French Bull debuted in 2002 with a line of tableware acclaimed for its mastery of pattern and color. Today, the company’s celebratory style and LIVE VIVID™ message can be found across a wide range of categories including kitchen appliances, home decor, and fashion accessories. French Bull’s distinctive designs in melamine dinnerware and accessories such as kitchen textiles invite people to celebrate and make every day special.
We’re speaking today with French Bull CEO and designer Jackie Shapiro. Jackie is a vividist. She never met a blank surface she didn’t like and sees them as opportunities—as designs waiting to happen. She’s a gleeful graffitist, a poet of pattern, artist with a prankster soul and an obsessive doodler determined to redraw the world. She’s the engine that drives the company; the spark that ignites the fire. French Bull offers the verve and vivacity of Jackie Shapiro in the form of everyday items for kitchens, bedrooms, work spaces and play places.
Jackie is post-modern, pro-party and anti-elitist. She also wears many hats: CEO, BFF, mother of fierce offspring, better-half to her designer/musician/partner husband, co-feeder of Dash the loyal house bulldog. She makes her home in Connecticut, works out of a design studio in Manhattan and sees the planet as her playpen.
Jackie, are there any specific designers, places or eras that influence you? We can see some vintage appeal from the 1950s to the 1970s, to nature and varied cultures.
I never know when inspiration may hit, but for sure it comes from all over. Travel, entertaining at home, music, movies, fashion, art. I’m inspired by many sources: posters of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, artists such as Beatriz Milhazes and Sister Corita, the laundry detergent and cereal box aisles in American supermarkets, magazines from the past such as Flair and Holiday, popular culture including Batman the TV show and board games, as well as castles and fashion pieces such as flat boots with narrow toes and fat, thick sneakers. I also love modern topiary.
How do you choose which idea to take to the next step — to product development?
I design all the time, and ask everyone’s opinion—my colleagues, people I commute with, my kids, husband—I’ll ask anyone around. It’s a very collaborative process at French Bull. Each person has a personal take on things. In the end we come to a group decision taking all perspectives into account, including our sales staff, designers, and input from our customers.
How do you identify the key user audience for your products?
We typically have deep conversations with our key retailers and listen to our customers. With that amazing feedback we go off and make what we have passion for.
Is there an approach or look that joins the functionality, form or emotional appeal of your product line?
Absolutely. The overwhelming feedback we get is that it evokes positive emotions and a sense of joy tied to physical product. If there were two words that come to mind about the brand it would be “Live Vivid”.
How do new technologies influence your product design? Do you use 3-D printing, Kickstarter or other platforms to develop or launch products?
New technologies don’t influence our designs. We see that 3-D printing is very exciting and we are definitely educating ourselves on the possibilities.
It’s a little more organic than that. However, I’ve been designing using technology since 1984. Here’s a retro video from that time where I was on public access television here in New York.
How do you use social media?
We really use social media to have conversations with our customers. We love to hear feedback about new products, new patterns, and the general news from the brand.
Where are your products manufactured?
Our products are primarily manufactured in South Korea and Vietnam. We’ve been lucky to have consistent, high-quality, strong manufacturing partners in those countries.
How do you see design’s importance in our industry as it moves forward?
Whether it’s design for aesthetics or functionality, the industry continues to become more sophisticated.
Can you give us a preview of what you will be showing in your booth in Discover Design?
This is the exciting part! We are launching many new items based on the consistent successes we have seen at retail with our partners. Our serving accessories have been a go-to gift and we are making this into a full-fledged impulse program. Along with accessories we are infusing our entertaining assortment with fun bowls and appetizer plates to coordinate the story.
We are also planning on debuting additional food storage options coming out of the strength of the category for us in 2015. Additionally we will further expand our Kids assortment with the new Farm collection – super cute and irresistible!
Tell us about your previous experience with Discover Design.
We always have a positive experience in the Discover Design area. Seeing it grow over the years has really been fantastic for us. There is no way we can put a price on the buyer, industry, and media relationships we’ve made.
Thank you, Jackie, for telling us about your drive to LIVE VIVID™. We’re look forward to seeing your 2016 spring and summer collection at your booth in N8100 in the Discover Design Expo in the North Building, a few steps from the Grand Concourse.
Learn more about French Bull by visiting www.frenchbull.com
Discover Design Grows and Moves to North Building
Get acquainted with the people behind the stylish products that will appear at the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show in Discover Design. Nearly 200 new and veteran design leaders, including emerging companies in the Design Debut incubator will present their latest products to retailers looking for the unique. Our blog conversations with selected exhibitors will give you a glimpse of the inspirations, influences and ideas that go into creating the exciting products that you’ll see at the Show from March 5 – 8 in Chicago.