What does summertime mean to you? Barbeques, corn on the cob and …. cold treats? When you’re chillin’ in the backyard or on the porch—Zoku treatmakers make every occasion a celebration.
Zoku’s first product, which started with a seemingly simple idea What if we could make popsicles freeze faster?, propelled the company into the housewares market in 2009. The patented Zoku Quick Pop® Maker delighted parents and children as it made delicious (and healthy) homemade frozen pops on the countertop— in just seven minutes and without electricity. Pop lovers could create their own flavors from fresh juices and avoid high-priced, high-sugar purchased treats. The Quick Pop® Maker was a hit and became a popular choice for dessert and snack time for kids and adults alike.
After premiering one of the most successful recent product launches in kitchenware, Zoku continues to bring innovation and creativity into the world of homemade foodie fun. It expanded the Quick Pop® Maker line with varied products (Frogs, Fish and Polar Bear characters will make you smile) and a recipe book. New items were introduced such as the innovative Ice Ball, which lets you savor iced drinks on the rocks without diluting the flavor; the Slush & Shake Maker, a fast and easy way to enjoy fresh slushies and milkshakes; the Iced Coffee Maker and the Ice Cream Maker.
“Zoku” means “family” in Japanese and the company aims to create family memories around its products. Created in its Hoboken, New Jersey headquarters, Zoku products are now sold around the world. The innovative, easy-to-use, well-designed products received a National Parenting Seal of Approval, are included in museum collections, have earned awards for outstanding design and are featured widely in national news media outlets. Happy users engage in lively social media conversations, sharing stories and recipe tips.
We chatted with Zoku’s president, Ken Zorovich, to learn about how his company creates such appealing products. We also asked him about Zoku’s experience at the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show.
Ken, where do you find inspiration when designing new products?
Step into any family’s kitchen and you will see the type of creative and adventurous energy that drives our product development team at Zoku to design new product experiences.
Are there any specific designers, places or eras that influence you?
We often find ourselves reflecting fondly on our own childhoods and the people, products and experiences that helped ignite our own creativity and passion for making!
How do you choose which idea to take to the next step — to product development?
We rely on a number of important user needs, design metrics, financial, market and manufacturing requirements while selecting an idea to “take to the next step.”
How do you identify the key user audience for your products?
Any time individuals interact with one another or perform a particular task, there is an opportunity to reshape their experience with great products—our team starts by identifying meaningful interactions, and the people involved become our audience.
Is there an approach or look that joins the functionality, form or emotional appeal of your product line?
While we carefully craft each of our products’ form and function independently, all of Zoku’s products share a unique aesthetic that unifies our product line—everything from bright colors, appealing forms, cute characters and delightful interactions!
How do new technologies influence your product design? Do you use 3-D printing, Kickstarter or other platforms to develop or launch products? How do you use social media?
Because so many of our products are creative tools, testing and prototyping are crucial to bringing these ideas to reality. Rapid prototyping technologies, such as 3-D printing, greatly improve the speed and resolution with which we can evaluate concepts. Technology amplifies our process, but pen and paper are still very important.
Individuals love to share their Zoku creations, and we love to see them! Search any social media platform for Zoku and you will discover loads of recipe ideas, artistic creations and playful narratives the world-over. We like to host creative contests and even share snippets of our development process.
Where are your products manufactured?
All of Zoku’s products are designed in the USA and manufactured by our bright and dedicated team in China.
How do you see design’s importance in our industry as it moves forward?
Our industry plays such an important and direct role in the lives of millions of individuals as they furnish and fill their homes with products that keep families connected. Design ensures that individuals—not profits or margins—remain the main priority for product development.
Can you give us a preview of what you will be showing in your booth in Discover Design?
Zoku will be unveiling several new products in our booth, but you’ll have to wait until Show time to see them!
Tell us about your experience with Discover Design. Did our Show help build your business?
Zoku found a new home among other design-focused exhibitors in 2015. Discover Design reaffirms Zoku’s position as a design leader to our current customers, and extends our reach to new customers who place a high value on design.
Thank you, Ken, for sharing your thoughts with us. We wish you a successful summer season and look forward to seeing you in Chicago at the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show, March 5-8.
At the 2016 Show, Discover Design settles into a new home in the North Building of McCormick Place. Visible from the Grand Concourse, this new location triples the size of its 2015 design presence and will embrace all categories. A global panel of design experts reviews exhibitor applications to select companies that represent the best in functionality and style.
See Zoku there, along with other notable design-driven companies such as Joseph Joseph, Charles Viancin, Alessi, Sagaform, Magisso, Corkcicle and Nambe and many others.
Learn more about Zoku’s exciting products at www.zokuhome.com. Have fun staying cool!