Dimensions: A Question of Space and Time

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By Christel TrimbornMore from this author

80 x 120 cm is the size of the sales space per product that finds its way from the 'design:palette' to the customer. The dimensions within which selected articles of daily use are presented with high levels of design match the standardized size of a euro pallet that lends its name to the innovative sales forum in Essen, Germany.


Photo albums, lampshades, backgammon sets - at design:palette, every product is given sales space measuring 80 x 120 cm, matching the size of a euro pallet. In the background we see the bucket presentation '10 Liters of Design'

Design showrooms conceived in this way, examples including the Swedish Design Torget shops, which have been established for many years, or the aforementioned design:palette from Germany, are subject to a principle which is equally simple as it is ingenious: after paying a contribution to the costs, designers have the option for a certain period to have their products sold in the shops, almost without any personal risk. Without having to invest significantly in advertising, rent or distribution, they can use this option to test the market maturity and acceptance of their new ideas. Whereas the two Germans, Peter Marx and Oliver Schwan, managing directors of design: palette, are still in their swaddling clothes in the Zeche Zollverein in Essen, one of Germany's designated design centers, the Swedish colleagues are able to draw on a rich well of experience and many years of success. Founded in 1993 by the Swedish architect Jerry Hellstrom and since sold to the Axel Johnson Group, the business idea of a temporary presentation has long since become a fixed feature in Sweden Design-interested customers can find 'new, handpicked items, every week', as promised bythe Design Torget slogan, in more than ten Design Torget branches in Stockholm, Uppsala, Taby, Sickla, Gothenburg and Malmo. The choice of products, each of which are sold for a certain period, is subject to certain selection criteria: "Design Torget is a commercial market place for unique design, for customers and designers that value style, function and innovation. This is why we pick a selection of articles for everyday use, from established as well as unknown designers," is the message from Sweden. Whereas design:palette managing director Peter Marx would like to see greater affinity with the region in the products that are available in suitable unit numbers, the selection of objects for every use in Sweden concentrates on so-called 'soft' factor s in addition to the high quality standards and functional requirements: "We also look for those products that encourage or reflect new thinking, as well as being laced with some humor," say the Swedish managers. From a mouse pad in the form of a miniature oriental rug and multifunctional jewelry and a folding vase, customers looking for new and also unusual ideas find everything they could possibly wish for.

Multifunctional jewelry in Essen: Exchangeable metal labels (www.faibleforlabel.de) lend individuality to rings, chains and cufflinks

Cellphone in the pocket, receiver in the ear - the receiver designed by Nicolas Roope is created spe cifically for traditional cellphone users (from Design Torget)

The designer Ramin Chehrazi succeeded in satisfying three criteria for a successful product: his mouse pad in oriental rug look is imaginative, functional and humorous (from Design Torget)

Fast results

It is possible to check fairly quickly whether a designer has touched the signs of the times in terms of market acceptance for his or her ideas: drawing on the numerous items of work submitted, a jury based in Stockholm convenes on a weekly basis to decide which new products will be on offer in the shops, for how long they will be exhibited, based, as elsewhere no different, on customer demand. At Design Torget, there are products that remain on offer for several years due to the high level of demand, while others are culled after just a few weeks. The individual terms concerning the duration of lease, costs and selection criteria differ between Design Torget and design:palette in some points - but both ideas have in common the basic principle of including a changing variety of innovative products for their customers and a relatively riskless test of market acceptance for the designers. Another principle unites the two companies: the close cooperation with design schools - and therefore up and coming designers is an integral element of the business philosophy. For example, the Essen-based design:palette currently offers the Design Academy in Halle/ Giebichenstein a platform for its project '10 Liters of Design'. In white, backlit, plastic buckets, the objects created by the students are presented and offered for sale in a special area. In Sweden also, there have been various forms of cooperation with design schools such as Konstfack, Beckmans or HDK (The Berlin University of the Arts).



by Christel Trimborn

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Christel Trimborn

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