While Eames, Le Corbusier and Saarinen will always be found within the SKUs at DWR, the contemporary design retailer takes pride in identifying emerging talents as well. With the unveiling of its 2018 Collection earlier this month, DWR introduced exclusive models from Jeffrey Bernett and Nicholas Dodziuk, Note Design Studio, Nathan Yong, Gabriel Tan, Egg Collective and more. Rounding out the fresh designs are modernist revivals from legends Vico Magistretti, Nils Strinning, Gio Ponti and Louis Weisdorf.
But what the new collection doesn’t reveal is the process that went into curating the top-notch roster of designers. That’s where Noah Schwarz comes in. As DWR’s director of merchandising, he leads the product development team’s extensive search for talent. Schwarz took a break from his trade-show-to-trade-show travels to tell us about the creatives behind the new collection, where he’s searching for potential partners and the one trait that all DWR designers have in common.
What do you look for in a DWR design partner?
DWR is fortunate to collaborate with many of the brightest designers working today, each with their own design process. No single quality makes someone a good fit for a partnership with DWR, rather it’s their unique combination of talents and ideas that attract us—from the craftsperson working in a small cabinet shop to an accomplished design studio using the latest technology. The common component is a sincere passion for design.
Where are you looking for potential design partners?
We’re proud to have established connections with designers from around the world. The DWR merchandising and product development teams visit numerous design fairs, scouting for great designers exhibiting in cities including Milan, Cologne, Tokyo, Stockholm and Paris. We love collaborating both with design legends and the best undiscovered young designers working today. We’ve met future DWR designers at furniture trade shows around the world, and occasionally sitting beside us at our local pub.
How does the new class of designers featured in DWR’s 2018 Collection differ from others you’ve worked with in the past?
DWR has long been known as the single best resource for iconic 20th-century classic designs in North America. The extensive group of young and talented designers we're working with today have a new voice. They, too, respect, and draw influence from, the history of modern design—though with a unique perspective, working to answer the needs of today.
What excites you most about how modern design is evolving?
I believe design is currently experiencing a renaissance, sparked by the fluid sharing of ideas and images—similar to the remarkable proliferation of “foodie” culture over the past 15 years. People seem to be truly taking interest in the value of design, the positive influence of surrounding oneself with well-considered, beautiful objects, and a departure from the disposable furniture culture of the past few decades.