By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs Coordinator
At the International Home + Housewares Show in March, the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center will present 21 educational programs, every hour beginning Saturday morning and ending Tuesday afternoon. At the Theater, located in Room E350 (near the entry to the Level 3 Lobby), experts in new product development and launch will discuss critical and timely topics in our industry. Over the next few months, we’ll introduce you to the presenters with this series of interviews. Be sure to mark your calendars for these exciting programs! Check www.housewares.org regularly for updates on the schedule of Show events.
Tuesday, March 5 10:30 – 11:20 am
The New American Craft: A New Landscape for Manufacturing
Brooks Atwood, Assistant Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is the founder and principal of POD Design. His multi-disciplinary design studio collaborates with varied thinkers and makers to explore advanced technologies and material fabrications. Spanning art, sculpture, innovative architecture to products, Atwood’s work pushes the boundaries of conventional design. His expertise and cutting edge work in the fields of architecture and design have led him to projects and speaking opportunities around the world. He has collaborated on award-winning art and sculpture installations and his work is part of the permanent collection at the Samsung Museum School of Art in Seoul, Korea. Brooks was also a featured designer on the DIY Network for Esquire magazine’s The Ultimate Bachelor Pad as well as on Showtime for the Showtime Show House to create a home for the character in a TV show, “The United States of Tara.”
Brooks, what inspires your passion in your work?
I’m such an excitable person and so curious about everything that just about anything inspires me. My dad taught me to never turn down an opportunity for a good story and I live by that advice.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
This Show is the defacto Show for new and innovative products and it provides a platform for educational sessions and student awards. Not to be missed!
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
I’ll be speaking about new ideas for retail and manufacturing and how this is the perfect time to get your products into the hands of your clients. The traditional product-retail model has changed. Come find out how!
What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
This is my first time presenting at the Innovation Theater. I’m looking forward to being part of the amazing energy and enthusiasm that surrounds the Show. It’s palpable and I want to take that energy and discuss current issues that surround our profession and where we are headed.
How does the Innovation Theater help you spread your message?
The Innovation Theater helps spread ideas. Period. It’s the place to be heard and see change happening. The Theater provides so many resources of information, from online videos and interviews to numerous speakers about current trends and topics.
What kind of impact can the speakers of the Innovation Theater have at the Show?
Speakers have a major impact! Stay tuned to watch my acrobatic speaking session. And I may even juggle!
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
I think balancing need and function with a quality product is hard to find. A big concern is value. Price and value are so important in this economy.
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals face in the housewares market?
New trends include functional minimalism and affordable elegance. A big issue in product development is how to manufacture and distribute products in today’s markets. Manufacturing is key for small businesses. How can we get product to market in new ways and in new locations? With the advent of online retail everything has changed and we need to understand this shift or wave we’re about to ride through.
What is the best advice you could give someone trying to get into your area of expertise?
On the back of your driver’s license where it asks if you’d like to be an organ donor, I crossed that out and wrote that I dedicate my body to design. Follow your passion, follow your luck and never look back.
Thank you, Brooks. Your energy seems boundless. I’m sure your presentation on Sunday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m. in the Innovation Theater will energize the audience too. Your topic is most timely, as today marketers and retailers must create personal experiences in the 3D world of store merchandising as well as in the virtual world of online sales. Learn more about Brooks Atwood’s projects here.