Reardon talks design at ASFD dinner
April 9, 2014,
AT THE MARKET — A record number of American Society of Furniture Designers members and their guests attended a dinner presentation at the String & Splinter here on Monday to hear Jay Reardon, the former Hickory Chair president and current chairman of the executive committee for upholstery and case goods manufacturer Chaddock, talk about profitable design practices.
Richard Schroeder, left, Jay Reardon, John Conrad
Shirley Erath-Conrad, left, Pat Plaxico
Following a standing-room-only cocktail hour, ASFD executive director John Conrad and ASFD 2014-2015 President Richard Schroeder, vice president of design for Stanley Furniture, recognized Ian O’Hare, an Appalachian State University junior and the winner of ASFD’s Touching Lives by Design merit scholarship. After dinner, more than 80 attendees, including a number of college design students, listened as Reardon shared some of his experiences in the furniture industry.
Reardon said that designers should be mindful of the practicality of design and its role in the consumer’s life. He added that the furniture industry needs to do a better job of touting the importance of its product.
“As designers, we need to think about the end user,” Reardon said. “The value (of furniture) is not about the price we pay, but what something accomplishes for us. What is the experience of the people you are designing for?”
Reardon advised design students trying to enter the furniture industry to spend time getting to know their customers. He said that talking to the people responsible for making the furniture offers valuable insight into extending the brand.
“Talk to the craftspeople and ask them what it is they think they do better than their competition?” Reardon explained. “Understand the capabilities and competitive advantages of the company. Also, draw in CAD. In our business, more than 70% (of people) are visual learners.”
In the future, design will become even more important, Reardon said.
“The industry is being destroyed and commoditized, but parasites can’t sustain themselves without a host,” Reardon said, prompting an enthusiastic round of applause. “Come back with creative solutions and improve on existing products. That is creativity. That is design.”