Cheryl Pelley is a product and transportation designer who discusses how materials are selected, and how to build a collection of materials to use for design inspiration.
- One of the things that we always find out when we talk to students that just recently graduated design school or architecture school they say some of the challenges were around finding materials, where they get started, and things like that. Today with us I'm going to be with Cheryl Pelly. I've known Cheryl for quite a few years. She's UI, UX designer, product designer, and as of late she's been stirring up a lot of news around aviation.
She designs interiors for both private, and commercial airlines. Thanks, Cheryl, for joining us, and bringing us all your goodies here. A lot of candy I can see I'm going to be really distracted on this one, so just ignore me if I keep playing with your stuff. - I understand that, thanks for having me. This is borne out of a deep passion, and love for all things interesting, and textural and colorful, and what better place to showcase all these goodies.
- [Man] Tell us, what does a commercial and private jet plane designer do around colors and materials and finishes? - Well, it's probably the ultimate project you could ever get someone telling you, yeah, design me a private jet. - Take two. - Yeah, exactly, me, too, as well. Usually, there are parameters given by the client, according to what their preferences are, but of late there's been a lot of people asking for your recommendation first, so that's when you really get to play with some of the color and materials, and see if something new and innovative is possible by reaching out to suppliers that are not within the aviation industry, but that come from different industries such as contracting, and leather companies, automotive, yachting and things like that, and try to bring some of this innovation into the private jet.
Usually, if you're able to purchase a private jet you have access to all the best designers, so it's actually quite a compliment to be able to do a private business jet. - There is a lot of different things you have here, Cheryl. You got raw woods, finished woods, secondary processes and textiles, and plastics and metals. Where do we get started with this? - It's a wonderful hoarding habit to have. This is what happens you keep expanding faster than you can get new storage areas for, but really it comes down to having fantastic relationships with your suppliers, and really being willing to develop an interpersonal relationship with them.
Many times they have aspects of their corporation that they're developing new things. For instance, leather companies may be developing something where it's laser cut hair-on hides, leathers, that doesn't even have a name yet it's just a number 23. When you get your hands on these things it can really inspire your products even though you may not end up using this particular product. - [Man] Yeah, so this might inspire you to go into something else, and they also trust you because they want your opinion on whether this is a good idea to move forward with or not.
- Yes, definitely. There's a lot of suppliers that are in the industry that really make a profession out of developing something new and interesting, so they may come out with something like this where there is a reflective background on a piece of material that has a translucency, and they will ask the designers is this what you're looking for? Do you have a use for this? What would you like us to change about this? We may say this is a beautiful sample maybe give it a matte finish, or something, and they will go back and develop that, and then they can provide samples like this as something that has been a result of what you had discussed, so, again, it's about really building good relationships with your suppliers, and seeing what they have that may not be available to the public yet.
- So a lot of what you're talking about is about material suppliers, but I've seen you come back with some crazy stuff before, so tell me about how to get materials that are not from suppliers? - That's a good question. I think just having a good bubbly personality, and not being afraid to reach out to unusual suppliers for things that may not be from the industry that could be from say the equestrian industry for leathers, or the automotive industry for different types of laminates, or a different type of waterproof material from the yachting industry, and really just seeing what they have, and asking if they have anything else that they haven't shown you, those are where some specials come from.
- So in a few minutes here we're going to show how you downselect this into an actual real project, and I can see you've already kind of came into a couple of things here that we're going to do with one of your personal projects that you've been working on. - Yes, it's very exiting. One of the benefits of having good relationships with suppliers, and a good dose of enthusiasm is that they're willing to work with you on special projects, so we developed a new private business jet named Equinox, and had a collection of suppliers that wanted to be a part of the project, and pushed their innovation for this project, so it was a win-win for several people.
- So, Cheryl, I mean you get a lot of this stuff because of who you are I mean when Cheryl Pelly calls they pick up the phone, roll out the red carpet, and anything you want you get, but what if we're not Cheryl Pelly. I mean, really tell us some of the challenges, a real world challenge that somebody starting out in the biz might fairly face trying to secure some of these. - It's a very good question to ask, and it's an important one, too, because it's how you get your foot into the industry.
The easiest way is to work for a company that already has a color material department, and you're able to build relationships with the corporations that can provide some of these material boxes. There's also a lot of the universities that offer color material programs that the suppliers such as Luna Textiles and Spinneyback have really good relationships with, so they're able to share their samples with the students, and invite the students into their showrooms, and to get them a foot in the door because the suppliers want to have a relationship with their future designers as well, so it can be a win-win relationship.
If you're someone an adult, and you wanted to go and look for a new fabric for your couch you can go to some of the larger showrooms, and there's a multitude of textile companies that are generally business-to-business, but it doesn't mean that you couldn't walk away with a fabric such as this for your couch. I would be honest I would say I am looking for new upholstery for my couch, and they may offer to have you work with an interior designer.
If you say I'm just looking for one is there things that you could show me? I've heard you have a great product, and that, you know, I think would open the door to letting you into their showrooms where you can select some of the textiles that are generally only for the business-to-business market. Most of the companies are welcoming to new business, of course, so I think just being honest with what you're looking for can help you get your foot in the door. - For the ones that we can purchase I mean like if we have to go online, and to purchase are these expensive? I mean are they hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars? - It really depends on the actual manufacturer of the fabric, but textiles such as these say design picks this can run about $75 a yard to $100 a yard, which is very different than your typical Ma and Pa fabric store where they're arts and crafts.
There are some suppliers online such as Maharam that offer online sampling and for free. I believe that you can actually order five samples, again, about this size from Maharam, and they will ship them to you for free without much adieu. If it goes further, or if you'd like to purchase a yard, usually, they'll ask you to fill out a credit application, or at the very least know a little bit more about the project that you're designing for, therefore, they can see merit for providing you a sampling, but purchasing one yard is actually quite common in the interiors industry because if you have a repeat of a pattern you really would like to see what this would look like on a large surface, so if your sample has dimples like this this may look very interesting on the small sample, but perhaps applied over an entire couch, maybe not, so they do sell by the yard.
Probably you just need to pay state taxes on that. - That's actually a really good point because the scale of the material is really relevant contextually to what we're designing, you know, when we're looking at a little color chip, and then you put it into an architectural environment, and then it turns into not exactly what you were planning. - Yes, and there's also the need to purchase the current dye lot of the textile, so a lot of the materials that are offered that appeal to designers are ranges of neutrals, so this dye lot could have been from last years sampling process, and it may be a little bit more green this year, or a little bit more bluer, and then when you apply that over a large area it may be not quite right, so you really do want to make sure you order the most current sampling from the product that you're interested in.
- That's another good point. As you're building up your library, so I mean it never ends, right? I mean you're constantly on the trend of everything, so how much time does this take? I mean once a week, once a month, everyday what are you doing? - That's a good question. It comes up quite often. The range of products that I design for are quite varied, and usually there's some parameters for the types of materials that are required for that particular product if it's fire-rated, water-rated, heat-rated, smoke-rated, so you need to update your sample library with the type of material that is appropriate for that purpose.
There's really no way to be completely 100% updated on all the materials for every market at all time, so what I do is usually start with the phase zero, which is research and understand, which is collecting all of the information about the product to be designed, and then work backwards from their suggested suppliers reach out to them, get all of their updated colors and materials, and then also reach out to some different industries that may be similar, and applicable to the end result, and that's what keeps innovation fresh, so, for example, if a company specifies a leather for a wall panel or something, perhaps they're not aware of something that's woven that came from Italy out of the Milan Furniture Fair, so this may be not an industry specific sample, but it's something that could inspire something that they could use or be modified with a different type of the backing for the end result.
- Thanks for that, Cheryl. In the next movie we're going to have you showcase us how you went through that in one of your personal projects with Equinox. One of the things we need to keep in mind here is Cheryl has shown us a lot of things. It's kind of like drinking from the fire hydrant here, but beg, borrow, steal, get out there, look into cross-disciplinary areas, don't just look into your market, so if you're in transportation look in healthcare, look in consumer electronics, look in architecture, and also get out to the trade shows, and also get out into retail, and secure some of these whether you have to chop up parts, or get whatever, you start building your library today, and you'll need this as a groundwork for your foundation of inspiration on all your projects that you'd move forward with.
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