Our Vice President of Product Development & Design Pamela Bailey has been interviewed several times recently about her expertise in PD and what she has been seeing in stylistic trends. She has been asked some thought-provoking questions that we wanted to share with the Currey & Company blog readers. Today, we’re following along as she discusses aesthetics and what’s trending. Soon, we will feature her discussing how product development has changed since the pandemic has become part of our lives.
Insights on Product Development from Pamela Bailey
Q: Do you think designers tend to gravitate toward styles that are a little more neutral?
PB: While we are certainly seeing strong interest in designs with clean lines and natural materials that fit into neutral environments, we are also seeing a strong interest our unique classic designs and statement pieces in our customers’ projects.
Q: Do you think lighting preferences vary by region or by demographic (i.e. age)?
PB: We do see differences across the country. While many of our products made of natural materials like abaca, wicker, shells, rope, or sea glass sell strongest in coastal states and for mountain or lakeside homes, they are also specified for projects where clients want natural references in urban settings.
Scale matters, so we offer multiple size options so that someone can use a fixture in an apartment or a 5000-square-foot home. People are craving clean lines that are simple but not simplistic. Our contemporary designs are selling extremely well for modern settings and are being inserted into traditional settings as an interesting & unexpected juxtaposition. In terms of generational appeal, our designs resonate across all generations. There are colors and finishes that have strong Millennial appeal while other generations may be drawn to more classic finishes, and we consider that when selecting finishes for our designs and try to have something for everyone.
Q: What are some of the principles that designers could incorporate when making lighting selections for a residential project?
PB: When I first joined Currey & Company, I spent a year in our showrooms and worked with designers every day. By the time a designer enters one of our showrooms (or visits our website), they know what they need in terms of scale (they understand the ceiling height and whether a Semi-flush might be better than a chandelier for a specific project.) Designers choose to visit us to find the unexpected at Currey & Company, to discover new materials or see our new introductions. But what I learned most from our designer clientele was that they return because of Currey & Company’s service and quality; they know we adhere to the strictest of safety standards (all of our lighting fixtures are UL approved). They know that our designs are original and that if on the rare occasion that something doesn’t go as expected, we always make it right for the client. We value that the design community puts their trust in us when specifying our products because their reputation is on the line, so we must have their backs! Our sales reps and showroom managers take great care to point out the characteristics of the materials we use so all expectations are managed. (No two oyster shells are alike!)
Q: Does outdoor lighting continue to grow for your company? What are some of the trends or advances you’ve noticed going on in the outdoor lighting category?
PB: Outdoor living areas and dining areas are increasing in sophistication and as we emerge from the pandemic, outdoor entertaining is where people feel most comfortable entertaining guests. Yes, the category is strong and we are making a concerted effort to increase our outdoor lighting options.
Q: What is the starting point when your designers begin to develop a lighting product?
PB: We always start our seasonal development cycles with a trend presentation from our Vice President/Creative Director Cecil Adams, which covers style, color, materials, and living, working and entertaining predictions. Often our designers are inspired by historical references and we have an extensive design library full of fashion, jewelry, art and, architecture books. We attend the Paris and Milan shows when we can. Often, we are inspired by the artisans and crafts people with whom we source our products. Sometimes we might see a form or material that inspires us to design an accent table or a lamp base right on the spot. Those unexpected creative bursts keep us motivated.
Q: How does the type of light bulb that will be used, affect how your designers might approach product design?
PB: At Currey & Company, we consider the light bulb as an extension of the design and not an afterthought. It is considered and specified as the technical drawings are created, as there is no point in making a gorgeous design where you can’t wire it attractively or change the bulb easily.
Q: What are some of the advances you’ve seen recently in light bulb technology, and how have these evolutions (and consumer preferences) impacted design or helped you take more creative liberties in lighting design?
PB: LED is probably the area where we’ve seen the most advancement. LED bulbs and integrated LED technology keep improving. The color quality, warmth and dimmable options keep increasing in availability for the consumer. The smaller-sized bulbs give us additional room in our designs that we didn’t have in the past.
Q: Is energy efficiency still something discussed when it comes to lighting, and does efficiency come solely from the light bulb or are there measures taken in the fixture itself that can help make a light source more energy efficient?
PB: LED light bulbs have been a game changer in energy savings and in product development. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to find LED bulbs that emit warm light. (Many folks still cringe when they hear LED because they think of the harsh blue light from years ago when they were first introduced.) Much of today’s advancement in bulb technology has quieted the discussions of lighting efficiencies in our industry. However, we are very aware of the ongoing demands to be better and reduce our overall carbon footprints. We therefore, continue to make every effort to advance the technology in our own product line. We are currently working with many new advances in low-voltage components to create solutions to these needs; as well as advanced sealed systems which can utilize 120V power. We are also making sure we meet all the requirements of individual state compliance legislation as well as safety standards. We are trying to create quality products which will give our customers peace of mind and at a value they can trust.
Q: What about in lamp/light fixture materials: what are some of the most interesting developments happening these days in materials used for the bases, hardware, shades?
PB: We love to use materials that tell a story—about the artisan, the location, or the inspiration. Where Currey & Company really shines is in their use of materials, whether crystals, selenite, recycled glass, beads… Since we manufacture both overseas and in our Atlanta facility we are able to marry components imported from different countries to create a truly unique product.
Q: What are some of the ways commercial and residential lighting design differ… as well as how do they cross over? Which sector follows which in terms of trends?
PB: Resi-mercial is a term I’ve heard over the past few years. Prior to the pandemic, while traveling or dining, if we found ourselves at a beautiful restaurant or hotel bar, we would marvel at the furniture or lighting and want to bring some of those elements into our homes. We’ve seen a casual elegant approach to hospitality—especially in co-working spaces. An obvious difference is scale. We have a line of extra-large chandeliers that is popular with our hospitality customers. We’ve translated some of these designs into smaller sizes for residences.
A Peek Behind the Curtain
Though our company is composed of people who live their lives steeped in the subject of design and product development, it is always fascinating to hear the points of view of different professionals in our Currey & Company community, and we’d like to thank Pam for giving us a proverbial peek behind the curtain when it comes to how our design team thinks and how products we bring to market are developed. One of the reporters who interviewed Pam was Jessica Goldbogen Harlan. You can find her article in i + D magazine. Summer officially begins on Sunday: we are wishing sunny days for everyone!