By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs Coordinator
At the International Home + Housewares Show in March, the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center will present 21 educational programs, every hour beginning Saturday morning and ending Tuesday afternoon. At the Theater, located in Room E350 (near the entry to the Level 3 Lobby), experts in new product development and launch will discuss critical and timely topics in our industry. Over the next months, we’ll introduce you to the presenters with a series of blog stories. Be sure to mark your calendars for these exciting programs! Check www.housewares.org regularly for updates on the schedule of Show events.
The American Living Survey™: Kitchen Design Trends
Sunday, March 3 10:30 – 11:20 am
Richard Babick is President of Design Research, the only research company that specializes in market research in design-intensive categories such as tableware, housewares and home furnishings. Design Research is unique in occupying the space where research and design come together. In addition to providing all types of qualitative and quantitative consumer research, Design Research also studies design trends quantitatively. This enables them to provide clients with the benefit of a vast store of design trends data for use in new product and other research. Design Research has applied its expertise for clients in all segments of the International Home + Housewares Show. Richard founded Design Research 14 years ago after spending 16 years as Corporate Director of Research at Lenox, Inc.
Richard, what inspires your passion in your work?
We are driven by a passion for home products, especially products where design is a key factor. We are driven by communicating with and knowing the American consumer. We speak with a lot of consumers every year in a variety of ways. You only know the consumer when you speak with her directly. We are driven by the satisfaction that comes from seeing our clients’ success when products we help to develop soar to the tops of their markets and become category giants, sometimes for a decade or more.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
We are and always have been intimately involved in understanding and tracking the home furnishings, home décor and housewares industries. This Show is the best show in the housewares category.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
2013 is the first year of a new information resource we are offering to our clients and friends at no cost. The program is called The American Living Survey™. It is the first and only quantitative research that is tracking national design trends empirically. We will be presenting the highlights of the study as they pertain to kitchen and housewares design trends. We will show what American kitchens look like today, how Americans feel about their kitchens, what “mood” consumers are looking for in their kitchens and what colors and styles are most prevalent.
You’ve presented in the Innovation Theater before. What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
We’ve spoken a number of times over the years and we’ve always enjoyed an appreciative audience. I personally enjoy the questions and comments we get after the presentations. We have made many good friends in the industry in this way.
How does the Innovation Theater help you spread your message?
It’s a great showcase to speak in, especially now it has been moved it off the Show floor and into a theatre setting.
What kind of impact can the speakers of the Innovation Theater make at the Show?
Good strategic decisions can only come from good information. We will be sharing up-to-the-minute statistics on trends in kitchen and home design. That is the kind of information on which manufacturers should be basing their decisions. We believe that savvy designers and marketers will appreciate the value of and make good use of the information we are sharing.
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
Consumers have many concerns. One that we hear often is lack of space. There are many great products in the market and consumers may want them, but homes are being downsized and more people are living alone in smaller places that preclude purchasing certain products. We believe there are opportunities for manufacturers to downsize products to address changing home and kitchen sizes as well as changing household compositions.
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals face in the housewares market?
The biggest challenge designers and developers face is figuring out which of the many trends resources relate to their business. There are many varied sources of information in the market today and companies have to realize that they can’t rely on all of them. That is the reason why our data and our approach to trends work is entirely empirical – based on sound, replicable, transparent research methodology customized to the individual client’s needs rather than simply generalized expert opinion or judgment.
What is the best advice you could give someone trying to get into your area of expertise?
Our work crosses disciplines and so we seek curious people with multi-faceted backgrounds. We often chuckle that if we were to run a help-wanted ad it might read “Wanted: interior decorator with strong statistical skills” or perhaps “Experienced survey researcher with experience and degree in the decorative arts.” Perhaps the best advice we can offer is to simply follow your passions, learn voraciously and don’t be afraid to venture into scary new waters because that is where the best rewards await you.
We thank the IHA for the opportunity to present “The American Living Survey: Kitchen Design Trends” in the Innovation Theater on Sunday March 3, 2013 at 10:30 am. To learn more about Design Research, please visit our website at www.designres.com. Please feel free to call us at (609)896-1108.
Thank you, Richard, for speaking with us today. We expect your program will provide important data and valuable interpretations for audiences working in many product categories. We look forward to seeing you at the Innovation Theater soon!