Dynamist Blog

Style, Trends, and Authenticity

In the new issue of I.D. Magazine, I interview Robyn Waters, the trend-spotter behind many of Target's pathbreaking design ventures. The published format is very short, though it hits the highlights of our conversation. Here's one more bit that didn't make it into print, following on her discussion of the Philippe Starck sippy cup:

Q: I have to be a little skeptical. My response to the way Target marketed the line was, "Target doesn't actually think its customers are going to like these things. It's not marketing the things. It's marketing Philippe Starck--oh, you should know who he is, you should be impressed that we have him." How well did those designs actually do?

A: It was definitely marketed to capitalize on the buzz. It was not a huge volume program. But the sippy cup in particular really became an icon for the program. I literally got faxes and emails from people in Germany and Japan and Italy. They were frantic to know how they could get one of these sippy cups. I have two samples of that product left, and I take it with me to some of my talks. I tell you, I could have sold those things 10 times over at a huge markup.

Part of the benefit to Target from the Starck Reality program was that we developed our staff. To get these products executed to the intense specifications of Philippe and his design team, we jumped through lot of hoops. The program gave our designers, young designers pretty new out of school, the opportunity to work with a master for a year, and to feel good about what they did ,and to be challenged constantly: "Not good enough, not good enough. We have to be able to do this." There were so many times when a vendor said, "Sorry we can't do that." Philippe's answer was, "Well, they can if they do it this way or look at it this way." Or, "Then we find somebody who can do it." That was a huge, valuable lesson for us in terms of how we--the design department and trend department--were going to work with merchants in the future. He was all about finding solutions, exploring all the possibilities, getting outside the box, and then finding different ways to do things. It was literally like sending your staff to graduate school.

She was right about one thing. Around the time of our interview, the sippy cup was going for around $15 on Ebay.

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