By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs Coordinator
Get to know the people behind the stylish, thought-provoking designs that will be exhibited in Discover Design. This series of conversations will give you a glimpse of the inspirations, influences and ideas that go into creating the exciting products that you’ll see at the 2013 Show.
Andrew Erdle grew up on a grape and blueberry farm in upstate New York. He studied at Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, yet also enjoyed spending time in the ceramic studio. He eventually majored in advertising design, graduated in 2007 and took a job as a copywriter at BBDO New York. But then he dove into product design and established Good Erdle in 2012, applying his sense of humor and insight to the design and promotion of his products. The farmland of his youth inspired compact ceramic planters for urban apartments and even a pencil sharpener. His elegant products have captured the attention of design media and major publications such as The New York Times.
We’re speaking with Andrew Erdle, partner and designer at Good Erdle LLC.
Andrew, where do you find inspiration when designing new products?
There are so many well-designed objects already in the world that right now the ideas for our products start with a clear need for something new. In the case of our planters, I had worked in one too many corporate offices that had far too few plants.
Are there any specific designers, places or eras that influence you?
We were fortunate enough to be raised in upstate New York, which has been home to various ceramic factories, the Roycroft movement, Steuben Glass Works, Stickley furniture, etc. My extended family was always into collecting specific goods such as cranberry glass and Fiestaware. I am less influenced by the aesthetics of those periods and pieces than I am by the idea that they were made here and made to last.
How do you choose which idea to take to the next step — to product development?
You literally feel excitement when you look at the idea. Then you look at your available capital. If you’re still excited, then it’s time to get serious.
How do you identify the key user audience for your products?
I’ve spent 5+ years in advertising and marketing agencies in Manhattan, so I’m aware that this is not how it’s suppose to work, but we try to develop products for nice people. We also have a small blueberry farm that does a lot of u-pick business. There is a wide assortment of people who come to pick, but they all value the idea of fresh blueberries. And a person that cares about fresh blueberries is generally a nice person. I don’t know the age, income or geographic area of a customer, but I know they are probably a nice person that cares about good design.
Is there an approach or look that joins the functionality, form or emotional appeal of your product line?
We create products that we personally want. So that thinking ties everything together.
A lot of our products right now are modular. Having lived/worked in so many different size spaces since the recession started, this experience has played into that. As the spaces change, so do the products. It’s also just fun to allow the consumer to be more instrumental in how the product works in their home.
How do you see design’s importance in our industry as it moves forward?
It should be everything. It’s easy to be in business, but it’s easier to be a successful business when design is a priority. It takes a lot of capital and resources to operate outside of good design and that’s the best way to exhaust both.
Where are your products manufactured?
We try to produce every product in the United States. I grew up outside of Buffalo, where we had to drive alongside abandoned steel mills and grain silos. To get downtown you had to drive. You see the impact that sourcing can have on a community. But for every doom and gloom piece you see about American manufacturing, everyone we do business with has an average of 30 years’ experience. It gives us a lot of confidence in their craft and dispels the story that at some point in the 20th century America stopped manufacturing great products.
How does Discover Design help to expand your brand?
This is our first year showing at Discover Design, but we benefited just from attending last year. Our current (Illinois-based) fulfillment center was based off of a tip from a 2012 tradeshow exhibitor. Purchase orders are always important, but we find speaking to other exhibitors is sometimes just as beneficial.
Not to mention the fact that one of our new designers was a winner of IHA’s 2012 student design competition! Patrick Fiori designed the Modular Notch Dish, composed of 10 aluminum rods, that engages the user to assemble a dish or a centerpiece that invites you to play with your food.
What advice can you offer to designers working in the home goods field?
Perhaps in 20 years we’ll have some reliable advice. But what has worked for us so far is having different/non-design related experiences and not being afraid to fail.
Thank you, Andrew, for sharing your passion for design and local manufacturing with us. Your fresh entrepreneurial energy is just what attracts visitors to Discover Design. We look forward to your successful first appearance as an exhibitor in Booth 3978.
Discover Design is the premier design destination at the International Home + Housewares Show. Located in the South Building, within the Dine + Design Expo, the invitation-only category features more than 100 exhibitors from around the world. Companies driven by innovation and inspired by design present distinctive products and collections in Tabletop, Gift, Textiles and Home Décor categories. Exhibitors are selected to participate by a panel of industry experts comprised of retailers, design journalists and peers. Some exhibitors appeared here last year, many are new to our Show. The Discover Design Gallery, accessible to buyers and media, features select products that are entries in the Global Innovation Award (gia) for Design. Learn more about Discover Design exhibitors and their products by checking Housewares Connect 365 at www.housewares.org