The newest site (opening "doors" only 2 1/2 weeks ago) in a growing crop of flash sale retailers, Fab.com features daily product deals from emerging and established contemporary designers. Today they announced that Chad Phillips, former Creative Director of Kid Robot, has been brought on as Fab.com's Director of Product Acquisition.
As a self-described "retail and design nerd," Phillips was a former Product Manager at NYC-based design emporium, Moss, and has consulted with Areaware, the Greenwich Hotel, the Museum of Sex and even produced two iPhone apps: Bad Camera and Subway Bingo. In his new role, Phillips will be curating the selection of products offered through Fab.com. We got the chance to chat with Chad about the changing landscape of online retail as well as some insight on what this new sales formula means for the design community as whole.
Core77: Your experience prior to joining Fab.com has been with brands and products in a physical space. In what ways do you anticipate curating products for an exclusively digital space to be different?
Chad Phillips: Early days at Kidrobot were very digital actually, the web always made up a huge part of sales. Just before leaving I was still buying for all locations, so I am very comfortable in the digital space—I just love wacky, fun retails spaces too. The biggest difference is in the mind set of merchandising, telling a story digitally, otherwise it isn't too much of a deviation. Being a constant online shopper helps.
A selection of products from Kid Robot from left to right: Munny customized vinyl figure, Kid Robot x Lacoste shoe, Jason Siu x Kid Robot speaker, Nemesis Project x Kid Robot bike + matching U-Lock
In what way do you think platforms like Fab.com change the landscape of retail? How does this affect designers/brands?
It's making people excited to shop again and less guilt-ridden both because of the get-it-now nature and the lower-than-retail price. People want to shop and the economy needs us to shop. I think physical retail has just gotten to be predictable and cumbersome, so we all look to the web now. The web always has the color you want in stock. Fab is showcasing some of my favorite designers new to the scene which helps them grow and this is something brick and mortar locations can't always try out.The Fab.com model is a "daily deal," limited-time offer model. How does this affect the type/range of products or brands that you buy for the site?
I'm excited by this model, as most people are these days. I think it gives us even more flexibilty in the offerings, more room to try things with both younger or more established brands and to really push the boundaries. It's an opportunity to really get design into the heartland. My Southern mom is excited about Fab, and has already bought a few things. For her, it's about the uniqueness of the items—she has never seen them because they have never been sold nearby. Now Fab makes design as close as her laptop. Design should be accessible and exciting. This sense of discovery really helps people want to see more and learn more. It's a win-win for everyone.
When working with brands, what suggestions would you have for them when picking products to offer?
I think it's most important for them to understand the marketing aspect of the site and to really grasp what it can do for them. Getting your product in front of hundreds of thousands of people these days is major. Their selection should really be based on their core style, which we would direct a bit.
Recent and upcoming Fab.com Offers from left to right: (top row) Strida bikes, Lerival "Hex" table, Boske "Sky Planter" (bottom row) Steph Mantis "Animal Butt" magnets, Rich Brilliant Willing "Branch" floor lamp, Daniel Michalik "3/1" bench
Who are some of your favorite emerging designers right now and why?
Most anyone in the American Design Club, current faves are Fort Standard and Chen Chen, for their craft meets design aspects. I also love the Rams-esque style of Jonas Damon. (full disclosure, I am friends with about any name I would suggest. )
Also, I know he's not an up-and-comer, but I always love what Tom Dixon is doing. He is one of the few majors still really pushing new forms while touching upon fashionable trends. He is really creating some of the future classics.
[ED NOTE: Check out our gallery from this year's NoHo Design District (on show for New York Design Week) featuring works from the above emerging designers!)]