Rebranding the floral product

Once associated with tradition and the older, female consumer — and definitely not associated with the younger or, for that matter, male consumer — the Liberty floral is one of the rebranding success stories of the 21st century. And we can probably all learn something from it.

In recent years Liberty of London has transformed itself, to become the pattern and printed textiles design of choice for what are undeniably some of the coolest brands around: most notably Target, Nike, J Crew and Supreme.

It’s no coincidence that Liberty has partnered with some of the most cutting edge brands, effectively reframing the traditional floral as avant-garde by having it used for products where the traditional floral would normally not appear. The floral, repositioned, seems quirky, edgy, and even flamboyant. Supreme’s Liberty floral-decorated caps, for example, look completely cutting edge, simply because no one else ever thought to use this kind of print in that kind of way. Supreme, we might note, began as a collective of skaters and artists in downtown New York.

liberty_floral_rebrandingIf Supreme confirmed Liberty’s new cutting edge chic image, it was it’s partnership with cool chain superstore Target that introduced the brand to young Americans. In 2010, Target launched a range of products, from teapots to peddle bikes, all covered in Liberty florals. This brand of print has also been used, several times, for Nike sneakers, as well as for shoes by J Crew and Dr. Martens. It’s the unexpected placement of the print that makes it — and the product that it is printed on — cool, relevant, new, and, of course, desirable.

Above: 1. Bike by Target (detail). 2. Bike by Target. 3. J Crew Campbell Oxford shoes.  4. Caps by Supreme. 5. Nike sneakers with ditsy floral print. 6. Teapot by Target.

What Dieter Rams’ ten principles of good design can teach us

Dieter Rams' radio: less is more.

Dieter Rams: less is more.

Industrial designer Dieter Rams has had a big effect on design today, especially through his work for BRAUN. A collection of Rams/BRAUN products recently went to auction with a minimum asking price of $450,000. The collection of 1,000 products, designed from between 1955 and 1985, demonstrates how the collaboration “managed to give technology a clear shape (form follows function),” according to BRAUN Design Collection dot com.

With decades as a product designer behind him, as website Vitsoe notes, during the 1980s Rams became concerned with “impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises” that was filling the world in the guise of design. In response, Rams began asking himself what exactly were the principles of good product design? He came up with ten. And, while times and product design has changed, for anyone interested in product design — whether for the home, for fashion, or for other industries, and whether as a creator or a consumer — Rams’ principles are still worth considering. Here is his list: Good design is…

Sleek and simple: Razor by BRAUN.

Sleek and simple: Razor by BRAUN.

Makes a product useful.
Makes a product understandable.
Thorough down to the last detail.
As little design as possible.

It’s interesting that, since Rams created his list of principles, being environmentally-friendly has become a much bigger concern for product designers and consumers, with a rethinking across the board of the types of materials we use, and how much we use of them.

While there may be some emphasis on how products should look, taken together, Rams’ principles ask us to think about product as something more. Product, by its nature, is something that we live and interact with. it’s part of our lives, and, in effect, part of us. The design of a product is in the detail. It’s aesthetic, but, according to Rams, it should also make our lives feel less complicated. We like that.

Pucker up: new product is covered by kiss icon

Red lips are a “symbol of feminine mystique,” say Meg Cohen and Karen Kozlowski in Read My Lips: A Cultural History of Lipstick.

Stars from Marilyn Monroe to Paloma Picasso and Madonna have made them their trade mark. And in 1971, graphic designer John Pasche created the “Tongue and Lips” logo for rock band The Rolling Stones. The logo has become so well-known that Gigwise recently said that “there isn’t an album logo as iconic and easily identifiable,” and describe d the Tongue and Lips logo as having “legendary status.”

The iconic female lips — symbolizing beauty, fun, modernity, and the freedom to express ourselves — has become part of the culture of our lives. And, at Design Works International, we’ve been noticing them around a lot lately. From textiles prints and knits to products from purses to iPhone cases, lips are one of the season’s “must haves.” Below are some of our favorites.


1. Alice + Olivia Lips & Eye Cardigan. 2. Kissing Lips pendant by Zara. 3. Stripy Lips iPhone hardcase by Marc Jacobs.  4. Lips continental leather wallet by Diance von Furstenberg. 5. Acedia top by Diane von Furstenberg.

Video: Nancy Fire Behind The Scenes at HGTV HOME Photo Shoot

Creative Director for Design Works International and HGTV Design Director Nancy Fire will be appearing on the HGTV Home Makeover television show on March 23 at 6:00/5:00 PM Central Time and March 29 at 1:00 /12:00 PM Central Time. Below is a short segment on “behind the scenes” at HGTV HOME.

Design Works Creative Director to appear in HGTV HOME Makeover TV Show

hgtv_home_march2-13_magazine_insert_thumbDesign Works International’s Creative Director, Nancy Fire, will appear in the upcoming “HGTV Home Makeover” television show. And so will the Design Works International’s New York studio, where some of the show was filmed.

Nancy was appointed Design Director for the HGTV HOME brand in 2011. And from the beginning, her goal has been to develop, in partnership with the HGTV team, the overall product line and brand image.

From the HGTV HOME ad, March 2013.

From the HGTV HOME ad, March 2013.

She has a wide array of responsibilities with HGTV HOME, from trend forecasting, design direction, and setting the tone for the brand’s product development, to working with licensees in the US.

The HGTV Home product line is already retailing in nearly 100 stores across the USA.

You can catch the show on March 23 at 6:00/5:00 PM Central Time. Or on March 29 at 1:00 /12:00 PM Central Time.