At the last count we have featured no fewer than 37 product designers in this month’s issue. We hope you have found it an interesting read. But there is more. Vanessa Van Overmeeren may not be a name you are instantly familiar with, but we think that will change. Vanessa is Head of Product Development at the Belgian carpet tile manufacturer modulyss – and much more.
If you finish this piece and get the impression Vanessa understands the nuts and bolts of design, you will be right. Inspired by both her father and grandfather, who were both employed in the carpet industry, Vanessa was educated at the Hogeschool, Ghent, where
she studied industrial engineering, textiles and chemistry between 1997 and 2001.
Qualifying as a textile engineer, Vanessa’s first job was as a technical/process engineer with a passion for design and colour, which perfectly aligned with a period of engineering manufacturing advances. In a world where technology pervades every part of our life,
it is not surprising that designers like Vanessa are using manufacturing methods to take their designs to a different level, creating products that would have been inconceivable 10
Vanessa tells us that she is ‘inspired by the everyday life, nature, the street scenes, in short, a large spectrum of sources. All you have to do is look around’. However, she also keeps her engineering feet firmly on the ground, taking influence from advances in other sectors, such as the car industry.
Tell us about a typical day
• Discuss different topics with the R&D team
• Working out concepts: idea, yarn, colour, design and how to translate it technically
• Meeting with yarn suppliers
• Follow-up on developments that are in process
• Actively be present when samples are made in production
• Meeting with sales, offering sales support
Like any good business modulyss is looking to stay ahead of the competition and, like other industries, the key is to keep the customer happy. We hear time and again that lead times are a key part of the buying process. Vanessa is clearly proud of the team’s in-house knowledge and technological prowess, which allows them to act faster and to respond to client needs using
in-house technology, notably yarns, tuft & ChromoJET printing
Vanessa has real clarity about where modulyss fits in the carpet title market. ‘The company has more than 25 years’ experience in the carpet tile business yet, having just turned six years old, modulyss has a young, dynamic and driven team that gives us a really youthful and effervescent energy. As part of Europe’s largest carpet manufacturer, Balta Group, modulyss has the benefit of being flexible to move according to market conditions but having the support of the parent company.
Asked about trends, Vanessa responds in the manner you would expect from a design/engineer. Accordingly Vanessa suggests that the biggest changes include the acceptance of carpet tile’s strength and the modularity nature of the product, the infinite design and colour customisation – but she warns that design has to be balanced by constant innovation in functionality and performance in combination with sustainability and all while ensuring a competitive price.
Clearly the end result of any manufacturer is to sell their products to the right audience at the right margin. A&D are a key target market for modulyss. ‘I think it’s important that we separate ourselves from other manufacturers,’ Vanessa considers. ‘modulyss has become a challenger to the established giants, with our own clear sense of identity. modulyss also has the ability to make our entire standard collection ready to ship, rather than making to order. However, we are now really stretching our legs in our current crop of designs and this is something that will help us create clear space as a leader in design rather than a follower.’
So what can we expect from Vanessa and her team in the future? ‘Technically speaking, we are pushing towards a combination of creativity, functionality and sustainability throughout our new products, responding to the demand of transparency and better articulation from the A&D community. We are also investing in new manufacturing technology that will open up fresh design possibilities and are already implementing an ultra-sonic cutting machine that will help us to double capacity.’
So along with Tin Tin, Eddy Merckx, Audrey Hepburn and Vincent Kompany, we have a new famous Belgium to add to our list.