Target Launches It's Most Varied (and Floral) Collection

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Liberty of London for TargetEleven years ago, a mid-market retailer named Target paired with a postmodern architect named Michael Graves for a line that would end up changing the world. Graves' designs, which included teakettles and paper towel holders, a triple laundry sorter and a drying rack, were promoted as "Design for All."

And now the retailer has gone old-school. Target has teamed up with Liberty of London, a super-traditional (they've been around since 1875) yet somehow totally hip company known for their totally awesome floral prints (no, that's not an oxymoron.) Featuring twenty-five different floral prints across price points ranging from $3.99 for a headband to $199.99 for a bicycle, the line will be the widest-ranging of any collaboration Target's ever done. So, what's it all about? The executive vice president of merchandising, Kathee Tesjia, says that it's all about "whimsical, contemporary design."Liberty of London at TargetThe line is launching on March 14th and will run, as always, for a limited time. What isn't limited is the breadth of the line, which includes throw pillows and dinner plates, dresses and ceramic canisters, teapots and blankets. The fact that putting a Liberty print on each of these items works is testament to the power of a brand, or, in this case, to the power of two.

Target's designs have enough flexibility within their physical plant--how each object is shaped, in other words--that they can sustain the massive change that sticking a bunch of flowers on a garden glove introduces. And Liberty's prints are current enough that these are design moves that actually make sense.

It's a big shift from Target's previous design collaboration, which focused on conceptual heavy-hitters like Michael Graves -- who practically invented postmodernism -- and Dror Benshetrit -- who designs chairs that turn into pictures and buildings that unscrew. The Liberty Line is a little bit more accessible, a little bit less self-conscious, a little bit more design-for-truly-all. While earlier Target collaborations spoke to the idea of design for all, it's collaborations like this one, which span housewares and clothing and accessories and bicycles, that speak to the future of branding and design.

Buying a Michael Graves teapot, even if it was from Target, was still resolutely Michael Graves, and it was the same with Dror's line of literally flippable flipbooks and playful picture frames. Those were designs from the inside out.

Liberty's collaboration, on the other hand, is design from the outside in: a pattern stamp, a tacked-on aesthetic. It's either a lateral shift or just the next step. Either way, history is being made again.
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