25 May 2024, 13:01
By Furniture News Jan 02, 2021

Hot leads from Chilli Pepper Designs

When lockdown struck and his product imagery ran dry, Indesign Furniture’s Neil Buckley-Jensen responded with typical vigour, pivoting his furniture design and manufacturing operation to encompass CGI marketing services. Seven months on, Chilli Pepper Designs is already one of the best in the business, writes Paul Farley ….

There’s plenty of reasons to embrace digital product visualisation. It gives sellers unparalleled flexibility in how they present their goods online, and it can prove cheaper than traditional photography in the long-term. 

But with an entire industry confronted with massive supply chain disruption, CGI marketing’s most valuable ability has truly come to the fore.

“You can lose weeks on a photo shoot,” says Neil, speaking to Furniture News from his office in Bexhill, East Sussex. “That’s not to mention the time spent travelling to factories, developing prototypes, inspecting them, making the product, shipping it, promoting it to the trade and displaying it in-store, all the while fretting about how popular it’ll prove. In all, you could be waiting 6- 9 months just hoping something works.”

CGI enables suppliers to leapfrog the back-and-forth associated with traditional product development. With Chilli Pepper Designs, new products can be visualised, tweaked and run past key stakeholders in a matter of days, while – or even before – they are being made. With material supplies, shipping, exhibitions and bricks-and-mortar retail all smarting from the Covid-19 effect, CGI is a powerful antidote right now, says Neil.

“I can’t think of a better scenario for buyers,” he notes. “They can buy what they want to – not what the wholesaler tells them they should – and save time and money.

“Right now, people are looking for pipeline products, and our technology offers a bridge from concept to sample creation in less than two weeks, without the costs (and carbon footprint) usually associated with the development of new ranges.”

Neil brings extensive industry experience to the mix, having managed his own cabinet brand, Little Tree Furniture (Indian-manufactured reclaimed furniture, stocked exclusively in the UK by Baker and Barker & Stonehouse) since 2013. While reaching out to overseas prospects with a new contemporary division, Zephyr Furniture, Neil discovered that buyers were increasingly willing to place orders based on high-quality product renders alone – so he began exploring CGI as a way to circumvent his own in-house roadblocks. Consequently, nationwide lockdown sharpened his focus.

“An international Covid-19 frenzy, desperate customers and factory closures – as well as my own photographic frustrations, after trying CGI in China and Eastern Europe and constantly being let down, one way or another – finally made me wake up to the solution, and Chilli Pepper Designs was born,” Neil says. 

“We were up and running in record time, and are now serving customers around the world. Factor in that it suddenly seems to have become normal to buy furniture online, and it’s been a perfect storm for CGI.”

Neil explains that, while young, his business already offers a service that’s head-and-shoulders above many of its contemporaries.

“With Chilli Pepper Designs, it’s not a supplier/buyer scenario with our customers, it’s more of a partnership,” he says. “Being a furniture manufacturer myself, I understand the design side of things, carpentry, in-store displays, etc – and I get what the customer wants, in terms of trends, style and build.

“I’ve seen that furniture can be sold on the strength of renders. Throw CGI into the mix, send some swatches in the mail, and it’s a done deal.”

Kitchen diner (CGI by Chilli Pepper Designs)

Neil also explains that while some of his competitors are content to sell a handful of images set against stock backgrounds, his studio takes a more architectural approach, simulating entire rooms to give clients a wider choice of perspectives, enabling them to choose the angles that best suit their needs.

“What you need to sell furniture is pictures,” Neil concludes, “and we’re a specialist furniture company that knows how to create these images based on briefs, specs, and a good deal of industry experience.

“When I launched Little Tree Furniture, that eco-conscious brand went against the grain – but Chilli Pepper Designs is on another level. CGI marketing is, without a doubt, the future.”

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