A design goes through series of stages from the inception of an idea to the implementation. The by product is a result of various learning’s made during the design process. My design journey so far has been somewhat similar and is reflected in the company I founded recently called wemakelove (WML)-the design store and the design factory.
WML is a theme based webstore for design originals, gift ideas and creative finds. Products are carefully curated on the basis of a theme. These themes are based on occasions and festivals and may change as quickly as festivals in India. It has been almost two months since we launched WML and we have released two collections already.
We launched in July with Raksha Bandhan, where the store was filled with eclectic rakhi bands, and in the month of August we launched India-ness, celebrating the art and culture through a series of books and notebooks.
The theme sets a guideline for what is to be curated and we start our hunt for cool designs. We scour designer workshops, ransack vintage markets and travel to far flung places to find fun, loving and unique objects. We are always hungry and on a lookout so our visitors can see something exciting on the store throughout the year.
Products that excite us are the ones that are playful in terms of their usage, exciting in terms of shapes, form and use of materials, but most importantly the ones that tell a story. Mooch comb is one such example. Mooch is a handlebar mustache shaped pocket comb handcrafted in ebony wood and packaged in a paper wallet. It is crafted by Nathu Singh who works from Bijnor, UP, which is a fun coincidence. Another such example is the rakhi band collection that we launched in collaboration with NH7. A textile firm in Jaipur who developed rakhis out of left over fabrics from their past collections.
The website design process is highly iterative. It alternates activities dedicated to the refinement of the interface, navigation and technical requirements/implications. We know that categories, filtering options and other such variables will change over time by understanding customer needs so it goes without saying that the website design had to be kept flexible. Two major factors, however, govern the design of the website – focus on products and easy navigation. The look and feel of the site is kept fairly basic and flexible so that it can accommodate a makeover every time a new theme is introduced.
Our job doesn’t end virtually; we also extend our services with a similar passion till the product reaches the recipient. While developing our packaging we have taken into account the reaction of the customer while receiving the product and opening it.
Through our products and service we want our customers to order two sets: one for themselves and the other to bestow to someone special. Currently gift pack and shipping is absolutely free on all the products, this might change if we were to launch personalize gift packing solutions which is under debate at the moment.
The webstore is supported by a parallel activity that I like to call WML design factory. The factory enables us to collaborate with designers and artisans to co-create unique products exclusively for our webstore. The collaborations have been very organic: the idea may have come from us but executed by someone with the right skill sets or the other way round where the designer proposes an idea and we help in executing it, producing it and selling it.
We have so far collaborated with a fashion designer, a stylist, a graphic design studio and individual artisans. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach to design is key to us because I believe this is the way to churn out products that are truly innovative and develops our ability to set trends. We are putting this approach into action in our next theme called “Green Diwali” which is to be launched in October.
There is a lot of excitement about Diwali because we are launching gifting solutions that will compel visitors to send out gifts even if they have stopped doing so. The lineup includes greeting cards that incorporate Braille as design language, gifts that grow, lights and candles in unique form and shapes in collaboration with design studios like Indus, Double Decker, NH8 and organic connect.
WML realizes the need to open up the design factory through various means and media so that we can engage an ever growing community in our design process. While we are focused online I also feel that it is very important for the products to be touched and experienced at least once. To balance the online experience with a physical one, we are starting road shows across India. We are setting up popup stores in Delhi and Banglore in October 12 in collaboration with NH7 Weekender. I am very curious to see how people react to the products in touch.