By Ariane Moore
“ Good design is mindful of the people it’s designed for: what are their needs, what’s their state of mind, how does it make them feel? A lot of people—and too many designers—think first about aesthetics as an indicator of the quality of design, but that leaves us with products and services that look good but are terrible to use.” ~ Wantful CEO, John Poisson
In our most recent issue of the magazine, we introduced readers to a new style of gifting offered by Wantful, and the mastermind behind it, CEO John Poisson. He created a unique online retail destination that reinvents gift giving. The entire company from the website, the gifts offered, the well thought out process of opening the gift, and even the offices of Wantful have one thing in common – beautiful design.
Wantful’s aesthetic originated from Poisson’s own personal style. “Personally, I think I respond most viscerally to products that have a minimal or traditional form, but with some twist that makes them unique. I’m allergic to clutter, and excessive ornamentation” explains Poisson. The company’s overall design has since evolved, as the Wantful team and audience have both grown. The main tenets of the company however have remained unchanged: “the products…need to be thoughtfully designed, well made, beautiful, and unique.” Poisson also draws inspiration for Wantful’s design style from his surroundings. He explains, “Much of the inspiration for Wantful came from my time living in Tokyo, and lots of what’s coming in this season is from Italian and French designers. Our recent trip there was incredibly fruitful.”
Although Poisson remains actively involved in the selection of products for the site, he credits his talented merchandising team for discovering distinctive products to offer consumers. Poisson reveals, “…they’re very, very hard to scoop”. Even though Poisson’s favorite product design is Apple, he is currently obsessed with the design of a few new products found on Wantful – “new pillows from Rouge du Rhin, incredible glass domes from Secondome in Italy, and the Japanese titanium cups from Easter Accent”.
The brand’s design ethic can also be seen in the company’s main offices, located in San Francisco, CA. The space, formerly the Avalon Ballroom, was built in the 1930’s. It has 25-foot high ceilings, balconies overlooking the main room, and Neoclassical details. To balance out the traditional design of the original space, Poisson is outfitting the office in modern Italian, with big sofas and a large coffee bar in the middle. This open office layout, complemented by communal style desks, creates a casual and interactive atmosphere perfect for the Wantful team.
With an innovative new twist on the sometimes difficult task of gift giving, an exquisite selection of gift ideas to choose from, a beautiful and interactive website, and a drool-worthy office space, I think it’s clear that John Poisson and Wantful know a thing or two about what makes a good design, well…good.