4 MIN READ
I founded my studio in the centre of Vienna with Wolfgang Kosak in 1988 straight after graduating from the Spengergasse Textile Design school here in the city. We started designing for fashion fabrics and gift-wrap, creating patterns that were hand painted on paper.
Now – in addition to the flatter, traditional, two dimensional print designs – we also create designs that are more like prototypes of constructed and woven fabrics,
When we started out, Europe was still at the forefront of textile production, but, as the focus of the production began to move, we worked on building our reputation with clients in Japan, China, Korea, Turkey and in particular the US, which, through gradually focusing our product more and more, has become our main market base.
Although when Max Lambertini and Luca Peroni, the guys who came up with the idea of stonefree.design approached us, we had no online platform or website of our own, we had already begun to feel the need to change our marketing strategy. Trade fairs have always been a major part of how we reach the worldwide markets with our collection, but times are changing, even before Covid-19 happened, and the speed of change has definitely accelerated since.
Over the last four or five years, customer presence at the shows diminished, it’s something that we all took note of. The shows themselves, before the invention of stonefree.design, represented the only opportunity for design studios to present their faces to a global clientele.
Studios will get dressed up for the trade fairs, show their latest collection and present themselves as unique sources for the best designs to their favourite clients. More importantly, through the shows, we all get the unique chance of exposure towards the section of unknown clients visiting the fair from around the world. If you don’t participate in the collective show, you miss that opportunity. This is one of the reasons that I believe stonefree.design is the answer for our industry, the way forward into the future.
Many studios have their own websites, their own online store, but they rest alone, waiting for the client to visit them. stonefree.design is an online, permanent show that we all need to be part of; one stop, one space where a client can see as much as they want to, no travelling, no navigating, and with no sore feet. Just imagine sitting in a hotel room on your own with a case of designs waiting for clients with a trade fair across the street. Of course, your faithful client will stop by… but who’s looking over there in the show? You will never know if you stay there on your own.
The attendance at fairs has been affected by many things over the years; transport strikes, exchange rates, terrorist threats, travel expense cuts and last but not least, the world changing virus that has impacted us all, making the idea of stonefree.design a clear alternative to the industries needs, answered until now by the trade fairs.
I treat my clients in a very personal way. Part of the joy of being in this business, if not of being a human being, is the interaction with my client. The online revolution that stonefree.design is part of will need to be backed up with that personal interaction that is so important to the way the design world communicates with its clients. I don’t think it can do without it. So, I ask myself, how can I do this? How can I keep that designer/client relationship alive, in a human sense? I really don’t believe it’s going to be a problem.
stonefree.design will become my sales team. I’m going to be saving time and money through this way of selling my designs, and, at the same time, my client will reap the same benefit. So, time, the most precious resource, can be invested into cultivating that equally precious relationship. I can concentrate on providing those clients with a personalized product just for them. I’ll have time to visit them more often, or zoom meet them without necessarily having a case of designs to show because they can access them at any time, all the time. I realize that my studio through stonefree.design will need my help and professionality to function, but the whole industry must develop a different way to keep in touch.
Being a designer means being a part of design evolution, always thinking ahead, proposing a product that will be part of tomorrow, changing and developing constantly to present something different from today.
We are becoming accustomed to conducting a large part of our private and professional lives through the internet and we all know how consumer trends are demonstrating the migration of commerce towards the online channel.
I think that if we don’t accept that and evolve the way we do business we will ultimately be left behind by the train that’s already left the station. It’s time to get onboard!