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Behind the scenes: Design Department

Behind the scenes: Design Department

Twice a year, we unveil hundreds of new products to surprise and delight you. Most originate at our studios in Aurora, New York, nearly two years before you see them in our stores or on our website.

There are seven designers in our Design Department who have a variety of artistic backgrounds. Most have been with the company for many years and have been involved with creating some of our most iconic products, including our Courtly Check enamelware.

Designer Kira Cole helps to initiate and guide the design process as our design manager. The first step in designing for a season, Kira says, is picking fabrics with Rebecca Proctor, our creative director and chief brand officer. After that, all the designers offer their ideas, and an inspirational outline develops, noting themes, colors, and finishes. Finally, all of that translates into a list of products for each season.

Then, over the next six months or so, the designers work one-on-one with Rebecca on their products. “Things are usually a collaborative effort with Rebecca,” says designer Mattie Tilling. “There’s a lot of discussion and a lot of back and forth.”

Rebecca says there are many facets to what our designers do. Each designs for all of our product lines, and they often travel around the world to work with best-in-class manufacturers to see their ideas take shape. Their design esthetic usually draws on our legacy, while at the same time keeping us relevant and looking to the future, Rebecca adds.

“They’re just an amazing team of unsung heroes,” says Rebecca of the design team. “They have a quiet work ethic and the discipline to deliver.”

Most of the actual designing is done on computers, which designer Kathleen Connell says makes the process more efficient. When a design is completed, a prototype of the product is produced and then fine-tuned. It’s quite common to see this part of the process taking place in the department, where there’s always at least one designer doing something hands-on to get all the details just right. Kathleen says this element, uniting form and function, will always be essential, even with technology. “The touch and feel are so important, and how things fit is really important too,” she says.

Seeing their ideas transformed from paper to product also adds to the designers’ satisfaction and their sense of accomplishment. Says designer Gary Hunt, “The excitement is when the prototype is completed.”

So, what are our talented designers working on now? To keep you truly surprised and delighted, we can’t say much more than they’re focused on spring 2020. But we can say that you’ll see more of the wonderful one-of-kind designs that have become our signature over the last 35 years.

Says Rebecca, “We want to be known for good design and to be true to what we do, which is to create a beautiful viewpoint for your home. We want our designs to make you feel good and to push your happy buttons.”

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