Fab.com may be the web’s fastest growing e-commerce site, but its ambitions don’t stop there. The real aim, its founders have said, is to grow Fab into a global design brand–a stylish alternative to giants like Amazon and Wal-Mart–and the company has already designed over 3000 original products to that end. In March, Fab announced another initiative for expanding its offerings: a crowdsourced competition, calling for designers around the world to submit their ideas for the company’s next big product. Now, they’ve narrowed the field down to 12 finalists–two of which you can see here for the first time–and announced a second competition, coinciding with this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City.
The first Disrupting Design competition, which was held last month in Milan, drew submissions from over 150 international designers. Though the company had initially intended to select three winning designs to sell on the site, the strength of the submissions was such that the judges, including Yves Behar, Rob Forbes, and others, ended up shortlisting 12 to put into production.
One of the finalists is a simple metal end table by Urbanize, a Belgian studio comprised of recent graduates Pieter Dauwe and Joachim Van Durme, that cleverly combines a flat surface and a v-shaped storage slot into a single lightweight piece. The second is a set of pastel candle holders by designers Gemma Roper and Sophie Borch-Jacobsen, who work under the name Nice To Be Nice Studio. All the finalists will share revenue with Fab for the sale of products they designed, and Fab’s currently ironing out contracts with the other ten winners, who will be announced later this month.
“The winning designs all embody the Fab ethos,” says Shellhammer, Fab’s founder and chief design officer. “Each one solves a problem. Each design has a great story. Each one has an interesting material or form. Most have a sense of humor, a sense of whimsy. And most importantly, I think they’d all be appreciated by the Fab community of 12 million design lovers.”
But for Fab, which recently opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Hamburg, Germany, the crowdsourcing won’t be a one-off experiment. Building on the success of the first competition, it’s announcing a second open call for up-and-coming designers, coinciding with ICFF later this month. Designers are encouraged to pre-register their proposals by emailing email@example.com; presentations to the jury will happen at the Javitz Center in New York City on May 21, between 1 and 3 p.m. This time around the judges include acclaimed New Zealand-based designer David Trubridge and Eames Demetrios, director of the Eames Office (and grandson to Charles and Ray), among others.