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Behind the Style - An insight into the design process at Zepel

We talk to Jannah Stevens, Product Development Co-ordinator who shares her insights.

We asked the Zepel studio to start at the beginning, to tell us how they go about sourcing inspiration for their ranges and all aspects of their design and development process.

 

ZF

Explain how you go about sourcing inspiration for your collections? 

JS

There are so many possibilities at the beginning of a collection and finding inspiration from the start is the best way to help guide the many decisions we need to make along the way. We start by asking questions and looking for the answers, for example – what colours are in demand right now, what patterns and textures are trending, what do we know is already working well within our range, how will these fabrics be used in the home, what is going on in the world currently i.e. do we need to source more recycled and eco-friendly constructions for our consumers? 

We look to answer some of these questions through inspiration sources like Pinterest, WGSN, interior and fashion blogs, magazines, social media and even good old fashion books!

ZF

When researching the visual aspects of a possible new range (or theme) where do you look? Tell us about this process. 

JS

Initially it’s all about the internet research, I like to start on Pinterest because before you even refine your search you can see what’s trending in the world right there on the landing page! From shoes, pets, food to lifestyle trends…it’s all there (their algorithms for what people are searching most are amazing). This helps me understand and get a bigger picture of how the world is living right now, and what is important to people. 

From here, I can begin to spot repetition of consumer needs / wants and refine my search to become more interior focused. After this, I begin to put together aspirational images and samples, whether they be fabric cuttings, wallpapers or paint chips. This is where you can start to bring in textures and think about what constructions might be best suited to the new development, it’s all helpful in creating the ‘feel’ and direction of a new collection or design.  

ZF

Do your collections follow a theme? If so, how does this work/how do you choose a theme?

JS

Yes, we loosely theme our collections towards lifestyle moments rather than design trends, what I mean when I say this is we focus on how our products come together when they are being released to address consumers current lifestyle needs and aspirations, rather than ‘here is the new black and white collection’. For example, some releases are full of relaxed and demure colours, textures and subtle pattern for a lifestyle that seeks rest and retreat while other collections are infused with exciting patterns and warm colour for the lifestyle that seeks inspiration, an injection of happiness and optimism. We shape or ‘theme’ or collections in this way.

ZF

The construction of each fabric key, what is your development process to final construction?

JS

A fabric’s construction is so crucial when it comes to textile design and it’s the construction that contributes hugely to the overall look and feel of the fabric. We work closely with some of the best textile mills and suppliers in the world and are always seeking out their knowledge and advice around different constructions and new textile technologies that can help shape and bring something new to our ranges. 

We do a huge amount of work and research in this area. If we are interested in certain constructions that look and feel right for the brand, we will move to the testing stage to determine if this will endure the kind of use we would like to specify it for. Once results return with a positive outcome, we proceed further into the design brief and begin working on printing or weaving pattern and colour into the cloth. 

We have a special focus on getting the best performance from constructions while keeping their aesthetic and handle soft, appealing and relevant to our lifestyle and the way we live here in Australia and New Zealand. Selecting and developing constructions that look luxurious and decorative are as important to us as making sure our fabrics are hardwearing and easy clean. The Zepel range needs to help create a sense of everyday luxury, no matter the home it ends up in!

ZF

How long does the entire process take from start to finish?

JS

It’s not a speedy process that’s for sure! From concept or brief, to colour-work, the back and forth communications with mills, testing and then sample and marketing preparation, we could be working on one design or collection for 12-18 months, depending on how smoothly things run along the way. A lot of work goes into ensuring the end result is exceptional and will perform the way we guarantee it will.

ZF

How many people are involved?

JS

Our department in particular consists of myself, doing all things product development and Eadaoin who works on product and brand marketing for Zepel. We are a small and very busy team here in Australia with another branch of marketing support for Zepel based over in New Zealand. 

The bigger picture, from concept to completion includes many more people however, people that contribute to their part of the puzzle before a product is released to the market. This could be the textile agent helping with construction selection or the mill weaving, printing or dyeing the goods, the textile testing lab or the sample department, sampling and packaging the finished product.

A development will always pass through many hands along the way before it ever sees the shop shelves or the light of day!  

Akari Collection

Akari Collection

Tropico Collection

Tropico Collection

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FibreGuard Couch Competition Winners!

People & Places

In late 2019, we ran a fabulous competition to win a custom made Molmic couch covered in our brilliant stain resistant fabric, FibreGuard.

With entries received all over New Zealand and Australia, only three couches were up for grabs. Each entrant was asked to give us their reason for why they needed a new stain resistant couch.

There was an overwhelming response of humorous stories and heart felt reasons for why a new couch would bring joy to people and their families. It was great to see so many people deeply involved in why the right couch was so important to them and their families.