Clabots has worked with the world's top design talent to bring hundreds of products to the market
Clabots approaches design direction with his ethos of Why, How, and What? Design is an extremely important part of the business, but it is only one component. Product companies are subject to many different demands, from inventory planning to logistics and marketing. Clabots has shown a great talent for identifying design trends, understanding their relevance to a business’s needs, and defining actionable briefs that explain how to meet those demands through design. He has done so for both external designers and internal design teams, alike. By framing the problem and setting goals and style direction, Clabots identifies the Why and provides the How so that others can provide the What.
Throughout his career, Clabots has been the Design Director at two home goods companies, Fab.com and OTHR. At both, he showed a proven ability to look at others’ work, identify the core of an idea, and calculate how it will best fit with a company’s goals. He can steer creatives into developing the good, discarding the bad, and tailoring their creations to meet the specific manufacturing, marketing, and logistical goals of a company.
CHIEF DESIGN OFFICER 2015-2017
As the Chief Design Officer at OTHR, Clabots collaborated with world-renown designers, including Michael Sodeau, Claesson Koivisto Rune, Phillipe Malouin, and Todd Bracher, among others.
Due to his history as a designer and his intimate understanding of the 3D printing process, Clabots was able to rethink how one could collaborate with external designers. In particular, Clabots discussed typologies and logistics with a designer before he or she ever put pen to paper. He reviewed idea sketches early in the process, provided early feedback on the capabilities and limitations of the manufacturing process, and preferred that final deliverables be refined by his in-house team. By front-loading this communication and information sharing, Clabots could maximize designers' time and abilities. This allowed him to shorten the product development cycle to 3-4 months from briefing to final production prototype.
Clabots knows that developing a good design brief is key to maximizing external design assets
SVP OF DESIGN 2013-2014
As the SVP of Design at Fab.com, Clabots directed the private label division and ran an internal design team. He was responsible for traveling to industry trade shows and identifying trends and market gaps. He created trend reports that steered the buying teams, as well as his own division. Clabots’ team also developed seasonal ranges of soft-goods, and a hard-goods collection that included a private-label sofa line that targeted 90% of consumers with just three styles. The sofa collection was Clabots’ crowning achievement at Fab.com, and he brought it from concept to market in less than six months.
During his time at Fab.com, Clabots and his team worked with the Albers Foundation and the Eames Foundation. He also worked with external designers, such as Taylor Mckenzie-Veal, Isaac Krady, and Joe Doucet. The latter collaboration was what led Joe Doucet to ultimately approach Clabots to be a co-founder at his new startup, OTHR.
Clabots developed trend reports and seasonal mood boards to drive initiatives with the buying teams, internal designers, and external design assets
Clabots’ approach to working with designers was different at Fab.com than it was at OTHR. At Fab.com, rather than beginning with a design brief, as he did at OTHR, Clabots instead acted as a curator of existing concepts and a translator of design development. Clabots would begin by reviewing original submissions from a designer, and based on the needs of the merchants and season style directions, Clabots would select pieces that the fit the brand and agreed with line plan needs. Clabots also took into account the unique voice of each piece and the diversity it would bring to the Fab.com private label products. Once he selected each piece, Clabots would work with the designers to ensure that their concepts met the manufacturing and business needs of the company.
At Fab.com, Clabots also led an internal design team to meet the needs of his planners and merchants. The soft goods designers developed full programs of rugs, bedding, and bath textiles that matched both the business needs and the seasonal style trends. Due to high minimums, Clabots directed his team toward more universal styles that would be best-sellers, trusting the buying teams to fill in the collection with more style-forward, small-volume items. Clabots also worked with hard goods designers to develop a low-cost line of stylish basics.
SIGNATURE SOFA COLLECTION
How do you capture the 90% of the sofa market with 3 sofas?
The Signature Sofa collection was born out of a business problem; Fab.com wanted to become a destination for sofas, but the company had serious concerns about SKU management. To tackle this problem, Clabots worked together with buyers and planners to research the market and develop the brief, "How do you capture 90% of the sofa market with 3 sofas?" By limiting SKUs in each sofa line to 10-15 (including all color variations), Clabots and his team devised 3 different sofas with 3 different SKU allotment plans for each. The sofa lines ranged from stylish to functional, and took into account customers’ preferences for choice versus customization. Clabots worked closely with the sourcing team for this project, traveling to factories and working directly with prototypes to realize the final collection. The entire project took 6 months from defining the brief to designing the sofas, developing product, and launching the collection.
The Cup Sofa was designed to have its own personality while also transforming and adapting to different settings. Its sculptural profile was combined with clean and graphic lines, creating a key silhouette that could range from playful to refined, depending on the sofa color (6 options) and the style of the sofa’s leg (2 options).
The Flip Sofa was born from the business pain-point of SKU management. The collection was designed as a set of sofas with back cushions that could be flipped to look minimal or mid-century, and two sets of legs to complete each look. The collection was designed to provide the most options to address the needs of the most customers. All 3 sofas and the chair were designed to align with the ottoman, which drove the proportions of the collection.
By changing the legs and flipping the back cushions the Flip sofa goes from minimal to mid-century style.
Clip was a configurable sofa system, consisting of 5 modular parts that can be rearranged in hundreds of variations. The bent plywood back-support easily clipped in and out of position, and it could be used for various functions, such as a tray for resting your drink. The same mechanism used for locking the back support in place also connected the base units to lock configurations in place.
The entire project took 6 months from defining the brief, designing the sofas, through product development, and to the launch of the collection, shipping next day from Fab warehouses.