The process of launching a new product contains a multitude of steps, from the idea and concept phase through final rollout.

Lucas Pearl, VP of Product Development for Watson Furniture, gave his perspective on that journey and what some of the best practices for launching a furniture product today are.

“We start all of our product developments in cardboard. To start making decisions, we have to have a physical object. It’s too easy to lose scale in a computer program,” Pearl said.

One thing Pearl said about making product decisions in the design stage was that his team doesn’t make the item look like the finished product. It is important not to get caught up in the specifics of the end unit and instead focus on the functionality of the creation.

As for what are the hot trends in furniture design right now, two came to Pearl’s mind. Activity-based working, where users can move throughout different workstations as their tasks change throughout a workday, is one.

“There might be a lounge area, different high desks, the typical workstation, a variety of places one can go,” Pearl said.

Hot desking is another trend Pearl mentioned. Hot desking is the practice of unassigned workstations throughout the workspace where, every day, one can go and find a new space to work and gain a different perspective rather than remaining at one location all the time.

“At Watson, we took a step back from the open office concept to put the focus back on the user, Pearl said. “We have a firm belief that, yes, ancillary spaces are important, but a user does their work at their workstation.”

One of the things Pearl and his team do to stay current is to get over to Europe and study office furniture designs there. While attending the Stockholm Sweden Furniture and Light Fair, Pearl poked around the various office windows to see how people were working in real situations.

“You can’t get that sense from a trade show, but you can walk through a city and look at the windows and see what people think of wire management. How do desks move when it’s left up to the user? And that’s where we try to find our inspiration,” Pearl said.

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