Clabots reframes the questions we ask to redefine design as a tool for business
Throughout his professional career, Clabots has worked as a designer, a creative director, a university professor, and as a serial entrepreneur, having started and run a series of design-related businesses. At the core of his thought process are three questions: Why? How? and What?
Why: Clabots believes that the impetus behind creating anything should be rooted in a clear understanding of why it is new, needed, and relevant. By observing and questioning changes in markets, manufacturing processes, society, and the environment, we can identify new design opportunities.
How: Clabots believes we can open the doors for innovation simply reframing the questions we ask about the world. By questioning how paradigms shift, we are able to identify white-spaces for new products, businesses, and services that can better our businesses and our lives.
What: Once we have answered the first two questions, we can clearly understand what the new offering needs to be.
With his years of execution and industry know-how, Clabots is able to deftly bring these offerings to life. His work is not driven by his own taste or intuition; rather, it is driven by a systematic understanding of how to identify opportunity and capitalize on it.
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 a 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. This has been true for 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 has shown 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.
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 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 has worked for brands ranging from startups to industry leaders, having led branding, packaging design, art direction, print catalogs, and more
Since founding his first company in 2010, Clabots has continuously expanded his creative endeavors beyond product design. Over the years, he has delved into art and creative direction, as well as creating branding strategies for various companies.
Naturally, Clabots began developing these skills using his own companies as platforms. With Nonlinear Studio, Clabots art directed a number of photo and video shoots, working alongside ad firms and production companies such as Mother NYC, Ikon 3, and Rooster NYC. As Creative Director of his company Amplifiear, Clabots created the branding, art directed all photography and video, designed and built the eCommerce platform, and designed all packaging and collateral for the company. in 2014, after working at Fab.com for a number of years, Clabots again returned to his own design practice. Here, he revamped the catalogs of lighting company Sonneman and developed packaging for clients such as Icypod. In 2016, he collaborated with firms such Established NYC and Tomoro/// on a number of branding strategy projects. Today, Clabots continues to work in branding strategy and creative direction on a consulting basis.
For Clabots, there is no line between 2D and 3D design. He approaches each situation with the same questions of Why, How and What? By stepping back to understand design as a business need, by identifying desired outcomes, and utilized his various skills across multiple platforms, Clabots is able to provide critical creative direction for startups and industry leaders alike. Clabots not only provides guided conceptual direction, but he also has the experience and skill sets to execute, from deep inside CSS code to the set of a video shoot.
A graduate of RISD, Clabots is an award-winning designer who has developed successful products for multiple industries
Throughout his career, Clabots has designed products across multiple industries, ranging from highly-engineered, injection-molded products to furniture and textiles. His design methods are neither industry- nor style-specific; instead, he uses design to find solutions that bring value to both his clients and their customers.
Formally trained as an industrial designer at the Rhode Island school of Design (RISD), Clabots' first entry point into the creative industry was as Lead Designer at Dror. There, he led the product design and interior design departments. In this role, Clabots developed a wide range of products, including a trivet for Alessi, a bathroom cabinet for Boffi, a chair for Cappellini, and a full range of affordable furniture and bedding for Target. He also led the team in designing a luggage collection for Tumi, which received multiple patents for a mechanism that Clabots conceived for their zipper-less, expandable, hard suitcase. At Dror, Clabots has also led the design of commercial interiors for companies such as Levi's Footwear and Creative Recreation. His work at Dror won the Red Dot Award, the Good Design Award, and was selected for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Permanent Collection.
At Nonlinear Studio, which Clabots founded in 2010 and ran for three years, he designed a full anodized aluminum cookware set for All-Clad, a watch that sold at the MoMA Design Store, and an iPad periphery device. As Design Director at Fab.com, starting in 2013, Clabots designed full lines of furniture and soft goods, along with a sofa collection.
Most recently, Clabots designed a shelving system and rugs for Hem, and various products for the startup he co-founded, OTHR.
Clabots has built companies from the ground up, from bootstrap consultancies to award-winning design brands
Over his career, Clabots has founded and run four companies. The first was his design studio, Nonlinear Studio, which he founded in 2010. This company was a multidisciplinary design consultancy that focused on assisting other companies with their product design and creative direction. During the three and a half years that he ran Nonlinear Studio, Clabots also founded two consumer-goods companies. These included a self-titled watch brand, Nonlinear, and Amplifiear, a company that produced an iPad sound amplification device originally funded on Kickstarter.
In 2013, Clabots was offered the role of Senior Vice President of Design for the then-booming design startup, Fab.com. Clabots closed his three prior companies and took this job, in which he led the company’s design team and eventually facilitated the transition of his division to the offshoot, Hem. Less than a year later, Clabots co-founded OTHR with fellow designer Joe Doucet and owner of Tokyo Bike USA, Dean DiSimone. Here, Clabots served as the company’s Chief Design Officer for two and a half years before stepping back from a day-to-day role and transitioning to an Advisor.
A self-proclaimed ‘watch-phile’, Clabots designed the Slip Watch as a concept piece when launching his design studio in 2010. A true bootstrap endeavor, he started a watch company, producing a thousand units to begin. He handled all elements of the company, including sourcing; designing and coding the e-commerce platform; developing the branding and packaging; hiring a sales team; and attending trade shows. While in production, Nonlinear watches could be found in all of the top, international e-commerce watch stores, as well as the MoMA Design Store and Chez Maman in Paris.
In 2011, Clabots launched Amplifiear in response to a growing demand among Kickstarter supporters for Apple periphery devices. Clabots crowdfunded the product and company on Kickstarter and received 456% of the funding goal. Again, he managed all elements of this company, including directing all videography, art direction, and photography. He directed the branding and packaging, sourced the production locally, and set up a sales team. The company received enormous attention in the press, and the product was included in the MoMA's exhibit 'Made in NYC' in 2013.
In 2015, Clabots co-founded OTHR with designer Joe Doucet and owner of Tokyo Bike USA, Dean DiSimone. This company is an award-winning leader of design innovation, producing on-demand, 3D-printed homewares designed by the world’s top talent. OTHR and its products have won a Wallpaper* Design Award and the Inc's 2017 Design Award for Most Entrepreneurial Design Studio. The company has also been nominated for Design Museum London's Beazley Designs of the Year in the digital category and by Fast Company's Innovation by Design Award in the Products category.
CLIENTS & PARTNERS
Clabots has engaged in projects with various clients while at Dror, Nonlinear Studio, Fab.com, and OTHR as well as through his private consulting work.