Fab’s partnership with the American Design Club is part of a move towards producing original products. Here, Kiel Mead’s Driftwood bottle opener.

As part of its Salone del Mobile exhibit at Tom Dixon’s MOST space, Fab will stage a show of its work with the club. Here, Mead’s Penny ring.

The exhibition will highlight work like Ladies and Gentlemen Studio’s Homestead candle sticks.

At the same time, a Fab-invited jury will pick three products to produce as part of an open competition called Disrupting Design. Here, Rocket Group, a piece by Pat Kim.

Reed Wilson’s Defense Mat.

Steph Mantis’s Animal Butts magnets.

Look for Fab to unveil many more original products over the next few months. Here, a braided necklace that will also be part of the show.

Co.Design

Fab Announces An Open Call To Design Their Next Product

With their first design competition, Fab is moving towards developing original products.

Fab.com is now the fastest growing e-commerce site on the web, with over 12 million members in its network as of last week. Yet despite their ongoing success as a third-party retailer, the company is looking to pivot once again, away from the flash sale model and toward developing Fab as a design brand. The ultimate goal, according to co-founder Bradford Shellhammer, is to become “the world’s alternative to Amazon and Wal-Mart.”

They can’t get there on flash sales alone. Fab’s sales may have grown by 300% this year, but it’s safe to say they’re nowhere close to Amazon’s $97 billion mark. In order to compete with big online retailers, Fab is quickly developing the infrastructure necessary to design and manufacture its own (higher margin) products. They’ve developed more than 3,000 Fab originals over the past few months, in addition to collaborating with the Andy Warhol Foundation and Josef Albers Foundation to bring exclusive products to market. “The only way to compete in the world of Amazon is to sell things that Amazon doesn’t sell,” Shellhammer says. “We’re building a brand, and part of that is bringing the brand to our own line of products.”

This week, Fab will unveil a very public opening salvo in this transition: an open competition called Disrupting Design, which asks designers and students to submit ideas for the company’s next big product. The entries will be judged by a panel of high-profile designers and critics, including Yves Béhar and Amanda Dameron at Salone del Mobile in April. The jury will choose three designs to develop and manufacture, co-branded as Fab x [Designer]. “We’ve built this incredible audience,” Shellhammer explains. “Based on the number of eyeballs alone, we’ve got the ability to really change a designer’s life.”

The competition will serve as a testing ground for Shellhammer’s ideas about co-creating products with designers. He imagines adding a submission form to the Fab website, transitioning toward a Quirky model. But unlike Quirky, whose development team spends weeks assessing the viability of a concept, Fab’s first products will be chosen in less than a day--and by a panel of stars, rather than a panel of product development specialists. “It’ll be like the American Idol of design,” he quipps.

Adopting a more rapid-fire approach could be the key to emerging from the flash-sale mold. Investing in emerging design talent could also be a boon for customer loyalty. The value for designers themselves is obvious. “It’d be one thing to enter a design competition and win an award,” Shellhammer adds. “It’s another thing to know that thousands of people are going to be living with this thing you dreamt up.”

Check out Disrupting Design at Tom Dixon’s MOST space in Milan beginning on April 9. More details about the competition are here.

Add New Comment

9 Comments

  • Ty Blagsvedt

    Well, in the era of Etsy, Wanelo, Fancy, Wantsy and Storemate, the competition is going to grow. Fab definitely understands it well and they have people and capital to do something radically different. Looking at their previous successes, I believe it would not be difficult for them to design and develop native products. Way to go!

  • Zelk

    Not really feasible, they haven't thought this through...Wonder what they will do when    1000 designers show up. give each a split second...

  • Brenna

    Uuuuhhhhmmmm, correct me if I'm wrong here, but this call for entries from any "emerging designer or student who wants to disrupt the industry" pretty much requires said entrant to whisk themselves away to Milan in 3 weeks? Am I missing something?
    Bah, it sounded like a cool idea, anyway....

  • Joe

    Funny that they started Fab as platform where good design is valued, and they want to compete with amazon and Walmart?!

  • Zach Raven

    where is there any information on this? i dont see any links, there is nothing on fab's site. who can enter? when? how much are entry fees? what kind of entries?

  • Shana

    Shana

    Hi, when are results expected on this competition? Would like to see some designs