On the eve of the launch of Fleurville’s Calla high chair, designed by Yves Behar, we had a few moments to chat with founder Steve Granville about the next big step for his company.
coochicoos: Introducing Calla, a high chair, is a lot different from making diaper bags. Tell us how this fits into the evolution of Fleurville.
Steve: When we started Fleurville four years ago, we set out to build a brand that would become important in the parenting space. Soft goods was just a starting point for us. After all, our slogan “essential designs for modern parenting” represents the company we are building, and we see plenty of opportunity for us in the future.
coochicoos: How did you decide on designing a high chair?
Steve: After researching what was on the market, it struck us how many other baby companies approached their product design with safety being the primary driver in determining the look of their products. I think that’s why you see so much stagnant design in the marketplace. Of course, safety is inherent in Calla, but first we wanted to make a visually strong looking product, and it makes a big difference in the end result.
coochicoos: Being from a consumer product marketing background, how are your design philosophies similar with Yves?
Steve: We both believe that design helps articulate the vision of a product and brand. Design is essentially about problem solving for every walk of life. With regard to Calla, it was important that we both approached the project with freshness – with a sense of no restraints.
coochicoos: Working with Yves, did you accomplish the design goals you set out for Calla?
Steve: It’s been about 18 months from cocktail napkin sketches to launch. Our first goal was to design a high chair that had dramatic visual impact. Something that would fit into today’s designer kitchens and enhance the environment.
coochicoos: What innovations does Calla possess?
Steve: There are many. First, the seating system was designed with an ergonomic benefit. We did our research with specialists in child development, and developed a seat design that supports a child in two stages – from 4 months to 1 year, and from 1 year to 2 years old. Calla comes with one insert to fit the age of your child, and subsequent inserts may be purchased individually. The inserts are easily interchangeable. The chair is also easy to maneuver, and may be positioned closer to you – reducing the arm reach when feeding. Lastly, you can mix & match Calla with different color combinations, with the body and flute available in two different colors, and the cushion initially available in three colors.
coochicoos: So what do you think about the whole celebrity baby trend, and the culture of celebrity parent product endorsement, whether intentional or not?
Steve: I’m undecided about this phenomenon. We recently had a discussion with friends about the commercial versus artistic success of a design concept, and wondered how celebrity credibility became so important. I haven’t decided my position on this.
coochicoos: Fleurville started when you and your wife became first-time parents. Describe your work/life balance now that both of you are involved in running the business.
Steve: “Intensive therapy” is involved. (big chuckle!) It takes a lot of work, of course. We have several different challenges –there are the normal challenges of marriage, along with raising our children, now 2 and 5 years old, in addition to being a husband and wife business team.
We have 12 employees, and it’s important for us to have a family friendly workplace. I believe in pushing through the day, so that we can all go home in time for dinner. A 14-hour day is not what we want for our people.
coochicoos: So what kind of company will Fleurville be in five years?
Steve: Our focus will always be on design. We will continue to develop products for the mobile family and their at-home and on the go needs. We look forward to being an innovative design brand in the baby world.
Thanks, Steve for talking with us about your design philosophies and future growth for Fleurville. We look forward to seeing more innovation from you in the future. Calla will be introduced at ICFF in New York this week from May 20-23. For further information about the Calla Chair, visit the Calla Chair website.