The right products to market: Q&A with Innovation Director
The workplace is constantly evolving.
From technology, psychology, and demography, to fashion and politics, there are many factors that influence the direction of work and the environments where that work occurs.
We’re focused on designing, developing and sourcing products at the forefront of global design trends. So the challenge for us here at Crestline is to stay abreast of all these influences and figure out what that means for furniture. And the man responsible for ensuring we do this is our Product Innovation Director, Dean Renton.
Here’s what he has to say on the subject…
Q: Your favourite show so far this year and why?
Definitely Milan. The scale of the event is breathtaking, with more than 2,000 exhibitors ranging from renowned architecture studios to upcoming designers debuting their creations for the very first time. This year the event incorporated the bi-annual Workplace3.0. showcasing some thought-provoking and forward-thinking ideas on workspaces and ways of working.
Aside from Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the other highlight was the Interzum trade fair in Germany. Regarded as the world’s leading trade fair of the manufacturing industry, Interzum focuses on the elemental area of design and manufacture, with innovative materials and components providing inspiration in our quest for continuous improvement.
Q: What are the trends you have spotted so far this year?
I noticed in Milan a trend towards a more organic feel this year. Many products and stand designs incorporated soft curves and rounder forms. A number of installations utilised billowing fabrics and other forms of semi-transparent dividers to provide space delineation while giving an open, inviting feel. Designers are continuing to blend residential and commercial aesthetics (resimercial).
Environmental awareness is also inspiring designers to rethink the lifecycle of products, with ‘circular’ design working to leave no waste throughout the process of a product’s creation and use.
In terms of colour, we’ve noticed a nice blending of bolder richer tones with softer, more muted pastel palettes.
Practical developments include an increasing use of matt ‘finger free’ panel finishes which provide a pleasant texture and soft touch, low light reflectivity, and of particular benefit in dark colours – anti-fingerprint properties.
Greenery continues to play a big role in spaces. The benefits of incorporating nature into day to everything from floral arrangements to large scale trees.
Also evidenced was the importance of good lighting and feature lighting in making spaces welcoming and pleasant.
Q: What are the broad steps you go through when you bring a new product to market?
Well, first up we think about the problems we want to solve, or needs we want to meet with a product. How we can help people work more effectively. What gaps we have in our product portfolio, what requests we’ve had from customers, what the latest research is telling us. All of these things come into play.
Then if we’re excited about the potential of a product our due diligence includes quality, manufacturability, sustainability, price, stockholding requirements, manufacturing lead times, warranty, supplier reliability, relevant certifications, and all those important gatekeepers.
Another consideration is whether the design is different and elegant enough to be a stand–out amongst other similar products now and for years to come. Ultimately it must provide value and quality for the end user.
And relationships are really important to us too. We work in partnership with all our suppliers so it’s important that our values align and we can forge good long term working relationships. The value of this is shown in the fact that some of our key suppliers are the very same ones that we began working with over 30 years ago.
By direct importing to supplement our extensive range of New Zealand made products, our aim is to provide well designed, technically superior products at price points within the reach of every progressive New Zealand business.
Q: Can you give us any hints about the next great Crestline product?
Of course…but to use the line from Sherlock Holmes “The Hounds of Baskervilles” – I’d love to tell you, but then, of course, I’d have to kill you!
What I can tell you is we have some exciting new products being added to our Inclass collection. And we’re busy working on introducing some very cool new work systems. One, in particular, which involves a collaboration with a major European manufacturer and one of the worlds most prominent architecture firms, promises a whole new level of office mobility. We aim to have these new systems ready for release later this year, so watch this space!
We have also just loaded some new products on our website this month. Gustav is an award-winning office toolbox for agile working. Designed for people in flexible work environments, it holds all the work essentials and doubles as a laptop stand.