Who what how

On the occasion of the release of CUTE cups, Tomas Erel, Creative Director of Designerbox, slows down a bit and takes a moment for a coffee to enlighten us on the origin of this project and more generally on what moves the large Designerbox family.

Both for its own products, like the CUTE cups, or for the products sold in its creators’ shop by other labels or makers, Designerbox insists on craft manufacture in Europe. Is this an ideological choice or are there other reasons?

To be frank, it’s not so much an aesthetic choice, it was just obvious. When you start a small firm like ours, your first instinct is to look first to your immediate surroundings and then near to you. Thus, the idea of proximity is just imposed on you quite naturally. To secure reasonable production costs, we have of course had to develop over the years a network of magnificent small and mid-sized craft firms. If we have a glass product, there are many ways to bring it into being, many different kinds of glass. So each time, we have to find the right people: the right craftsperson and also the right designer. It’s in the designer’s intelligence, the way he or she uses a technique, a material, that you locate an important element in an object’s economic equation. And also, producing something as close to home as possible and with a short supply circuit – that is, with a limited number of intermediaries – allows us to be lean, to avoid over-production by producing on demand, and to keep prices attractive. Everyone wins: consumers, manufacturers and creators. And as a by-product we also lessen our carbon footprint.


So how do you choose your manufacturers?

In many cases, we set out from the desire for an object, from a type of project or from the material, then we choose a designer not only for their creativity but also according to the knowledge and understanding he or she has of the manufacturing process. It’s about who can think about the object most effectively. Design is about transcending the material and sometimes even pushing the limits of it beyond what is reasonable. This process allows us to move very fast and not to waste time with repeated attempts and with comings and goings that also impact on the cost of manufacture. It’s this that also allows us to continue to manufacture in Europe with its rich vein of fabulous craftspeople.

In the case of the CUTE cups, you developed them in-house at Designerbox, where normally you reach out to other designers for your boxes. Why is this?

Designerbox’s mission is to showcase the wealth of global creativity. Each edition is therefore the chance to tell a story: that of a creator, that of their skills, that of a theme. Each designer is normally chosen for the uniqueness of their approach – it’s what legitises him or her in some sense. We recently expanded our product development team with the addition of designer Aurélie Henry, who trained at Nantes design school before gaining experience at Elium Studio and Louis Vuitton. The aim was to enrich our offerings destined for the workplace. Among the list of products we decided on was coffee cups. This cup became for us a true office accessory in its own right. It follows us everywhere all through the day, into our shared or solo breaks, into our meetings... We wanted to share this project, this moment, with our community.


The manufacture of CUTES cups by Designer Box


On that topic, how is Designerbox set up? How many of you are there?

Beyond the creation of our objects, Designerbox has a team covering all the roles linked to our many activities, from logistics to production, customer services and industry services. People often think it’s a larger firm, but it’s not... There are around 10 of us, each with his or her precise role. Today it’s a rather well-oiled machine, but that’s come about over the years and as a result of the projects we’ve carried out. This size allows us to react very quickly and evolve constantly. But Designerbox is also a large family with a close circle of loyal partners such as the staff of our ESAT (place of assisted employment for handicapped persons) in Evreux, the integration centre that assembles each of our boxes, the Ich&Kar and Paris-Telex agencies for our magazines, and the PR agencies 14septembre and Sparkling... The list is long, but of course all of them play their part in the evolution of Designerbox.

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