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What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

At MacKenzie-Childs, we’re known for our happy take on home. We like to have fun, to mix and match colors and patterns, and to make you smile.

The names of our products reflect that, or as our Creative Director and Chief Brand Officer Rebecca Proctor says, “We have a funny, happy, unique point of view about home and an irreverent way with words.”

Put those two things together, and you get…the Ridiculous Bench, the Curiosity Carousel, the Rickrack Table, and so many more products with unique monikers.

It usually takes a few years for a product to go from being just an idea to a detailed sketch to a finished piece that you can hold in your hands. Some products have a name before they’re produced, which is the story behind the Mrs. Powers Dinner & Door Bell. It was inspired by a real person, the late Joan Powers, who lived near our studios in Aurora, New York.

Joan was a regular visitor to our Aurora shop, and Rebecca became friends with her. One day Rebecca was having tea at Joan’s house and noticed a unique iron bell hanging in the kitchen that had a pilgrim-like figure on it. Joan used the bell to call her husband, who was a farmer, in from the fields. We used that bell as inspiration, turned the pilgrim into a woman with a jaunty hat, added some floral details, and named it for Joan. Later, we added two more iron pieces, the Mrs. Powers Garden Gate and the Mrs. Powers Tuteur.

Other products have been inspired by literature, art or popular culture, like the Frida Cowlo pillow, named for Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. There’s also a large collection of products, including Christmas ornaments and tea towels, that pay homage to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

We’re also inspired by places both near and far. Many of our products trace their names to the Scottish heritage of our founders, Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs, including the Dirlie-Bane Table, the Inverness line of furniture, and our Thistle & Bee dinnerware.

Closer to home, there’s the Chicken Palace Jewelry Box and the Chicken Palace Jewelry Armoire, which feature the Chicken Palace at our estate. There’s also the intricately detailed Diorama Dining Table, which has a multilayered tabletop that highlights the beauty of nearby Cayuga Lake.

And there are times we design a product, look at it, and simply call it as we see it. Items that fall under this category, otherwise known as “it is what it is,” include:

  • Practical Pitcher: Its use for everything from summertime drinks to flowers makes this pitcher, available in three sizes and two patterns, well, practical.
  • Terrific Tray: That’s how we feel about this indispensable leather tray lined with our signature Courtly Check and featuring sturdy, bridle-inspired handles. It’s perfect for toting drinks or corralling items in the home office.
  • Everyday Bowl: Like the Practical Pitcher, we think you might be able to use this durable bowl just about every day. It holds everything from oatmeal in the morning to salad with dinner, and like the Practical Pitcher, it comes in a variety of sizes and patterns.
  • Tiny Tartan Table: Well, it’s tiny and it has a tartan top, and it’s very, very charming.
  • Tassel Table: What else do you call a table with a ceramic base that looks like one of our signature tassels? Yes, we thought so too.

To sum it all up, Rebecca says, “We make fun things, and we want our names to reflect that. We hope the name makes the item even more fun and pays homage to it.”


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