I have designed thousands of products since VIETRI began more than 40 years ago, and it is my absolute favorite part of my work. In the early days, Momma, Frances, and I would discuss ideas while we were in Italy, and correspond with our Italian artisans via fax machines and crackly phone calls. The technology has changed, but the framework of the process is still the same, and I still find it so exhilarating and satisfying. 

These days, I work with Natalie, VIETRI’s Director of Product Development, on new product designs. She and I get much inspiration from Italy itself: its landscapes, architecture, history, and atmosphere. We also make sure to attend international and domestic trade shows, and it’s so helpful to walk the floors, observing the colors, textures, and shapes that are trending and are resonating with people. 

After absorbing our inspiration, Natalie and I send ideas back and forth to each other and share with the rest of the team. Eventually, we land on a design idea that we think is strong, and we decide which of our Italian factories is the best fit for creating the product. Natalie and I then have a virtual meeting with the factory, and we explain our vision. We discuss colors, interpretations, sizing, and more. 

Sometimes, our factories come to us with product ideas. Italy is always so ahead of trends, and some our best collections have started with creative ideas from the factories that we then collaborate on together. Either way, we have that initial discussion, and then we wait to see the first samples. 

It always feels like Christmas morning when I see an email in my inbox with “fatto!” or “done!” in the subject line. We review photos of those first designs, and we make suggestions as to the coloring, the scale of the design, product shapes, and more. After the design is landed, we discuss what items would be necessary to make a stand-alone collection. Sometimes we start with serving pieces, and sometimes we start with dinnerware. It depends on what the design is and on our instinct for how customers will respond. 

Another fun part of the design process is naming the collection. I like the collection name to honor the region of Italy in which it's made, and we normally start by brainstorming a list of the region’s towns, landmarks, geographic features, and history. We toss them around until we land on the name that feels exactly right. 

The design process can take anywhere from six months to two years. Sometimes we design something and hold off on producing and releasing it until the right moment. We want everything we offer to be classic, everlasting, and forever loved, and sometimes that means waiting a bit to produce and offer the product. Our decisions are informed by what we see in the market, how our existing collections are selling, what we are hearing from our customers, and our expectations for how the product will sell. If I’ve learned anything in this process, it’s that you cannot rush it. The right product presents itself when you are patient in its creation and when you let the process unfold organically and thoughtfully. 

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