Gin Kim

a journey to happiness

Designer, Manufacturer & Contemporary Design Retail Business

“Have you ever bought a chair for £150?”

I was asked, with little expectation of a positive answer, during my first job interview for the position of a designer. Let leave a chair with ticket price of £150, I had never bought a single piece of furniture at that point in my life. Ironically this is a rather common predicament for fresh graduates of design school. However the question indicates the criticism towards the mindset of most young designers who expect consumers to pay good hard-earned money for their designs without knowing its value through an actual experience of buying. This also highlights the specificities and contradictions of the design industry.

This question leads me to explore the economy of design industry. To initiate this research, I have focused on contemporary design retail business as one of the most desirable business formats for designers, yet not the most interesting subject for economists or researchers due to the fact that the sector remains comparatively small in terms of both individual size and overall market share.

This research aims to analyse the high-end design and furniture industry in order to find out the hidden structure and correlation between designers, manufacturers and retailers within the deign industry. This research will explore a broad range of context around the furniture and design industry especially focusing on the impact of the economic downturn and the tide of e-commerce on the research area. To understand the internal issues within the businesses, the literatures about the small business sector have been reviewed with greater emphasis on starting up a business, management, marketing and finance.

This research contains both quantitative and qualitative data that are collected via unstructured and structured interviews, a questionnaire and online research. In order to understand a real life phenomenon within the context, case studies are developed based on interviews as well as secondary data. Findings are analysed and synthesised in the form of diagrams.

From manufacturers to customers
– Competitiveness of contemporary design retail business and its channels of communication.
– (Left) Correlations between well established global furniture brands and well established design shops in London.
– (Right) Assessment of the product range and marketing channel of contemporary design retail business in London, 2010

Diversification of retail channels

Traditional structure of the design industry from designers to individual customers.

– Current trend of the diversification of retail channels for designers and manufacturers as well as retailers

(This is from my dissertation about contemporary design retail business in London)


Filed under: Design, MACE 2009

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