Designing for Local Needs
How important is it to design for a local market, and what benefits are there for designers who keep location a focus
There’s something about modern design that implies a need for internationality. Design events promote international guests, international brands have a prestige image, and local brands are often focused on international expansion. Yet there must be something said in focusing on local needs.
Aside from promoting a healthy local design culture, an immediate benefit in focusing locally has to be the environmental impact, or lack thereof. A lower carbon mile number means smaller emissions, and a smaller bill for the designer.
Outside of the cost and environmental benefits, a local focus also benefits the customer. A focus on local markets allows for versatility in design through immediate feedback, and no one knows this more than Catapult Design.
“When you have a look at our GEO table series, as an example, we deliberately developed a range of products that we knew could be manufactured locally,” says Catapult co-founder Leigh Johnson. “These could be made quite versatile, be adapted by the customer to suit their purposes and can be continually tweaked to reflect changing tastes”
An eye for local design also allows designers an easier platform for quality collaboration. Not bound to issues of international communication, local designers are able to collaborate in organic and naturalistic ways to create great ideas.
This is something Catapult had in mind from inception, “We had repeatedly been approached by people wanting something locally made, beautiful, yet affordable and available relatively quickly” says co-founder Aaron Zorzo. “Again and again we struggled to find solutions, and so when it came time to design our own pieces we knew we had to keep that forefront in our minds”
This idea of items being able to be released with speed is another benefit to local collaboration and design focus. On the benefits of this speed, we need look no further than Catapult’s rapid product turnover rate. Leigh Johnson says “This year Catapult is launching three new variants at Sydney In Design — again, we’re responding quickly to what our clients and customers are telling us and asking for, which is developing custom products and then seeing them through to become additions to the range.”
It’s easy to forget our place in the world with such an ongoing international focus in the industry. Yet local, Australian design is an ever-growing industry, in both quality and quantity, and keeping an eye on local design allows designers to quickly reflect aesthetic demands and adjust to budgets and projects on the fly.