Predetermined Solutions

With the coming of spring we can expect a few constants – daffodils, lawn mower noise and new spring catalog from Crate & Barrel that looks a lot like last year and the yearcb01sm1 before. As one of the country’s premier lifestyle retailers, they have mastered the concept of predetermined solutions: if we didn’t sell it to you last year we simply recycle the palette with perhaps some small modifications of style and present it again as new and trendy.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe C&B is one of the best at inspiring customers with effective visual marketing and a fill-in-the-blanks approach. But lifestyle5smwhen do we move from room-in-a-box to a more open and eclectic approach that reflects a modern reality, in particular a response to the tastes of the modern African-American consumer?

Can you image the expectation and joy of receiving a catalog that projected a sense of “organized eclecticism” that would focus on the inspirational needs and wants of the African- American consumer and others who appreciate the uniqueness and richness of the culture? I can.

Sadly this won’t happen with idle coffee-and-donuts conversations about the “opportunities” in the market. Good, bad or indifferent there is an existing process in the design, lifestyle3smlicensing and manufacturing of home furnishings. From my point of view that will not change in the short term.

In an effort to discover more efficient and profitable approaches for interior and product designers to bring their designs to market, we have formed ethnicitiSTYLE. We arelifestyle2sm collaboration of professional designers formed to pool our energies and resources to create African-American home fashion collections that will be developed and licensed to mainstream manufactures and distributors. Our goal is to create new lines of home fashion developed, designed, and managed by African Americans.

It is time. Let me know what you are thinking.

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