One of the biggest barrier for designers getting their work to the public is the current state of large scale physical retail, which can inhibit risk taking and reward products that are overly conservative. The goal is often to bring products to retail that are already proven. By definition this is going to limit designs that are more niche and interesting, and make designs that are disruptive almost impossible to bring to market.
Perhaps this is why so many people are slightly infatuated with crowdfunding, where a person can have a dream, put some effort in, and directly reach the end user. This process of direct communication with end users eliminates the opinions of dozens of retailers and can appeal to very specific and niche audiences. I don't back a ton of campaigns, but I love surfing through them. A few of our discussion group members even have a slight addiction problem. After all, it does feel a bit like your own personal version of Shark Tank.
One recent favorite of mine is Q Designs by Quentin Williams. You might be hard pressed to put this footwear into one of the typical genre categories found at sneaker shop in the mall, which seems to make e-commerce and crowdfunding a perfect fit. They're something like a hybrid between a hiking boot, basketball shoe, and retro lifestyle sneaker. A graduate of former Nike Jordan design director (and my former boss!) D'Wayne Edward's Pensole Footwear Design Academy, Quentin worked for several global footwear brands before striking out with his own line. I always respect designers who take matters into their own hands. If you want to drop in on his crowd funding campaign, click HERE.
For more than 20 years Michael has been designing iconic products and brand experiences for some of the best brands in the world including Nike, Google, Motorola, Honda, and Hasbro. Located in Portland, Oregon, his studio focuses on industry leading halo projects across autonomous automotive, consumer electronics, travel, mobile devices, wearables, toys and conceptual Hollywood entertainment projects.