is the retail buyer, who has a finger on the pulse of what the consumer is ready for. So there is an auditor between us (the designers) and the consumer.”—Tom Mirabile

* What do you do for inspiration?
“It’s less about where I go than about mindset, keeping an open mind. Be enthusiastic about whatever you do and see, absorb information constantly and maintain an enthusiasm for the product.”— David Bolotsky, president,

“I benefit from going to Madison Square Park [in Manhattan] and listening to people’s conversations—especially their complaints, because that’s how you hear what people need.”—Tom Mirabile

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