Tiffany & Co. has taken concerted efforts to increase the speed of its jewelry launches.
The jeweler — under a revise by chief artistic officer Reed Krakoff and chief executive officer Alessandro Bogliolo — has built something of a think tank named the JDIW, or Jewelry Design and Innovation Workshop.
Located within a block of the company’s headquarters, the offsite location’s main premise is to “figure out how to take a concept design from a sketchpad to the manufacturing floor. It’s about taking the intricacies of that design and making it something that’s functional. For us, innovation means a lot of things — we talk about materials, we talk about technique and we talk about design — we have all of those going on,” explained Dana Naberezny, the JDIW’s vice president, who oversees the facility’s operations. She is a jewelry design and manufacturing veteran, with past experience that includes time spent at Tiffany.
The workshop’s intentions are two-prong: Tiffany sees it as a space to develop innovative manufacturing techniques that will add intrigue to new collections. It is also a mode of speeding up the jewelry production cycle. By focusing on the manufacturing processes that lie between concept design and mass production, Tiffany hopes it can bring new efficiency to its product development practices.
Bogliolo said of the facility in a statement to WWD: “Tiffany & Co.’s recently opened jewelry design and innovation workshop, only steps from our New York office, allows designers, model-makers and engineers to collaborate side-by-side and bring our designs to life, fostering exciting innovation both in our craftsmanship and use of precious metals and gemstones. Reed and our design team are not bound by traditional ideas of jewelry design, and neither are we in our approach to jewelry making,”
While the workshop opened under Bogliolo’s tenure, it has been in the works for some time. The concept was originally hatched under former ceo Frederic Cumenal.
The facility officially opened on April 1 and represents a significant investment by Tiffany, though the company declined to provide financial specifics. It employs CAD designers, jewelers, model-makers, engineers and quality management professionals. At least one of each role is assigned to a specific collection to work as a collaborative team.
The workshop will eventually grow to employ 80 technicians — sending Tiffany on something of a hiring spree to staff the facility. Initial staff was culled from preexisting Tiffany workshops, some relocated from facilities in Westchester and Rhode Island.
“The process of what happens here still existed before, but it existed in different locations. Now with one location we can increase efficiency — the name of the game is speed,” Naberezny said. “I think as you hear Bogliolo talk about a need to amp up the volume of product introductions and we need to meet that.”
The workshop is hatching development strategies for all Tiffany jewelry collections set to launch through 2020. Given the JDIW’s involvement in longer-lead projects, Naberezny calls its mission “flexibility to market,” rather than “speed to market.”
“I say flexibility because whether you want it in a month or a year, our job is to fulfill that — it depends on what is right for the company and merchandising plans,” she said.
The JDIW includes high-tech smart televisions where CAD designers can draw directly on a projected sketch and is also home to a sample development room. Appearing something like a condensed manufacturing facility, the sample workshop includes traditional machinery like welding machines and benches as well as newer technologies including laser welders and 3-D printers.
“We are constantly looking into new materials and new technologies to apply to new collections. Taking whatever is in [the designer’s] head and working through it — taking the intricacies of their design and infusing it with technology. It allows us to get to manufacturing faster but also allows us to give [the factory] so much more information about the piece, so they can be successful more quickly. As you go down the development process, it’s about supporting the volume, speed and vision of the designer to get that product to the sales floor,” Naberezny said.