Meet the designer: Siobhan Maher, Domino Jewellery

Meet the designer: Siobhan Maher, Domino Jewellery

Premium IJL exhibitor Domino Jewellery continues to impress retailers with its forward-thinking, commercial and boundary pushing fine jewellery designs. The company presents its new collections annually at International Jewellery London and this year will be no exception.

Here, Domino Jewellery senior designer Siobhan Maher explains why trend forecasting is so important to the company and how her team strives to stay ahead of the competition at every opportunity…

Q: What are Domino’s big trends for AW16 and SS17 and how did you arrive at these decisions?

SM: For AW16 we have new Belle Ile pieces which tap into some of the design trends we’ve seen emerging this year – from a look we’ve dubbed ‘Orbital’ to a beautiful Oriental trend which is particularly strong in interiors and fashion.

For SS17 it’s actually lifestyle trends which inspire our new collections. For example, our research suggests that consumers are prioritising spending on holidays, and we’re a department of keen travellers ourselves.

So we’re pulling inspiration from our own trips – the grandeur of Budapest, the architecture of Jaipur, the artwork of Isfahan – to create designs and stories we think customers will really respond to.

Q: When it comes to trend forecasting, how does Domino ensure it stay ahead of the competition?

SM: People are often surprised when we describe how much emphasis we place on trends forecasting – after all, we’re known for our engagement rings. We know that trends do influence consumers’ purchases, even the ‘forever’ ones, and we also believe that our awareness of the trends helps keep us ahead of the market.

We always visit the key international and UK jewellery shows – Hong Kong, Basel, Vicenza, Inhorgenta, IJL and Jewellery & Watch. From our desks, every day we check out our go-to selection of Instagram and blog influencers plus the key fashion, retail and jewellery publications.

We don’t just look at fine jewellery trends; we’re tuned in to what’s going on in all areas of design from fashion to interiors, architecture to product design. At times these areas dovetail with jewellery (for example, the vogue for copper in interiors with that of rose gold jewellery) and at others they might inspire new ideas.

Q: Are there any particular trade shows or events that help you decide upon the trends you will cover?

The Baselworld show is a key one for us – we know that many trends we see emerging here may well have an influence back in the UK. That the show has such a focus on watches is no disadvantage; the watch market is so cutting edge in design and technology that we often see watches leading where jewellery will follow.

In addition to the shows, one of our key research activities is actually getting out onto the high street. We visit different towns and cities across the UK to see what’s happening in jewellery, fashion, home wares and so forth. Often we’ll see micro trends that are quite specific to a place or region, and responding to these is just as important to the retailers in these locations as reacting to wider and international trends.

Q: How do you balance more traditional designs with more forward thinking designs? Do you have a ratio you try and stick to to keep all customers happy?

SM: This balance might just be at the heart of what Domino is! Over the years we’ve become known for introducing now-classics to the market, and we’re always striving to launch the next ‘new classic’. However we’re equally recognised for our market-leading new designs, which is where we show off our creativity and give customers those real ‘point of difference’ pieces for their store.

There’s no set ratio for this; we design many, many options for each collection and then put together the range based on customer and sales team feedback, our outlook on the trends and an overall feel for the balance of styles.

Additionally, the breadth of our collections reflects a commitment to both traditional and more dynamic product design. For example, our 2016 IJL launches include Rosabella which leans towards more classic product and Belle Ile (see the Petal Cuff Earrings from this collection below) which is design and trend-led.

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Q: How much weight do you give to customer feedback?

SM: Our customer feedback is incredibly important to us. We love exciting our customers with brand new designs they’ve never seen before, but we also place great value on the input of those people who are selling and working with our product on a day-to-day basis.

Before a range launches we always try to get our new designs out to customers. For example, at Baselworld we showed some new Sienna Rings samples to the customers who visited us there. The feedback we received at the show influenced which of those pieces made it into the final brochure.

We also work very closely with our sales team, who let us know the comments and requests they get from our customers. We’ll look to this feedback when creating ranges and product – are customers telling us they need more head sizes in a particular ring, are they looking for more shaped stones, more coloured stones, more two-part designs?

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the Domino design team?

SM: We’re a seven-strong New Product Development team, led by our Creative Director Naomi Newton-Sherlock. Within the department we have two distinct teams – one for the core Domino product and another working with our National Accounts.

My team creates the product you see in our brochures and core ranges, with Rachel Morgan and Rachel Whitehead on design and CAD. Natasha Bagnall leads the National Accounts team, with Becky Neil and Emma Darnell looking after design, CAD and admin.

Our roles are quite distinct and so balancing work within the team happens quite naturally, but we work very collaboratively. Everyone in the department has a creative jewellery background so we’re constantly sharing inspiration and trying out ideas with each other.

Q: What do you think makes Domino different from its competitors?

SM: The business places a strong emphasis on new product development, which our team is testament to. Our design department is a vibrant, creative environment conductive to innovative and original ideas, but we’re as focussed on getting the commercial and practical angle right as we are the aesthetic. We’re all bench trained, and we work closely with our workshop teams to ensure that function matches form. Our department is responsible for the full life cycle of new product from concepts to CAD and even the pricing – so every piece is backed up by compelling stories, and we carefully consider what impact our design decisions make on sell price.

Visit Domino Jewellery at International Jewellery London from 4th-6th September 2015 at Stand D60

Siobhan Maher Photo

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