Hill Interiors Blog

Theory of Product Design at Hill Interiors

As a major wholesale distributor of interior furnishings, ornaments, lighting, giftware et al, Hill Interiors has a clear interest and stake in the subject of product design. We see this, in essence, as the process of creating new objects based on customer needs, desires and ambitions. These needs can be either practical or aesthetic and the design of many products will entail achieving a balance between those two components.

As we see it, the key steps in product design are finding a needs gap in the market and exploring how to fulfil that need. This is followed by the design concept stage with subsequent development and refinement to arrive at the optimum form. Then comes the realisation of the concept in prototype followed by wholesale manufacture and marketing.

We work on the premise that the success of a product depends mainly on the benefit is has to the user. If a product helps the user in an identified task it has the potential to be successful. Our philosophy is that products should be useful and beautiful. Anything created with no or little function is a waste of the designer’s time and the buyer’s money. However, with many products the function is to give aesthetic pleasure.

The best and most talented designers combine their flair for design with a knowledge of modern technologies available to create up to date products manufactured in up to date ways. In addition, such designers never lose sight of the needs of the target audience. A product designed for domestic use will differ significantly from one designed to be displayed at exhibitions where cutting edge, innovative designers push boundaries and defy design norms. In essence, the success of a product will depend on whether it follows the mantra of ‘form follows function’, the dictum of the famous American designer Louis Henry Sullivan. This is particularly important in the case of functional pieces such as wardrobes, bookcases, tables, chairs etc.

JuicerHowever, this is not the only view out there in the designer community. Designers such as Philippe Starck sometimes follow ‘function follows form’ which means that designs prioritise appearance over functionality. An example of this is Starck’s lemon juicer ‘Juicy Salif’. This beautiful, futuristic lemon juicer is made from material that diminishes when in contact with citric acid. This pretty major design flaw by no means renders this design unsuccessful: it is widely held up as an industrial design classic and is displayed in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. However, in the real (ie Hill Interiors) world, this is an unsuccessful piece of design as it is effectively useless in fulfilling its stated purpose.

Our task at Hill Interiors is to keep researching and experimenting with new designs and and trends. Our interior designer, Ella de Wasteney, and all our buyers are constantly looking to broaden our product range, offering more variety for different customers with different tastes; and all the time striving to achieve that perfect balance between form and function.