Snowe Founders Andres Modak and Rachel Cohen courtesy of Snowe
New York based brand Snowe has imagined a constellation of looks for the home, ranging from various modes of living (dining, sleeping, etc). And in that very same universe of accessories for living spaces and fine pieces for eating, the duo has curated a look book of items that defy the term luxury. Yet there is absolutely no denying that the amount of added effort and meticulous scrutiny subjected to each bowl, each dining set, each linen piece. And that, my friends, is what we call luxury.
We’ve had the opportunity to chat with founders Rachel Cohen and Andres Modak about the unique crossroads of luxury design and intimate home essentials that cuts a singular line through their brand catalog. And they didn’t hedge on what being happy, comfortable and accessible means to them.
CRAVE: How did Snowe come about? And why SNOWE?
SNOWE: When we set out to create our New York City home together, we were unhappy with the disposable quality and ubiquity of design in mass-produced homewares – at least those we were able to afford. High-design, luxury offerings we would fall in love with were always extremely overpriced and inaccessible. So we set out to create a solution in a brand. We believe that thoughtful design and enduring quality didn’t need to be out of our reach. We were particularly inspired by the idea that good design balances form, function, honesty, durability and really is all about the details – from using the best materials or solving everyday problems that we all know too well. We launched Snowe to create all the things we wanted for our home but could never find – and in the process unearthed an overwhelming appetite from others for the exact same need.
We chose the name Snowe because it was first, and foremost, a name. It was a name that we could build a brand around–one that was malleable while still being personified and human. It could embody our brand personality, one that is sophisticated, effortless, thoughtful and unconventional. At the same time, the name has a subtle beautiful connotation to it, and an underlying allusion to snow. This conjures feelings of serenity, tranquility and a blank canvas – a perfect foundation to build your life, your home on.
Describe your brainstorming process that eventually led to the look book that we currently have for Snowe. Where did these 5 constellations Eat, Drink, Sleep, Bathe and Bundles come from?
We spent many months designing the Snowe brand and its expression visually, in voice, and various other media. This included diving deep into the opportunity that we saw, speaking to customers about their everyday gripes with the products they had and the elements that were most important to them and finding ways to turn what we saw in the home space on its head.
As for the different categories, we really wanted to look at the key product categories in a different light – in the way we actually live with the product and the context in which it’s used and enjoyed. We looked at the key categories in the home and the products in each of those that were truly essential to starting a home, and this included what you find in Eat, Drink, Sleep, Bathe. Not coincidentally, the most important moments that matter each day occur in these areas. We focused on giving everything you need and nothing you don’t — foundational pieces of enduring quality and timeless, versatile design that can be used over and over. We often draw the comparison to fashion – our products are the jeans and white t-shirt of home … the pieces you can’t live without, that are the foundation, and that work for any occasion or aesthetic for years and years.
We created the bundles as part of our goal to simplify the shopping experience for our customers. We wanted to take the guesswork out of choosing exactly what you need to begin or upgrade a particular part of your life, or even your entire home while providing a discount to offer our customers even greater value.
Luxury can be a dirty word in design. Occasionally it leaves out the kind of customer who might faithfully return for seconds and thirds. How does Snowe differ from other luxury brands and still retain a luxury design aesthetic? Can design and functional products coexist in the same catalogue?
It’s definitely a loaded term, particularly in retail and design. It often times is used to describe something that only a few can attain, and at Snowe, we feel strongly about the democratization of design. By creating exceptional products of the highest quality and offering them at attainable prices, we believe we are doing this – in this way we are different from traditional luxury brands. We also prefer to show how we all (collectively) can live with products throughout the wonderful imperfections we encounter every day. For us, it’s less about ‘luxury’ and more about the quality of product, we have become accustomed to expect from top luxury brands. We offer this same enduring, lasting quality at a fraction of the price point so that our customers can get real value in the products.
In design we look to weigh both form and function, being sure to always use timeless, contemporary-classic forms that are versatile and understatedly beautiful. But function is just as important. Products need to be practical and the design details need to be life-improving and enriching. Whether it’s the duvet cover that will always stay perfectly on your duvet, the chef’s towel that doubles as an apron or the exceptional stemware that you can throw into the dishwasher after your dinner party. These products shouldn’t need to feel so precious and only saved for special occasions. Practicality and luxury quality don’t need to be mutually exclusive! Dieter Rams’ principles of good design incorporate many of these perspectives, as his work was a major inspiration to us.
You’re using Limoges porcelain for many of the dinnerware. Why was this an important choice for the line? You also couple this with your glassware. Blending the two mediums is an interesting visual choice for dining and living spaces. Describe your process for curating your lookbook and keeping it fresh.
All of our dinnerware uses Limoges porcelain because we feel this is the highest grade of porcelain available. Limoges is incredibly resilient even with a very low profile and refined form, not to mention a spectacular shade of white. Our glassware uses lead-free, crystallized glass, which again allows for great aesthetics and resilience. You can set an amazing table for your guests or just enjoy that glass of wine alone after that long day of work. Care and clean-up is simple since you can throw both in the dishwasher as we wanted to ensure practicality and ease!
We are constantly developing and releasing new key products (see what’s new here: ). All our products go through the same development rubric and objectives.
How much of this design is about traditional concepts? How much is breaking the rules? You have manufacturers in Europe but are New York based. Would you consider yourself an American influenced design brand or a European one? How much of your experiences in NY have informed the look and feel of Snowe? How much has Portugal for instance been crucial in Snowe’s image?
At Snowe, we stand by certain key principles. One of these is to balance tradition with ‘doing your own thing’. There are design traditions and aesthetic inspirations that we salute and incorporate. However, there are many that we must constantly question and approach differently. For instance, we always ask why has this one element stayed the same for decades, and in today’s world, is it still applicable. When it comes to our design influences, we often take inspiration from many things around us and are constantly evolving. Our careful selection of partner manufacturers in Europe and America has buttressed our quality messaging, which is essential to building trust with our new and repeat consumers.
When it came to customer-centric design and merchandising, we were our own customer – one with incredible access to design inspiration and information and unsatisfied with the status quo. We are a generation that values quality craftsmanship over traditional brand names and one that seeks out something special and enduring. Snowe, at its core, is about how we live today – the ‘millennial mindset’, not just those between the ages of 15 and 35. We created products for how people really live – from a formal dinner party to eating takeout on the couch. This carries through to all we do as entrepreneurs – never being satisfied with good enough and always wanting to push boundaries to take a different approach – be it solving a small problem or simplifying the entire experience of shopping for your home.
There are some interesting buzzwords that pop from the Snowe story, the two big ones being home and family. What is home/family in the context of the Snowe lookbook? What kind of families and/or friends eat, drink, sleep, bathe and essentially live with the Snowe brand in their daily routine?
Interesting that you picked up on these two, because we are constantly thinking about what these two words mean in today’s world, and what we’ve found is that they can manifest completely differently from one example to the next. Our products are designed to apply to a whole host of lifestyles and families. What’s common throughout them all though, is a love of good design, a desire to enrich and elevate the everyday moments that can matter most, and an embracing of the wonderful imperfections that are part of our every day. However, we think most of these moments can, as we like to say, “Start with Snowe.”
What’s next for Snowe? Any appearances at any of the upcoming Design events? Where can people find you and purchase from the catalog?
We have a lot of exciting things on the horizon – new products, new exciting partnerships and collaborations and several exciting shoppable events coming up soon. Sign up for our emails (http://snowehome.com/pages/subscribe) to stay up to date with what’s going on. But those interested can always shop the site at www.snowehome.com.