Behind the Design: Anne Moser’s Fresh Take on CW
When a new fashion-forward product emerges from the design department at World Kitchen—like the new stylish and colorful CW from CorningWare® nestable bakers—odds are that Anne Moser, CorningWare product design lead, had a creative eye on its development.
In fact, Anne—who’s been with World Kitchen for just over 2 years and has more than 20 years of experience in consumer product design—is responsible for providing global design leadership for CorningWare products and Baker’s Secret metal bakeware. Anne describes her love for her creative career, and the importance of good product design.
When did you first know you wanted to be a product designer?
I got a summer job at Interbrand Design Forum while taking general-education classes at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. As I helped out in the resource library, I was floored to see people getting paid to sketch, so I guess it was more of a sudden realization for me. I polled the designers about education and started building a little portfolio to submit to industrial design-accredited schools. I ended up attending Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio, where I earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in Industrial Design.
Why are you so passionate about product design?
Because it has the potential to reach and affect so many people. It’s a constant challenge to get good product design off the ground and into consumers’ hands, but when it does happen, it’s incredibly satisfying to know that thanks to your hard work and sweat, there’s something out there that people are using.
What are the hallmarks of good product design—and why does good design matter?
In my opinion, the best design is fairly unnoticeable; if it fits into your life—maybe makes life a little easier in a subtle way—that’s good design. It’s really hard to find that subtlety. To develop great solutions, designers must be skilled in restraint and find identifying ways to fix problems in an elegant and invisible way. You see this a lot in well designed user interfaces and I think it’s true as well for industrial design.
Do any elements consistently emerge in your designs?
I’m inherently a highly empathetic individual, so it’s very natural for me to attempt to get into someone else’s shoes and imagine their experiences. I think empathy is a critical capacity when designing a product solution or a system. Also, I do a lot of sketching when I’m thinking through a problem; it’s an important part of the process. What gets my attention when I look at other designers’ work is their ability to sketch well and see the thought process evolve.
What spurred the development of the new CW by CorningWare®, with its bright colors and fresh design?
CorningWare bakeware is a well-known and trusted brand of ceramic ware, but we recognized that our loyal consumers also want color in their kitchens and choices that allow them to personalize and display their aesthetic tastes.
CW was developed not to be “trendy,” but to be more relevant to our existing audience, as well as younger new consumers and their changing lifestyles. We selected colors that would be easy to reproduce, trend-forward and visually exciting for years. The palette was constructed to work cohesively together but also allow endless options for color pairings.
Where do you start designing a new product like CW by CorningWare®?
We look at our place in the market and determine who our competition is, and then define their strengths and weaknesses. We develop our own point of differentiation based on our established brand principles, our awareness of the competition, and our knowledge of our target market and their preferences as well as market trends. It’s critical to process this background data before we start sketching ideas.
Once we have a shape in mind, we plan out the set and start building the idea using computer-aided design (CAD) tools. A 3D printer allows us to easily make a quick prototype to check surfaces and capacities before sharing the refined CAD with our manufacturing partners. To shorten timelines in this case, we also concurrently strategize the color palette. Once we have ceramic prototypes from our manufacturing partner, we can do drop testing and start to create an identity and packaging, as well as perform consumer testing.
Aside from the fashion-forward colors, what else is unique about CW by CorningWare®?
The chamfered lip at the top of each dish helps to visually slim typically heavy stoneware. Also, the four core sizes nest together, so they take up less room in cabinets. The general shape and design allows for more flexibility in how consumers use the pieces. For instance, we included beveled bottom edges on the 1.9-quart Twilight shallow baker and the 3-quart Pool baker, so you can put the Twilight baker atop the Pool baker and create a cold-server for things such as a caprese salad or shrimp cocktail. And the Curry and Vermilion bakers could be paired for use as a chip-and-dip set. So they work well individually but also together, which sets CW by CorningWare® apart from its competitors.
How long does it take to bring a new product to market?
In the case of CW by CorningWare®, it took 11 months to get from research to concepting to commercialization. But that’s an unusually fast track—very rapid product development.
Do you do anything special to promote creativity and/or innovation on your team of designers?
Innovating with other designers is pretty effortless. Designers understand and are fairly relaxed with the process of coming up with solutions; we know that there will good ones and dumb ones. I try to build a casual atmosphere when brainstorming with non-designers. When ideating with a cross-functional team, I bring playful things to fidget with, and I include some background music and snacks. These things help take the pressure off not being able to draw. I try to help non-designers see that the idea is what’s important, rather than a beautiful execution. Also, helping them feel included in a winning solution builds ownership that is massively important when maturing a concept into commercialization.
What is your favorite World Kitchen product design and why?
Probably our new upcoming CorningWare® French White cast-aluminum stovetop line. It required a high learning curve because it was a new material in a new process (traditional CorningWare products are made of stoneware), and we had to work very hard to retain an elegant design amid manufacturing limitations. It’s a beautiful translation of our iconic stoneware design in a different material and it definitely stands out against competition in the stovetop category. I’m really proud of the collective teamwork it took to bring that line to a sales-ready position.