Developing a product idea

hanging pendant lamp prototype
1st prototype for pendant lamp

The beginning of a new product starts with a need and an idea.

A good time to develop a new product is when you spot a perceived need in the market place or see that your current product range is lacking something. Your idea is the piece that fills the need your other products don’t.

Alternatively, the need can be a creative urge. Sometimes a new idea just comes to us, in a dream for example (!) and one is compelled to create it. These ideas can be off the wall and unique, but because they have passion behind them, they can also be good ones.

What will I do with this shape?

Both are great ways to begin. In general however, it isn’t the first attempt at building a new product that results in a finished one. Once started, the idea gets formed, reformed and tweaked many times. One thing is certain though, one needs to start and if there is no need, the product will be pointless.

I have wanted to add a pendant lamp to my range for some time. I really like them, and my range of lamps lacks any. But where to start? One reason it takes me so long to get to ideas that I have simmering on the back burner is lack of time. So, to get things jump started, I often begin with old ideas. For my pendant lamps I slip cast a couple of vases and lamp bases and tried turning them upside down. In the past, I’ve sliced parts off pieces I already have and stuck them together in new ways. This is an excellent way for me to get something physical to work on.

images of hand built ceramic pendant lamps in progress in kRI kRI Studio
Modified Bubble vase becomes start for small pendant lamp

Because it’s challenging for me to work on designing 3D objects using 2D drawings, having a basic prototype to work out technical details with is indispensable. I can get a feel for proportions by adding to or subtracting from my working model and bring the form in line with my concept and aesthetic. It is also easier for me to figure out hardware issues when I have an actual object in front of me.

I get so excited when I start actualizing a new idea. I want only to work on that and nothing else. But it takes time. For me, having a work in progress present in the studio is valuable time for getting to know it. The prototype gets moved around as I juggle space for other projects. It is viewed in different lights and in relation to other things in the studio and I have the opportunity to fine tune and refine the shape. Along the way, problems or flaws can be detected and dealt with as I tend to daily production tasks. The time it takes to get things right is time well spent. Once a mold is made, there is very little that can be done to change it… that is until it becomes part of an idea for a new product!

small bubble table lamp compared with bubble vase
Bubble table lamp with bubble vase

One of the benefits of starting the way I do is that the objects in my range end up having a relationship to one another. Although I ultimately end up creating a fresh original form from scratch for my new product, most of the design development takes place in the 3D “sketches” I do using my older designs. A new “original” is essential in making the mold. The shape must be scaled up to allow for shrinking of the plaster in the mold and of the clay in the slip casting and firing stages. And this is only the beginning!

After I have created the new mold, I begin to know the new piece. By handling it, taking it out of the mold, trimming it and glazing it, I learn the personality of my product. When I really know what it’s all about, I am best able to choose the right colors for it and promote it effectively. Not surprisingly, my customers and followers give me loads of useful feedback helping me in this process. Its not always direct. No response is a response. I try to always keep listening. This is how to become aware of needs, and it’s a great way to get new ideas!

I hope you find these thoughts provoking if not helpful as you enjoy handmade objects or as you create and develop your own products. If you have any feedback, ideas or suggestions on this topic, you are most welcome to share!

Thanks,

*-*

Kristin

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Welcome Autumn

table lamp, ceramic, handmade, seattle, kri kri, interior lighting

table lamp, ceramic, handmade, seattle, kri kri, interior lightingHello and Happy Autumn!

Thanks to all of you who visited the VIT ceramics booth at Dwell on Design in June!
This year, I exhibited the VIT collection in white and it was very well received. I also felt a strong response to the handmade element of VIT ceramics. Today we are surrounded by technology and super refined, highly produced, objects. Though definitely not undesirable, it seems that in response to so much tech, we are becoming more attracted to handmade objects and the beautiful irregularity inherent in artisan-crafted pieces. Dwell on design gave me the opportunity to witness, first hand, the smiles on peoples as they entered the Kri Kri Studio booth and relaxed, surrounded by handmade ceramics.

Along with introducing white to my range, I started using a vintage style, white twist cord with the VIT ceramics lamps. This carries through with the thin white stripe detail and creates a more polished product. I love the texture and the way this cord drapes!

ceramic lamp, handmade, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, vintage cord, small details

Also New: The Bubble Lamp; Transformed with a drum shade, this small piece is ideal for bedsides, entry ways and cozy spaces!

handmade, ceramic lamp, table lamp, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, blackhandmade, ceramic lamp, table lamp, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, celadon

handmade, ceramic lamp, table lamp, kri kri studio, seattle, VIT ceramics, yellow

 

A busy summer has made for an exciting Autumn! I am now working on samples of lamps and vases using my new color, “Chocolate brown”. For a look at these delicious options, visit Kri Kri studio on Instagram .

Newest in the vase range is a Tall Square vase.

tall vase, handmade ceramics, square, pottery, seattle, kri kri, vit ceramics

Both elegant and quirky, this shape can stand on its own holding a bountiful bouquet. Used in pairs, the Tall Square vase creates balance and drama on mantles and sideboards. I look forward to filling  a chocolate version with fall colors!

Wishing you all a stimulating transition into the new season!

*-*

Kristin

Summer’s Gift

I am always on the alert for unexpected beauty and props that can be used in my photo shoots. In August it was clumps of wild fennel and rampant hot pink sweet peas that caught my attention.vase, ceramic, white, VIT, kri, krikri, Seattle

These hardy plants, plucked from the urban jungle, threaten to look more like weeds than botanical inspirations at times. However, the bright shock of pink and simple yellow-green sprays of seeds were perfect elements for highlighting my organic shapes. I utilized them over and over again.

bud, vase, white, VIT, ceramics, kri, krikri, studio, Seattle

The more time I spend photographing my work the better I come to know and understand what it is that makes them special. I see how surfaces respond to different lighting conditions. I also take note of how glaze colors interact with a variety of flowers and foliage. I grow to appreciate the irregularities of each handmade form.

cup, small, tiny, sake, ceramic, VUIT, kri, krikri, studio, seattle

This past spring I began posting images regularly on Instagram. The discipline started as a necessary task. These days posting is a satisfying activity, like making a daily journal entry. It is a time for me to slow down and take a moment to see and think about what is beautiful in my work. It is my reward for sweating over it day after day!
You can follow my photo journal: https://instagram.com/krikristudio/

The value of Handmade

studio, kri kri, tall gourd lamp, work in progress
Kri Kri adding stripes to Tall Gourd lamp base

“What value, if any, do handmade objects add to our lives and homes today?”

One of the first things I notice is that items that are not machine made  seem to stand out from the crowd of other objects in a room. Regardless of how skillfully it is made, the handmade object has a life of its own. A handmade piece of cloth, or a painting versus a print, can completely change how a room feels. I could say, “It adds warmth.” But what is that “warmth”?

Every item that has been hand crafted captures some of the human energy that went into making it. That is something that can’t be replicated by a machine. That is the “warmth”. An item made by hand is tactile. Primitive or not, that item contains a spirit and becomes a manifestation of our creative potential. Having artisan made objects around me gives me inspiration, indirectly. They do not make me feel that I need to create. Instead, I feel more connected to my human-ness in a comforting way.

A handmade object is imperfect. Perhaps that makes it more relaxing to be around. We are not perfect beings either. Subtly, one is reminded that there is beauty or at least charm in the irregular. Those who love crafts have come to appreciate those inevitable flaws.

It is my belief that handmade objects do add value to our lives. As technology continues to play a bigger role in our lives, it is important to remember how much our hands can do and discover. Handmade connects us to other humans in a sensual way. Handmade reminds us that we are creative beings, with flaws. Could it be possible that having more handmade objects in our lives might nudge us to be more accepting of ourselves and our human imperfections? Can those faults be quirks and considered endearing traits and characterful? More to ponder!

Black and white: the tall gourd lamp

black, lamp, VIT lamp, ceramic design, ceramic lamp, custom lamp, kri kristudio

My recent open house at Kri Kri Studio gave me an opportunity to play around with my lamps, something I rarely get to do because I am so busy making them! When I found myself short of large drum shades for the tall gourd lamp, I plunked a shade for the space needle lamp on it. The result was a playful contrast of size and shape; the shade being narrow and wide, the base narrow and tall. (dimensions: 15″ wide x 24″ tall)

lamp, ceramic design, VIT ceramics, Kri Kri Studio, ceramic lighting, pottery lamp, tall table lamp                                                                                 It was my good fortune to also have free access to the store room of shades from Insatiable Studios to top lamps on display. Of the 4 pieces I chose, one was the large drum with a diamond motif pictured here. These handmade rice paper shades add another layer of craft to the VIT ceramic lamps.   (dimensions: 14″ wide x 28″ tall)

Lamps are not something that people rush in to by by the armful. I held this first open house in the evening so that the lamps could be appreciated and I didn’t offer much else for sale. My aim was to have folks to enjoy each other and I wanted to be able to hang out and get to know my customers better. If you would like to be on my mailing list for the next event (Dec. 6th) Please get in touch with me. I’d love to invite you!

Bubble lamp

ceramic lamp, small lamp, table lamp, pottery lamp, handmade lamp
VIT ceramics Bubble lamps

The Tall Gourd lamp continues to be my most popular style in the VIT ceramics lamp range. However, I am very excited about the Bubble lamp. It now comes with a custom, cone shaped shade that I designed. These shades are made just for me in the USA. Have a little fun with this “all American” product!
New colors; black and celadon
Two new colors have been added to the lamp range; black and celadon. Both these classic colors open new possibilities to your design schemes. I am always open to developing custom colors for the any of the lamps. The custom projects are an opportunity for me to keep abreast of current tastes and to try something fresh.

I found a table…

I found a table… under my table cloth.

Kri Kri nook set up for photo shoot
Kri Kri Studio nook set up for photo shoot

The table had been lurking around the family for years, employed as a project table for anything that involved paint, glue or in other words, anything messy. But, it just happened to be the perfect size for the nook at Kri Kri Studio. Of course, the first thing I did to it, once it was in place, was to cover it with a perky, oilcloth table cloth. And so it was for many years.

Eve vase in black in nook at Kri Kri Studio
Oilcloth covering perfect patina

Recently, I was preparing for a photo-shoot of the black Eve vase. The nook is a perfect spot. I’ve suspended a rail on the wall for hanging a back drop and hung plastic film over the windows to diffuse the light. Set up also involves ironing the back drops. In the process of all this, the perky table cloth slipped a bit more than usual and I caught a glimpse of the table below. That crusty surface, evolved from years of use was now revealed a a rich patina, perfectly rustic and so inspiring that I spent more of my day shooting than planned.

VIT ceramics bud vase set
Rustic table with modern bud vases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work became play as I pulled out my VIT dinnerware, then, added bud vases and vibrant fuchsia sweet peas picked in my ally.

Isn’t that how it always should be?!

VIT ceramics, bud vase with sweet peas, pear shape
pear shaped bud vases w/sweet peas

Up Cycle

Dwell, tradeshow, VIT ceramics, kri kri studio,
VIT ceramics booth, Dwell on Design 2014

It was a big push to get Kri Kri Studio to the Dwell on Design show in Los Angeles. Over the course of one year, I built the range of VIT ceramic lamps up from one model to five and added the Eve vase to the vase collection.

But developing and producing products is only part of the picture. I also needed a booth to display my wares. It needed to be designed, built, shipped to the show and set up on site. This time around I was on a pretty tight budget and challenged myself to get the job done spending as little money as possible by re-using as many materials as I could.

VIT ceramics, Dwell booth, LA convention center
Ready for set up

My friends Lauren Grossman and Jil Smith shared some valuable input that helped me to arrive at a solution for displaying my products. I also got inspiration from the postcard that my husband, Nigel Foster, designed for the show.

From just down the street at Terra Bella Flowers I scored two, thick 10′ long 2 x 10 planks. These became shelves for the lamps on the back wall. Just by cutting down wheel barrow handles a few inches, I instantly had some shapely supports for the rather substantial shelving. I used canvas salvaged from a previous display to cover the shelves and re-painted them. Smaller pieces of wood for the side wall shelves were easier to find. These I covered with a re-purposed straw blind from IKEA which added texture and visual variety. Bits and pieces from my tableware booths at NYIGF were re-used to build the freestanding box that doubled as a storage compartment. Perhaps the “VIT” letters  had seen better days, but, I left them on the canvas for one last go.

transforming booth 619
transforming booth 619

the foundations are ready
the foundations are ready

A lot of sweat equity went into this booth, but in the end, the only things I needed to purchase were brackets and screws, wheel barrow handles and paint. I did opt to buy a gray sisal rug with dark trim instead of renting the standard one. The cost was about the same but the resulting look was much classier.

unpacking
unpacking

 

I will also add that I found my pallet (free) in the industrial district of Seattle. After it came back, I recycled it easily by sticking it outside the studio with a “free” sign on it.

 

 

 

 

When it was all over, I felt the booth displayed both lamps and vases to good advantage. Visitors stepped in and were genuinely enthusiastic about my products. Now I have connections to follow-up on and am thinking forward, imagining what my booth will be like next year.

Meet the Gourd

VIT ceramics, lamps, chocko, gourd, vase, torso, pottery lamps, ceramics lamps, moderrn, contemporary
VIT torso vase in gray, Chocko lamp & Gourd lamp in coral

 

The Gourd lamp is the latest shape in my collection of  handmade ceramic lamps from Kri Kri Studio. This June they will debut at the dwell on design 2014 show in LA along with the VIT ceramics range of vases.

The form has a slightly irregular perfection, the result of being built up by hand using the coil and pinch technique. This method of construction also allows for traces of the artist’s touch to remain in the softly textured surface. Large, ripe and full of life, the form adds warmth to a room, especially in juicy coral-red. With each available color the personality and mood of the piece changes. Considered in gray, the Gourd lamp is feminine and elegant. However, in yellow it is positively buoyant! Jade green, taupe and Danish blue are also offered.

Creating this collection has been a refreshing change from producing my tableware. I feel I am returning to my roots as a sculptor and find that the lamps are a wonderful vehicle for expressing forms. They are also a pleasing way to combine art and functionality.

With a simple off white linen shade to compliment the hand drawn white stripes, the Gourd lamp stands 22″ tall x 15″ wide.