After listening to Michele Caniato at Conversations in Design, I see him as some kind of agent for designers and inventors. Many designers have a hard time to sell themselves. Other do not take the time or have the connections to make deals with retail brands. He saw a niche in the market when he founded Culture & Commerce, a strategic design consultancy that develops high potential design opportunities for global brands and international designers.
Brands and retailers would gain from challenging designers to come up with new concepts for products and packaging. What he looks for are people with vision. Then, he looks for the right fit. As he said at his Conversations in Design talk, vision, not spreadsheets, leads company forward.
Behind the Scene of the PUMA’S Clever Little Bag
To prove his points, Caniato chronicled the development of the Clever Little Bag by PUMA. The collaboration between a designer and PUMA led to important savings both in production and distribution costs. The solution enabled PUMA to run a more sustainable business while delivering form and function.
When Yves Béhar, of San Francisco based fuseproject, got the job to create a game changing packaging system that will reduce the shoe box footprint, insiders told him that they couldn’t change the shoe box. For 21 months, Yves Béhar with his team studied and deconstructed the shoe box. The solution came when they got rid of the box all together. Instead, the Clever Little Bag acts as a minimalist shoe box until the cashier grabs the handle to turn it into your shopping bag. All that was done with a reusable shopping bag that carries a strong brand identity.
Caniato’s quest towards innovation carries to materials and techniques. He founded Material ConneXion which operates materials libraries across the globe. His materials libraries is the leading resource for innovative and sustainable materials and processes. He presented a cool material called EcoCradle made by Evocative Design.
This revolutionary material is the brain child of by two Rensselaer Graduates, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre who became fascinated by how mushrooms grow on wood chips. A few years later, the launch a mushroom packaging material aimed to replace plastic foam packaging. They now have a partnership with 3M.
Thinking Outside the Box
The lesson I took home from Michele Caniato’s talk was that if you are willing to look at things differently there are a world of opportunities that could open to you. He mentioned that But whatever you do, you must always be true and be fair to ourselves.
By the way, you do not have to be a renowned designer to be represented by his firm. What you need are remarkable design ideas that solve real problems, to have a story and to be passionate about it.