DwellStudio’s design team recently returned from a sourcing trip to Vietnam. The team, which includes designer Natalie Hirsh, associate design director Brian FitzSimmons, and senior designer Danielle Spector, travels to Asia two to four times each year to review samples of new products with their Vietnam-based factory. The group shared with EAL the trends and takeaways from their trip.
The team is in an ongoing process of design, sketching and reviewing full-scale drawings, and sometimes making small models of their products throughout the year. “Seeing designs built in their final materials, reviewing finishes and selecting hardware together with our factories is a key piece of the puzzle of creating exciting and innovating designs for DwellStudio!” explains Hirsh.
The visit also enables the designers to experience the product in a new light. “It is one thing to see the transformation from sketch to technical drawing, but getting in front of a design the moment after it has been built really gives you a different perspective,” says Hirsh. “So many questions are immediately answered, and the reviews always bring up so many things that are hard to anticipate on paper.”
Spector concurs, saying of the process, “We always start from a unique concept or idea—often vintage inspired—then translate that to paper or sketch, and lastly, we work closely with the factories to turn our visions into reality. Getting to travel to Asia to work hands-on with the artisans who craft our product is truly a rare and invaluable experience for a designer. The in-person design review meetings allow us to make quick and meaningful decisions on the prototypes, and more importantly, I always walk away feeling so much more informed about manufacturing processes and better equipped to design future DwellStudio furniture collections.”
The visit is also a source of inspiration, Hirsh explains, citing a new piece of machinery or finishes and materials (such as a new white marble they later used in their Baldwin Dining Table) that they spotted throughout the factory. “We find inspiration everywhere—in fashion, movies, architecture, travel—and the team’s varying points of view coming together is always bringing us to unexpected places!” says Hirsh. “The relationships we have built with our overseas partners just adds another layer onto this process and helps take our designs to the next level. Learning about their capabilities, how our products are built, and their strengths as craftspeople allows them to be even more integrated into our design process and informs the way we think about designing.”