HomePop Spotlight: Q&A with Kate Woletz, HomePop Director of Product Design
Have you ever wondered how a passion for interior design can unfold as a product developer? This week, we're shining the spotlight on our very own Kate Woletz, HomePop's Director of Product Design. Kate loves to travel and uses her inspiration to create the cozy HomePop accent furniture that steps up the comfort and utility for our customer's spaces!
Tell us about your career journey, if there is a North Star that has been a recurring theme in your career decisions.
Before working at HomePop, I worked in product design and development at Target Corporation in Home Décor. I loved developing products that make people happy and that elevate a space to a new level! I wanted to have a career where I would be able to travel back and forth to Asia and create amazing products for the American market! I love Asia and have spent years living there, so my role at HomePop is a perfect fit for me in creativity and travel! The North Star in my career has always been be able to travel for my job and use my creativity to bring to life products that will make people happy.
What is your favorite HomePop item you've designed?
I’m really inspired by Scandinavian designs, specifically Danish designs, so I have loved working on some new mid-century modern and Scandinavian inspired pieces! I love using plush, tactile fabrics on modern designs paired with light wood. I love making furniture that has a warm appeal – using curved forms and comforting fabrics.
HomePop Sherpa Collection designed by Kate Woletz, HomePop Director of Product Design.
What is your favorite design style? Your favorite colors, fabrics, design aesthetic, or favorite designers you follow?
I love European and Scandinavian designs! I love very simple color palettes (white, natural, clean faux leather, matte velvets) that are rich with textural appeal and echo natural elements. I love the inherit value of a piece of furniture – the form, the wood tone, the natural appeal of the fabric. I love the look and feel of clean linen and fresh cotton and appreciate the value a piece of furniture can bring to an interior space. I follow the work of the great designers of the past…my first love was Frank Lloyd Wright who was an renown architect but also a furniture designer! Also the Eames in their work of ingenuity in furniture, style and function.
What is an emerging trend that has caught your eye personally (not for HomePop, but for yourself)?
I really like the use of old fashioned design in caning and art deco style that echo the style of the 1920’s and 1930’s. I have always loved Art Deco design and style in buildings, especially in New York and Miami, and seeing it brought into modern designs is really fun to see! I’m a big history buff so I love seeing versions of the old and new mixed together in modern designs and brought into the mass market. Design is constantly changing but always borrows elements from the past.
How do you design for a myriad of design profiles, do you have to actively disassociate yourself from your preferences or do you use your bias to HomePop's advantage? How do you balance your taste with market demands?
I have been working in the mass market of product design now for about 10 years so I know instinctively what people will gravitate to. There are many different types of customers out there so I try to keep in mind the customer first – what they will like, what they will use the piece of furniture for and what types of colors, styles and designs will fit their current interiors. This is constantly changing so it’s important that I keep up on trends but also where the mid-tier market is as well to make sure HomePop pieces are highly saleable!
Does your life outside of HomePop influence your designs?
I love spending time in nature and with talented design friends - less on social media! This is what inspires me most and encourages me in my creativity. I am an artist by nature and spend a lot of time drawing and painting watercolors as well! I also read a lot of books on history of design which also helps fuel new ideas and creativity for new HomePop products. There is nothing new under the sun – good designers are masters at combing design elements from the past and present in ways that have not been combined or created before! This is my favorite thing to do!
Is there anything that has surprised you as a product designer?
There is an incredible amount of market research and design psychology that goes into creating best-selling products. The outside aesthetic is merely the tip of the iceberg – the real work is understanding how the elements all work in harmony with one another to make a seamless design. The most beautiful and function designs are shockingly very SIMPLE and profound. The beauty of a piece is found in the inherit nature of the piece – not just it’s outward appeal. I say as a designer it’s what I deduct from a design, not what I add. Less is more!
What would be your advice to anyone looking to learn more about interior designer, go to resources to follow, etc.
My advice would be to seek out a really great program that focuses on theory and research in design, not just technical skills. There is a lot of design psychology that goes into good design that is sometimes forgotten about in taking interior design or product design courses!