The prestigious Rossana Orlandi Gallery made its debut at the Lake Como Design Festival, where it presented the art-design project LEWIT, a monumental bed sculpture that arose from a creative symbiosis between Draga & Aurel and eclectic architect Giuliano dell’Uva, in collaboration with the Italian textile company Somma1867.
The event took place in the fireplace room (Sala del Camino) of Villa Olmo, one of the lake’s most charming historical dwellings. LEWIT was showcased as a free-standing furnishing item designed and made as a three-dimensional artwork. It merged contemporary taste and aesthetics with explicit references to the artistic avant-garde of the 1960s and 70s.
The Sadie chair, for example, is a custom made creation of a smaller scale that is hard to source in retail, but that has found its way in numerous clients’ homes and now, a signature piece in the Heirloom Collection. Click play on the video below to watch DNN Editor in Chief, Courtney Porter, in conversation with Alexandra Kaehler.
Tomoko Imade Dyen’s tea omakase was detailed and intimate and elegant and while she is not a designer nor a potter, she became a “main character” that night in telling the “story” of OWIU Goods. Without characters helping tell the story and show how to use the products in new and interesting ways, you can limit growth and miss out on reaching potential consumers. Sometimes finding those characters is obvious. In this case, Tomoko is an expert in elevated culinary experiences, helping to market to those who appreciate them too and can use OWIU Goods to enhance their own everyday culinary experiences.
A new cadre of consumers are emerging: the “zeros.”
These shoppers have zero boundaries, zero interest in middle-market goods, zero loyalty and zero patience, according to a report from global consulting firm McKinsey published in its McKinsey Quarterly journal.
But brands, retailers and designers who understand their motivations and priorities could cultivate these consumers, adding zeros to their bottom line.
Let’s take a look at their traits, one by one:
Consumers continue to favor an omnichannel retail model, moving frequently (and hopefully seamlessly) between in-store and online shopping. When they choose to shop through which channel depends on a host of factors, including what they’re buying, their mood, how much time they have, and if they happen to be near a store or cozily ensconced on their sofa when they remember they need something. McKinsey notes that “even grocery, once a stubbornly store-based category, is becoming solidly omnichannel, with nearly 40% of U.S. consumers saying they do at least some of their grocery shopping online.”
Overall, about three-quarters of consumers still prefer to purchase furniture in-store, but that’s driven by older consumers and a desire among all ages to feel/lie down on big-ticket, comfort-focused items like sofas and mattresses, according to new Consumer Insights Now research. (Consumer Insights Now research is conducted on behalf of Decor News Now and its sister publications to provide actionable information for furniture buyers ahead of the High Point Market each fall and spring.)
But if you dig into the CIN numbers, you’ll see that younger shoppers are more likely to buy all categories of furniture online, and home furnishings shoppers of all ages more evenly split their shopping between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores when they are buying smaller items like rugs, lighting and decorative accessories.
Today, omnichannel retail extends beyond the typical brick-and-mortar/e-commerce dichotomy and into shopping via social media and relying on influencers and celebrities for product information, McKinsey notes. CIN research shows more than one in 10 shoppers relies on social media posts from influencers/celebrities for product guidance. That figure doubles to two in 10 shoppers when considering just adult Gen Z shoppers (ages 18-26) — and they are helping to define the future of retail.
Zero interest in the middle
We’ve been seeing a bifurcation across consumer product markets for some time, with consumers, as McKinsey puts it, “either scrimping or splurging.” The report notes that the total share of consumer dollars spent on midpriced goods and services has dropped nearly 10% in the past five years. The trend is being accelerated, in part, by economic realities. Consumers on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are getting hit harder by inflation, with wages that aren’t keeping up, and are looking for bargains. Consumers on the upper rungs often want the quality, durability and prestige that can come with higher-priced goods.
Concerningly, it appears that more consumers may be in that first group. McKinsey notes that last spring, 80% of U.S. consumers said they were “trading down to lower-priced options.”
To help cover the costs of furniture that might be immediately out of reach, about one in four shoppers plans to use financing options (such as personal or retailer-branded credit cards) that allow for monthly installment payments to pay for big-ticket furniture like dining tables, sofas, recliners and mattresses, CIN research found. And about four in 10 are more likely to buy from a store that offers financing options — and that’s a way retailers can step shoppers up to higher-end goods.
One group that has money to spend is older consumers with disposable incomes. I wrote about these vibrant mature consumers recently.
There was a time when one way many families identified themselves was by the car brand they favored. There were Buick buyers and committed Cadillac owners. (Truth be told, I have a Honda habit.) In some ways, the same was true of furniture. My family was a fan of Ethan Allen, and I still have inherited pieces from that brand in my home.
But brand loyalty is waning. “About half of consumers reported switching brands in 2022, compared with only one-third in 2020,” McKinsey notes. “What’s more, about 90% said they’ll keep switching.” That doesn’t mean companies can skimp on brand-building efforts, but it does mean they can’t rest on their reputation. Instead, brands, retailers and even designers need to continually innovate and offer new products and services that meet consumers’ evolving needs and give them a reason to return.
Consumers want what they want — and they want it now. We see this most clearly when it comes to free standard shipping, an expectation driven by Amazon’s next-day and same-day delivery service, as well as buy online, pick up in-store services offered by many retailers. “A plurality of customers today report that three-day shipping is the slowest they’ll tolerate before looking to other retailers,” McKinsey notes.
Consumers shopping for larger furniture pieces are a little more patient, CIN research shows. For instance, 37% of those in the market for dining room furniture are willing to wait two to three weeks for their purchase to arrive. But more than one in 10 expects delivery in less than a week, and two in 10 want their furniture in a week. The expectations are similar when it comes to delivery of reclining chairs, according to CIN.
Thankfully, supply chains once bottlenecked by pandemic closures have returned to almost normal. Bringing production back to North America is also helping many brands deliver orders more quickly to both retailers and consumers. Such improvements are helping designers better meet the needs of their clients, too. Some designers are also offering smaller, preset design packages that allow clients to enjoy a speedier makeover of a room or two.
These zero consumers don’t have to be thought of negatively. Success is just a matter of calculating how you can best meet their needs.
The BR Home collection debuts with a dedicated website at www.brhome.com and will be in select US stores by the end of September, including two new BR Home pop-up experiences in New York City and Los Angeles. Prices vary across the collection from $150 for beautiful vases to $195 for washed cotton sheet sets and $1,250 to $3,450 for dining furniture and sofas ranging from $2,650 to $4,950.
Jessica Bantom, known as, The Design DEIB Consultant, is the industry’s leading figure in the field of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Her overarching mission revolves around empowering design industry professionals to enhance their cultural competence, enabling them to create in a manner that respects and celebrates humanity. These shifts are also reflected in their bottom lines. Click play on the video below to watch Jessica Bantom in conversation with DNN Editor in Chief Courtney Porter:
Jessica Bantom to give keynote at Fall High Point Market 2023
Why has the inclusion of identity in design become increasingly crucial today? How can designers proactively adapt to stay ahead of the cultural and demographic transformations influencing our customer base and the talent available to us?
Discover insights to these inquiries and more at our Keynote Series featuring Jessica Bantom, the author of “Design for Identity: How to Design Authentically for a Diverse World.” This event is presented by the High Point Market Authority in collaboration with the Diversity Advocacy Alliance. Visit here to learn more about the keynote.
About Design for Identity
Design encompasses not just expression, but also serves as a creative act and a vital service. However, despite the profession’s mission to design for everyone, diversity within the field remains startlingly limited. In her upcoming book, Jessica Bantom delves into the profound implications of design in our daily lives, spanning environments, products, imagery, and the fashion industry. Frequently, design concepts rest upon assumptions and stereotypes that fail to resonate with the diverse lives and values of customers. Some company symbols and brands, such as Aunt Jemima, have long ignited controversy, but it’s only recently that a corporate social awakening has taken hold. As our society undergoes demographic shifts and becomes increasingly diverse, varied perspectives are too often disregarded unless compelled by public outcry.
Bantom explores the concept of human-centered design, which delves into the complexities of identity: how people live, their values, and the factors that shape their perspectives and experiences. The foundation of human-centered design lies in direct engagement with customers, identifying their challenges, and collaborating to test ideas and solutions. It is imperative for businesses to embrace this paradigm shift and shed outdated mindsets if they aspire to thrive. Bantom elucidates the six habits of culturally competent designers that can drive this transformation, yielding design solutions that resonate with individuals from diverse backgrounds. She presents a Design for Identity Blueprint that pays homage to humanity, celebrates diversity, fosters equity and inclusion, and ensures that the design profession mirrors the evolving realities of our world. This enlightening book is slated for release in the spring of 2023.
More about Jessica Bantom
Jessica Bantom is a combines the practices of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), with interior design consultation. She passionately believes that immediate action can be taken by all to generate positive outcomes for those who have historically faced exclusion. In addition to her role as a leadership coach and consultant, she is dedicated to empowering aspiring allies to take actions that result in meaningful change for historically marginalized communities.
Throughout her distinctive career, Jessica’s consistent theme has been a deep concern for people’s well-being. She approaches her work, whether it involves designing systems, strategies, experiences, or spaces, with a fundamental question: “How will this project or initiative impact everyone involved?” Hailing from Philadelphia and based in Washington, DC, with a global outlook, Jessica’s appreciation for cultural diversity stems from her early education in desegregated schools and diverse public classrooms. Her unique talent lies in making challenging topics approachable and authentic, a skill appreciated by her clients and audiences. Jessica’s aim is to normalize conversations about identity and inspire meaningful actions, both large and small, to benefit historically excluded individuals.
With a background spanning marketing, IT and management consulting, and startup leadership, Jessica is a versatile and business-oriented creative. Boasting more than two decades of consulting experience, she has worked with prestigious institutions such as renowned universities, global professional associations, and government agencies. Jessica’s educational journey includes graduating from the University of Virginia and Marymount University and earning a Master’s in interior design, alongside a collection of certifications in DEI, change management, design thinking, coaching, and facilitation.
Houston designer Marie Flanigan notes of her fantastical and moody primary suite, “One of the luxuries of the Living by Design Showhouse is customizing even the smallest detail.” She chose a vintage hand-woven tapestry inset in architectural paneling that would have been a huge expense and undertaking in real life. But she notes, “these elevated finishes make the space feel beautiful, unique and lifelike.”
At its core, Living Vehicle seeks to recreate the comforts of home within a mobile milieu. The interior of LV serves as a testament to the utilization of natural and robust materials, akin to an empty canvas for personal expression. Each LV is an individual masterpiece, meticulously tailored to the unique preferences and lifestyle of its owner. The Luxury Finishes package elevates this experience with premium materials, including exquisite black walnut wood treatments, luminous white surfaces that invite natural light, abundant windows that seamlessly connect the interior with the outdoors, and the extensive use of mill finish aluminum, an eco-conscious choice.
About The Other Art Fair
The Other Art Fair is a global art fair that connects independent artists with thousands of art buyers in a welcoming and creative environment. Set against the backdrop of the world’s biggest cities, each Fair delivers the unexpected, combining access to boundary-pushing yet always-affordable artworks with immersive installations, performances, and unique features. The result is an inspiring, evocative, inclusive, and fun event that creates lasting connections between artists and art lovers. Since its launch in 2011, The Other Art Fair has worked with over 3,000 artists from more than 20 countries and now hosts 11 fairs annually across the UK, the US, and Australia. For more information, visit www.theotherartfair.com.
About Saatchi Art
Saatchi Art Group is composed of the Saatchi Art online marketplace, The Other Art Fair, and
the group’s Hospitality Art Advisory. Together, the group is redefining the experience of buying
and selling art. As one of the world’s largest selections of original art, Saatchi Art Group is
providing art lovers with a marketplace to discover, commission, purchase, and install art by top
emerging artists across the globe, all while giving artists a convenient and welcoming
environment in which to exhibit and sell their work. To discover the world of Saatchi Art, please
Join us in a conversation with design historian Emily Evans Eerdmans as we delve into Buatta’s enduring influence and why 80s maximalism is making a triumphant return.