Revisions Design Studio is many things at once; a design house for working artists, a laboratory for creating interesting household décor and accessories, and a dream come true for owner and designer, Michele Dugree. Located in Marquette, Mich., Revisions Design Studio is home to Dugree and two other artists who put their skills to work designing memorable, vintage-inspired products. Their artisan approach has given rise to three distinct product lines: Eco Elements, Urban Analog, and The Silver Lining.
Eco Elements focuses on distinctive porcelain housewares and accessories. Urban Analog treads further into the realm of modern décor. The Silver Lining is decidedly vintage, comprised of upcycled home and personal accessories fashioned from reclaimed silver flatware.
Revisions Design products are found in select boutiques and specialty shops around the country as well as their own online shop, and the company has been commissioned by many outside organizations for unique projects. The organization represents a new approach to niche houseware manufacturing and an evolution of the American artisan model, affording Revisions Design Studio a bright, if nostalgic, future.
Read our interview with owner and designer, Michele Dugree.
When was Revisions Design Studio formed and when were the three lines launched?
I founded Revisions back in May of 2008. At the beginning, I was mainly focused on porcelain ceramic home accessories and jewelry. Over the years, as new ideas formed, we started to branch into other materials. In August of 2011 we divided our product lines into the three distinct brands.
Does your studio engage in other design work in addition to designing products for Eco Elements, Urban Analog, and The Silver Lining?
One of my favorite parts about this job is getting the opportunity to work with other companies and artists. We have designed and manufactured corporate promotional products, constructed custom components for high-end retail window displays and even designed a custom porcelain chandelier for a fine art center. It’s great never knowing what new project you will find in your inbox every morning.
How were the three product lines created and developed?
The one common theme that carries through all of our design lines is vintage inspirations. I found myself wanting to create a nostalgic feeling to our products. Sometime it was done literally through using upcycled materials, other times it came by way of reproducing classic forms in new materials. After a while the lines really started to develop themselves. The Silver Lining has a very classic, timeless elegance while Urban Analog brings a modern edge to vintage design. Eco Elements is a nice mix of both making it very transitional and just right for any home décor setting.
Which of your materials are recycled, upcycled or repurposed?
Everything you see in The Silver Lining was made from antique silver flatware. We hunt down different patterns at estate sales and thrift stores. The upcycling process is very fulfilling when you can take something that nobody uses anymore and give it a new appreciation as something with a completely different purpose. Also, behind the scenes, all of our packing and shipping materials are recycled. The receiving department at a large paper mill near by gives us all of their Styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap that they were previously throwing away. It makes me feel good to know that we can save this from a landfill instead of purchasing it new.
Do you make your products in-house, or just the design prototypes?
Absolutely everything is designed AND manufactured in-house. We love the fact that this gives us complete control of the quality and lead time of production. It also feels great to stamp on the box, “Made in the USA!”
Why did you choose to focus on porcelain for Eco Elements?
Not only is porcelain beautiful and strong, but it also has wonderful qualities such as translucency. I love the modern feel that stark white porcelain can give to a vintage form. Also, when fully vitrified, porcelain can hold water without the use of a glaze. Raw porcelain has always been a finish that has appealed to me.
Can you describe your design process?
It always starts with an inspiration. I find this most while engaging in my favorite pastime, thrifting and antiquing! I always carry a sketchbook to jot down quick ideas. I also have a habit of purchasing materials before I know what I will do with them. In the studio we have a “magic closet” filled with everything from scraps of leather to old lamp parts. When the creative bug strikes, I go to the closet and just start building things. Once a product idea starts to take shape, it’s on to prototype phase where we workout all of the production bugs, pricing and packaging requirements.
Revisions Design Studio offers design products at affordable prices. Was this a goal for the organization? What are your other goals?
What started as a hobby for me has really grown into being able to do what I love for a living. I am a huge proponent for handmade design and will continue to promote and support other artists who would love to make stuff for a living. I believe that it is possible to compete with cheap products made in China through selling your story and providing something that a big corporation cannot, a real person! My goal is to provide beautiful products at affordable prices that tell a story of not only what they are in form, but about the maker who crafted them as well.
In the next year I would love to expand our Eco Elements line to contain some Terra Cotta designs I’ve had in my head for a while. I would also love to open a brick and mortar retail location. I love people and the extrovert in me would love to interact with my customers face to face instead of just through a computer.
What design philosophies or mantras do you hold dear?
First and foremost do what you love. Others will love it too and success will follow. Also, try not to take yourself too seriously. If you’re always feeling like you have to re-invent the wheel, the pressure alone will keep you from doing anything at all. I’ve learned that the best ideas come when you’re not designing, but just living.