March 1, 2013
Featured designer: Ted Boerner
New York, NY | http://www.tedboerner.com/
New York Design Center’s annual “What’s New What’s Next?” is a wonderful gathering. Lots of designers and magazine people create a great buzz in the building and the showrooms feature new products and host interesting speakers. I met Ted Boerner at this event a few years ago when he was speaking in his eponymous showroom about his creative process. It was a visually imaginative presentation with shots from around the world, enhanced with idea and development sketches of new product and collections. Ted was engaging and charming and a delight to his rapt audience. He has a dedicated showroom in NYC (also represented in multi-line showrooms in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Vancouver and Toronto) and his product has a simple, earthy elegance and comfort that I trust you will enjoy. Thanks, Ted for being part of the Designer Series!
1. What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last 5 years?
Designers and End-Users have so many good choices available to them these days, with the proliferation of design websites and the expanding of good design from a wide range of sources, they do not need to be loyal to or rely upon the designer to-the-trade showrooms the way that they used to. To-the-Trade showrooms are just one of many sources now and we must find new ways to remain relevant. Hi end is mixed with retail not just for price but for availability and design. Quality is the only thing that can vary greatly. Designers must use their judgement to discern what is appropriate.
From a design perspective I have noticed increased interest in our more contemporary/modern pieces. This could be a younger clientele but it also could be that older clients that might have sought a more traditional or transitional aesthetic and are now wanting a fresh contemporary look to reflect the times and feel connected to them.
2. What have you done in your business to respond to those changes – and how is that working for you?
I have always believed in the value of original design and importance of the design process when it comes to making a piece unique for a specific situation. The story behind the design, from the inception of the idea to the making of the piece is something that continues to be meaningful so, today it is essential that we convey those stories to draw the distinction between what we offer and what is available from retail sources. The attention to the relationships we engage in is also an important aspect to convey to our clients and their clients. We endeavor to provide creative and specific design solutions that are appropriate for a project and that can only come from the interaction between the designer and the source of the design. We look for ways to engage more and more directly whenever possible. If we can help the interior designer manifest their vision by collaborating with them in the process then we have a better chance of contributing to a successful project with happy clients and…the interior designer and their clients have the opportunity to work directly with product designers and artisans. This kind of service experience is invaluable and gratifying and it seems to be working. It’s about conveying the message of engagement in the process that is important here. I think its also more important than ever to have as much transparency as appropriate. There are no secrets and information is valuable.
Our 8 week program to offer certain standard products with a shorter lead time has also proven an important motivator…not a huge difference but one that adds to the attractiveness of our product.
It does all come down to the design in the end. We must also keep creating new designs to offer our clients so they have new things to show their clients…and at the same time refresh our reliable classics to respond to today’s needs. We’d done this with a number of products, in particular offering our Classic Skoop Chair with a more modern swivel base…wildly successful. People think it’s a new piece.
3. What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry – and how can designers prepare for that?
Interior designers most important offering is their ability to compose and deliver a vision…no matter where they are getting the products. The retail sources will try to blur the lines between what they offer and what we offer. The designer must know the difference in order to make informed choices about where they get goods and to discern what level of quality is needed. It is their job to convey this distinction to their clients and it is is ours to support the designers in ways that retailers cannot. High-end, made to order design will always be relevant and coveted but the context that surrounds it is changing. There is the illusion of luxury and quality that can be attractive and compelling. We must aim higher and keep our standards of quality in order to make our place in the industry distinctive and desirable.
Here’s to a creative 2013,