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Pinterest, Instagram And The Future Of Furniture Retail

POST WRITTEN BY

Beck Besecker

Co-founder and CEO of Marxent, the leader in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for homes, furniture and spaces.

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Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz and Google Image Search hold massive power when it comes to brand discovery and the formation of product preferences. Just ask direct-to-consumer furniture companies like Article, Maiden Home and Interior Define.The influence of lifestyle imagery on purchase behavior is stunning. According to Pinterest (via SocialMediaToday), 83% of all women in the United States ages 25-54 visit Pinterest. Of that total, 43% of those visits are related to purchases for the home within the next five years.

This endless stream of inspirational photos is easily curated by consumers into boards or lists that illustrate the idea of a perfect kitchen, a perfect living room, a perfect lifestyle, a perfect future.

The new ‘location, location, location’ is personalization

It’s true that physical location still matters. Retailers have to be where the eyeballs are, but those eyeballs are increasingly on Instagram and Pinterest searching photos that illustrate the possibilities, seed ideas and help refine their tastes. How do these images translate into sales? Good question.

Photos provide inspiration, but what shoppers really want is to explore how the products featured in photos fit into their lives. In most cases, that means advanced personalization — the tailoring of the experience to the individual customer. It’s one reason my company created Photo to Floorplan, a design method which allows shoppers to look at an inspirational photo, tap on the items they like and have them instantly populate the floor plan of their real-world space.

The use of high-quality visual content translates into sales. For example, Pinterest reports (via AdWeek) that people who engage with Promoted Pins spend seven times more than people who don’t. But what comes after inspiration? Instagram recently introduced a feature that lets users buy the items seen in photos, and Pinterest Pins and Instagram posts can now be curated and made shoppable with platforms like Curalate. That’s a good start but it’s only the beginning.

The answer is clear: Let shoppers design from photos and give them the power to control the journey.

Inspiration is where purchases start, not where they end

We all know that vertical visual search engines like Zillow, Houzz and Pinterest are helping shoppers to envision their perfect future before they ever enter a store. I’ve used this technology myself, and I’m assuming most of you have as well. In a recent study conducted by MFour Mobile Research (via AP News), “Two-thirds of millennials prefer to research significant purchases online.”

The natural next step for complex kitchen and home projects is to translate inspirational photos into relevant, personalized designs. This can be as easy as selecting a style profile, finding a photo or collection of photos that resonate and adding the items from the photos directly into a custom floor plan.

Traditional visual merchandising and photos both leave users with questions like “will it fit?” or “will it work?” Inspirational photos on their own do the same. That’s why owning the design phase has long been the holy grail for furniture and kitchen retailers — it is essential to clinching the sale and reducing returns.

Examples of companies already using high-quality visual content and translating it into sales include Ikea, whose Ikea Place app allows shoppers to place 3D products in their homes via augmented reality, and Macy’s (a Marxent partner), which is using an in-store 3D room planner and virtual reality showroom installation to sell furniture.

What comes next?

Inspirational shopping trends extend far outside the world of furniture, with 3D visualization tech now in use in fashion, beauty, apparel and more. Zara, Nordstrom, Gap, Sephora and others are experimenting with visual virtual try-on and shopping services. Ben and Jerry’s is deconstructing their flavor profiles with gorgeous Instagram posts. Nike is taking a more wide-ranging approach, using augmented reality to not only offer virtual try-on services but to create exclusive, geo-targeted shopping experiences. And across the pond, French fashion house Balmain is using CGI models — in this case, computer-generated people depicted wearing the brand’s fashions — to market clothing.

With shopping journeys now more likely to start and end on mobile devices instead of in stores, designing directly from photos is a great way to give the customer control of the process. Augmented and virtual reality are taking these shoppers from inspiration to action.

Allowing customers to unleash their creativity and ensure that they love their purchases through design by photo provides a new level of personalization through inspiration. Major retailers that want to preserve their edge both online and in stores are using it to deliver the combination of inspiration and personalization that consumers crave.

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John Edelman Steps Down As CEO of Design Within Reach

Interior Design‘s Cindy Allen and John Edelman. Photography by Ben Meyers.

Design Within Reach (DWR) has announced that its CEO, John Edelman, will be stepping down from his position, effective June 14. He will eventually transition to become the Chairman of the Board of DWR and Herman Miller Consumer. His longtime business partner of 27 years, John McPhee, will stay on as the company’s president. 

Edelman’s design-centric career began in the 1990s, when he joined his brother Sam at his shoe company Sam & Libby. He eventually left to assist his design luminary parents, Teddy and Arthur Edelman, with their business. He became president of the brand in 2001 and eventually sold the iconic leather company to Knoll for $67 million in 2007. It was in 2010 that DWR serendipitously came calling. 

In just four years, Edelman and McPhee brought the company back from death. “It was on the verge of bankruptcy when we took it on,” Edelman recalled. “By 2014, we doubled the size of the business and halved the number of stores down to 35. The company became incredibly profitable.” 

The natural next step to assure DWR’s continued rousing success was to find a partner whose aesthetic would naturally complement DWR’s modernist approach and business acumen would propel the brand to new heights. And that partner was Herman Miller. “With this partnership, we assured the longevity of our brand and formed an indelible link with one of the most prestigious design companies in the world,” Edelman said. 

Read more: Herman Miller Agrees to Aquire Design Within Reach

With this powerhouse behind DWR, it could start on the work that it’s become famous for: partnering and promoting some of the most exciting brands in the industry. Even just a small, hand-picked selection of names are quite impressive: Hay, Moooi, J.L. Møllers, Brown Jordan, Luceplan, and Gloster. “I’m so proud of all the amazing designers and manufacturers we’ve worked with,” said Edelman. “DWR played such a large role in making modern design mainstream through the designers we chose to partner with and the more than 10 million catalogs we sent out that contain their stories. We helped break them out of the sheltered world of interior design and into the vast consumer market.”

When asked what’s changed the most in the past nine years, Edelman points to the rise of the Internet and E-commerce. The advent of Pinterest, Instagram, and easy access to designers through websites and email has made it easier for the consumer to become passionate and educated about design. The one thing that Edelman believes hasn’t changed? The enduring excellence of modernist aesthetics. “Modern isn’t a trend. It’s forever,” he noted. 

As for his future, Edelman continued: “It’s been an incredible 20 years being a part of this industry, but I’ve been on a plane nearly every other week since 1988. I plan to take a little time off, but I’m not leaving forever. There’s still so much to see and do with design.” 

Read more: Jens Risom Sketches Are Brought to Life in Design With Reach’s Block Island Collection

The Intrinsic Need for Healthy and Sustainable Materials

04.08.2019

Carolyn Ames Noble

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The built environment accounts for over two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In the majority of the places we live, work and play, research has realized that indoor air quality is more polluted than the outdoors, even in the largest industrialized metropolitan areas. This is cause for concern because humans spend over 90% of our time indoors.

The case for healthy and sustainable materials in this time of turbulent climate change is ubiquitous. Sustainable materials help reduce carbon emissions and nurture the overall health of the planet. Harmoniously, healthy materials produce meaningful eudemonia to the inhabitants of the space.


WasteBasedBrick Composition, StoneCycling

These types of holistic spaces are vital, fundamental to the health and equity of humans and to the health of the planet. There’s also an intrinsic and perhaps even a philosophical need for these materials in our dwellings. In the future, perhaps these materials should become the baseline for all building projects.

A Look at Organizations

There are many admirable organizations that support healthy and sustainable design philosophies, included and not limited to:

McLennan Leaves His Handprint on Sustainable Design

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American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), founded in 1975, champions that “design impacts lives” and uses evidence-based design and research to demonstrate how.

USGBC began its LEED program mission in 1993. Twenty-six years later, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI), founded in 2009, defines its mission to make communities socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. The ILFI’s Living Product Challenge is a philosophy first, advocacy tool and product certification program that defines the most advanced measures of sustainability in product manufacturing today. The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called Petals:

  • Place
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Health and happiness
  • Materials
  • Equity
  • Beauty

Launched in 2014 after years of extensive research and development across disciplines, the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) strives to revolutionize the way people think about buildings. It explores how design, operations and behaviors within the places where we live, work, learn and play can be optimized to advance human-health and wellbeing. IWBI offers the WELL certification program focused on seven guiding concepts:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Nourishment
  • Light
  • Fitness
  • Comfort
  • Mind

The mission for viable buildings starts with the people, processes and products that comprise them.

The Product: A Cascade for Sustainability

Wall finish and flooring selections are fundamental on the six planes of interior selections. Paint color is appointed perfectly with coatings like Sherwin-Williams Harmony, which was a green industry-first in 2001. Harmony meets the most stringent VOC regulations and has achieved GREENGUARD Gold Certification satisfying LEED v4 v4.1 criteria. Its additional qualities of odor-eliminating and formaldehyde-reducing technologies help improve indoor air quality by reducing VOCs from possible sources such as cabinets, carpets and fabrics.

 

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Regarding color for spaces of vitality and retreat alike, Emily Kantz, interior designer at the Sherwin-Williams Company, recommends the following palettes:

“The Electric Exploration palette features the striking Rivulet, Rejuvenate and Izmir Purple. These colors bring energy and life into the space. The Off the Grid palette is a breath of fresh air with the nature inspired colors of Almond Roca, Copper Mountain and Cascades, bringing the earthy elements of the great outdoors inside to give us a sense of health and well-being.”

Mohawk Group has a suite of Living Product Challenge Petal-certified flooring including:

  • Lichen carpet plank
  • Nutopia carpet plank
  • Nutopia Matrix carpet Plank
  • Sunweave broadloom/area rug
  • Pivot Point enhanced resilient tile


Mohawk Group SmartFlower Installation, Mohawk Group

Representative of the Living Product Challenge, Sunweave’s Petal Certification aims to leave a handprint rather than a footprint. Mohawk Group engaged in a special handprinting partnership with Groundswell to install 10 SmartFlower solar systemsin underserved communities and at educational institutions with STEM programs across the U.S.

George Bandy Jr., chief sustainability officer at Mohawk Flooring North America, considers the designer’s role expanded well beyond the typical project scope to being the connector between carbon and social change. He asks, “How can the designer bring the enormity of the climate change issue to each individual client and make it personally relevant?”

He considers his own place in the design industry as CSO not as a career pinnacle, but instead part of a greater journey that began in the 1990s at the University of Texas – Houston. He served as the Chairman of the USGBC and worked alongside Ray Anderson at Interface before joining Mohawk Group three years ago.

At Mohawk, Bandy also sees himself as the connector – in his case, connecting the dots between the internal and external product creation, between the industry and the community. He envisions the product as a cascade for sustainability, utilizing sustainable practicesthroughout manufacturing, and leaving a lasting, positive social impact on the communities where Mohawk plants are located.

Waste Reimagined

Striving for a circular economy, designers have reimagined, repurposed and reused what was supposed to be waste. A category of new and innovative composites from plastics and other discarded materials has been invented. Foresso is such a composite: a sheet material composed of timber and wood waste from sawmills.

Conor Taylor, creative director at Foresso, says, “We consider ourselves very lucky to get to work with timber every day, the richness of wood adds warmth to interiors and can make any space more welcoming. Nowadays it is hugely important to consider the sustainability of our work so we endeavor to use every part of the tree in Foresso and hope that by doing so we can encourage others to make the most of this incredible material.”


Foresso Charcoal Mono Detail, Foresso

Tom van Soest and Ward Massa founded StoneCycling in the Netherlands in 2013, their shared vision that the need for reimagined waste products was also the opportunity. They created a building material whose main input is the waste output from construction sites, which massively pollute the earth. Their product, WasteBasedBricks, which as an early prototype was conceived in a homemade industrial blender, has evolved – and their circular and sustainable products are being used across Europe and the U.S.


Ward Massa + Tom van Soest, StoneCycling

Also a product of the Netherlands, the tulip may be the single most iconic image from the region. In fact, 77% of the world’s tulips come from this small country of 12 provinces, comprising for roughly two billion tulips. “Strangely, the most beautiful part of the flower, the head, has no economic value except being a coveted photo object of many a tourist,” says Tjeerd Veenhoven of Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. By a process of extraction from what would be the waste residual of the dried flower head, pigment is distilled. Color is a wonder in this artisanal process, and applications range from uses in finger paint to biological plastics.


Tulip Pigments, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Mother Nature Engineered

In the quest to save Mother Nature, nature itself is investigated and replicated. Bolt Threads developed Microsilk after studying the silk spun by spiders and produced their own protein. Whereas 60% of fabric fibers are petroleum based, Microsilk is generated mostly of sugar. Bolt Threads has partnered with iconic brands such Patagonia and Stella McCartney. The company currently doesn’t have any specific plans for the interior design material industry, though the brand is excited about what the future holds and will continue to introduce new materials for a more sustainable world.


Bolt Threads Necktie, Bolt Threads

Renee Hytry Derrington, vice president and global design lead at Formica Corporation, reports of the company that the past several years, Formica has introduced a suite of sustainability décor-based products including Reclaimed Denim Fiber and Paper Terrazzo patterns. Reclaimed Denim Fiber is real reclaimed denim fiber made from post-production waste collected at cloth production mills, embedded in paper. No one sheet is alike due to the natural papermaking process, which will be seen as a slight linear direction to the laminate sheet. Paper Terrazzo utilizes small fragments of post-production solid color paper that would otherwise have gone to waste. These paper chips are re-used to create a new paper sheet that is 30 percent reclaimed material. This paper technique uses small-batch craft production so that each sheet is unique and natural.

Bio-based plastics are forecasted to be a $35B business by 2022. Corn starch, sugar, cooking oil and even waste avocado stones are re-engineered for use in this material category. Algae and fungi-created materials will continue to bloom in use and scale. And designers continue seeking solutions reimaging the ultimate waste product – carbon – itself.

“In the future, healthy and sustainability materials will be considered the standard and not called out as special or unique. This will be the result of product designers reusing and reducing waste, considering the human interface and thinking about the environment during the design process,” predicts Hytry Derrington.

Next Up: Creating Unique Glass Lighting Fixtures | NCAA Final “Floor” for the Final Four Revealed

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2017’s top social media marketing lessons

In a year, much has changed on social media networks. Facebook spent much of 2017 revamping its Trending section to squelch fake news. Instagram fared much better — as the company continued to celebrate the success of Instagram Stories (and the decline of Snapchat).

As you’re planning for 2018, dedicate time to analyze your own brand’s social strategy and see the changes for yourself. While you’re at it, keep in mind these 2017 social media marketing trends that show no sign of slowing down.

1. Organic reach continues to plummet for brands and publishers on Facebook

After analyzing 880 million Facebook posts, the average engagement rate for brands and publishers has dropped 20 percent in 2017. That impact is compounded because SocialFlow research found the overall reach per post from January through May of 2016 was 42 percent less than 2015. Yikes.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Facebook did a test and moved all non-ad posts from Pages in the News Feed to Facebook’s new Explore feed in six countries. As you would guess, Pages received four times less engagement and lost up to 75 percent of their reach.

Companies are having to spend more and more to reach their core audience on Facebook. Keep that in mind as you plan for 2018.

2. Images and videos, coupled with fewer words, continue to reign (except on Twitter).

While engagement with links and images suffered the most this year on Facebook, video engagement held strong. Videos on Facebook now have, on average, double the engagement rate of other content types.

To optimize interactions, post videos between 60 and 90 seconds — or broadcast 15-minute live videos.

As visual continues to dominate social, Facebook posts at or below 50 characters have the most engagement. But Twitter has challenged that trend. This year, Twitter expanded their character count from 140 to 280.

3. Raw, authentic video and content, like Instagram Stories, win.

Instagram Stories have been the runaway hit of 2017. Launched in August of 2016, Instagram Stories had more than 250 million daily active users as of August 2017. Those under the age of 25 spend more than 32 minutes per day on Instagram, on average, while those 25 and older spend more than 24 minutes daily.

In short, Stories has become the reason to use Instagram. That’s why 50 percent of businesses have now created a story. Often, the unedited content that captures real-life outperforms the pristine photos uploaded to Instagram itself.

In 2018, budget more time to create Stories like these that are proven to perform. They’re what your audience most wants! Plus, Instagram Stories will continue to become a bigger player in 2018.

4. Be transparent about paid promotions and brand sponsorships on social media.

While less fun than the other trends, this is a major lesson for brands this year and in 2018.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent out nearly 100 warning letters to celebrities, cracking down on their social media endorsement policy. The policy states that if there is a “material connection an endorser and an advertiser, that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.”

Encourage those in your influencer marketing programs to follow FTC recommendations, which means including clear tags like #sponsored or #ad in the first three lines of copy while avoiding ambiguous tags like #sp or #thankyou altogether. Or use this intuitive Instagram feature, which adds a paid partnership tag to posts.

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THIS RESTAURANT OFFERS DINERS INSTAGRAM KITS TO HELP NAIL THE ULTIMATE #FOODIE SNAP

Nailing that perfect Instagram shot of your food in a restaurant is no mean feat.

Ashamedly, a quick discussion around the ELLE office has revealed many of us have been guilty of preventing a partner from touching their hot chocolate before we snapped a photograph, and even considered standing on a chair to capture that hawk-eye shot of a particularly lovely-looking eggs Benedict.
Oh, and believe us, we’re totally aware of how sickeningly close this reality is to “Black Mirror.”

However, one London restaurant is now coming to Instagram-obsessed diners’ rescue and helping them up their #foodporn a notch.

London based eatery Dirty Bones is offering customers free Instagram kits that include a portable LED camera light, a multi-device charger, a clip-on wide angle camera lens and a tripod selfie stick for overhead table shots, so they can achieve those likable snaps.

A spokesperson for Dirty Bones, which offers customers New York-style American comfort food, explained to Mashable: “People love to share what they’re eating on social media, so we wanted to put together something that made it easier to get that perfect shot regardless of the lighting or time of day.”

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Create a brand personality people fall in love with on social

Want more likes, followers and engagement on your company’s social media pages? Then, you need three things: gorgeous (on-brand) pictures, the right personality and an eagerness to socialize.
In short, you need to cultivate a strategic brand personality and then bring it to life by connecting with your followers.

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