Woman-owned, woman-led dinnerware company Gaia Group USA has launched a dinnerware innovation lab. The GAIA Innovation and Research Lab (GIRL) will be focused on developing innovative solutions for every aspect of the dinnerware industry, from product design, development and manufacturing to distribution and marketing.
GIRL has two co-headquartered lab locations, one directed by Gaia founder Eloise Huang in Shanghai and the other directed by leading industrial designer David Law in San Francisco. Guiding Huang and Law in design strategies will be Jaime Mesner, Gaia Group director of trend and product development.
“In every aspect of the innovation lab, we will approach it through the lens of the woman consumer and her needs and desires,” said Marie McGrath Brown, president and general manager for Gaia Group USA. “In an economy where women drive 70% to 80% of consumer purchasing, Huang will be tapping directly into this demographic to gain valuable input, direction and guidance in regards to product design and development. To further expand our reach into the addressable marketplace we purposefully chose David because he was not from the housewares industry, but from a sector that focuses on the modern consumer.”
According to the company, GIRL will be guided by four principles:
Ideation: Creating out-of-the-box solutions that resonate most fully with today’s women consumers and their family needs and concerns.
Innovation: Researching the use of new technologies and materials to provide better products and services more efficiently and effectively, including new technologies such as augmented reality, 3D printing and sensors in addition to materials.
Integration: Continual exploration of how dinnerware and associated products can best integrate with how today’s consumers live.
Internationalization: Leveraging cross-cultural experiences to improve the lives of consumers and to women and their families around the world.
The company’s first efforts under its innovation lab is its Dinnovation Student Design Competition, which honors students designing for accessibility, sustainability, innovative use of materials, lifestyle enhancement or functionality.
The 2018 first place winner is Dylan Fealtman from Georgia Institute of Technology, who used 3D printing to create BLD Dinnerware, dinnerware for the visually impaired. The second place winner was Shahd Zubier from Rochester Institute of Technology, who designed the Arc Plate using silicone, to enhance control and stability for self-feeding toddlers. The winning designs will be showcased at the International Home + Housewares Show.
“By empowering a new generation of designers working with new materials and emerging technologies, we can respond to the needs of consumers in ways we can’t even yet imagine,” said Mesner.