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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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!

wild sweet peas

vit ceramics, set of 3, bud vases, budvases

Found roaming the wilds of Aurora Avenue in Seattle, home of Kri Kri Studio.
Vibrant magenta blossoms invade the weeds this this time of year thriving in an environment that seems to provide little assistance. Bringing them in adds life to still shots of bud vases. Must remember: I am shooting vases, not flowers. Natures beauty far surpasses my simple pieces. Yet they do have their place. Now a pink glow radiates from this cluster of vases brightening my day.

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.