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A lifestyle shot of MADE.COM TALENT_LAB COLLECTION 2 comprised of various bits of furniture, lighting and home accessories

You may have noticed from quite a few of my product round-up posts that I’ve always been a bit of a fan of MADE.COM (affiliate). Ever since I first discovered MADE.COM back in 2010 and interviewed their co-founder Ning Lee in 2011, I have been a big fan of the company and the products that they sell. I’ve always admired their mission which was, at the time, to bring original design to the masses by stripping out the middlemen and connecting consumers with the furniture makers directly.

Clearly, the company has evolved and changed over the years and the range of products that MADE stocks has grown significantly. But the aim of bringing high-end lifestyle design to everyone, everywhere at a fair price has remained. And MADE is one of my first ports of call when I’m scouting for unique designer pieces that don’t blow the bank balance completely out of the water.

What I really like about MADE though is that it works with some really well known and celebrated designers to create its product range.  On its books you will find the likes of Ptolemy MannSir Terence Conran, Kate Watson Smyth, Felix Conran, Lindsey Lang, and Niki Jones. But alongside these established names, MADE is championing new designers and that is what I wanted to talk about today.

A collage of products from the MADE.COM TalentLAB Collection 2 featuring furniture, lighting and accessories

TalentLAB (affiliate) is MADE.COM’s new crowdfunding platform that provides an opportunity for new designers to launch their careers with the help of potential MADE customers. The platform allows designers to submit their designs for consideration by MADE’s Design Director, Ruth Wassermann, and her team who shortlist 15 to 30 designs every two months. Then the shortlisted designs are prototyped, photographed and added to the TalentLAB website.

Once online, MADE’s customers are able to pay a small refundable deposit of £5 to show their interest in a certain product. The products that receive the most interest and reach 100% of their funding target will be manufactured and sold by MADE. So you can see how this process supports a new generation of up-and-coming designers, helping them get a foothold in the industry.

But it also enables consumers to get their hands on original designs that can’t be found elsewhere. What’s even more appealing is that those people who have shown interest in a design that is eventually manufactured will then be able to purchase them with a 30% early-bird discount on the final MADE price. And if they change their mind and no longer want to purchase the design they will be given a full refund on their deposit.

A collage of products from the MADE.COM TalentLAB Collection 2 featuring furniture, lighting, storage and a rug

The idea for TalentLAB (affiliate) came out of the MADE Emerging Talent Award, which is an annual competition for up-and-coming designers to break into the industry and get their product made and sold. Each year, MADE received thousands of incredible entries – but only one piece could win. The winning product for 2016 was the Cairn side table by KIMXGENSAPA, which was such a hit with MADE customers that it is now one of their best-selling products. Launching TalentLAB was an obvious way to ensure that more new designers could be discovered and get their products made.

And it’s not just trained designers who can take advantage of TalentLAB. Anyone can submit an idea, as long as they are able to represent that idea visually through a detailed drawing, a photograph or a render. The only restriction is that the idea must fall within the general product types that are currently sold on MADE.COM, which are furniture, home accessories, tabletop and kitchenware, bathroom accessories and textiles, bags, games, and sports equipment.

Anyone who submits a product idea to TalentLAB will get the opportunity to have their designs seen by MADE’s expert design team and, if successful, to work with the buying team and suppliers through the product development stage to come up with a sample of their product. They basically get to work with the MADE design team just as any regular designer already on their books does. This provides them with some extremely valuable experience that will stand them in good stead for their future career.

A collage of products from the MADE.COM TalentLAB Collection 2 featuring furniture, storage and accessories

The launch collection was extremely successful with 11 of the 17 shortlisted designs being fully funded. The latest collection, which is currently seeking funding, is the Ready-to-Work Collection which features lamps, coffee tables, benches rugs and more. Three products have already hit their funding target and others are well on their way. So if you want to help a new designer launch their career and get their product manufactured and sold by MADE, get your deposit paid now. This could change someone’s life and the products are all so lovely, it’s a win-win situation.

Let me know which of the TalentLAB (affiliate) products above is your favourite and which ones you think will go into production.

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