By Duke Ratliff
Attendees at last month’s International Home + Housewares Show who were looking for something a little different were in luck at the exhibition space for DCI.
Not your typical gifty housewares company, DCI marries fashion, function and innovation for a seemingly endless supply of colorful, inventive products. The Providence, R.I.-based company, best known for the I’m Not a Papercup porcelain travel mug, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.
The design-driven company offers creative versions of products in kitchen, bath, storage and gifts. Attention-getting items shown at the housewares show included a babushka-shaped tea infuser, kitchen utensils that looked like flowers, scissors with a built-in tape dispenser and a Dip Clip that attaches to a bowl of chips.
“We’ve always said that our approach comes from fashion,” said DCI’s Roni Kabessa. “When you look at other companies, they’re more utilitarian. Of course function is important, but for us fashion is the catalyst.”
Kabessa founded the company in New York with wife Kara Orr, who had been the head of product development at the Museum of Modern Art. DCI initially focused on the gift category, “focusing on good design, good packaging and colorful products,” Kabessa said. “The year we started, Apple introduced the colorful iMacs. It’s popularity showed that consumers could and would bring color into their homes.”
Kabessa said the company has designed nearly 400 products since its inception. The company moved to Rhode Island eight years ago. DCI has exhibited at the Housewares Show for the last five years.
Many of the company’s introductions target younger consumers.
“Our main focus is consumers between 25 and 35 years old,” Kabessa said. “They’re buying their first home. They may shop at Target, they may shop at local stores. Our customer has KitchenAid in her house and then she adds us.”
Recent introductions reflect the company’s wide reach. For gourmands, the company has applied its inventive approach to measuring cups and spoons in the shape of hearts, butterflies and flowers.
For gift giving, the DCI has focused on hostess gifts for less than $20. Categories include bottle stoppers in creative shapes and garden party reusable party picks.
DCI combined lifestyle and fashion with a flavor infusion cup for fruit and berries. “People are more into fitness and are concerned about their health,” Kabessa said. “The infusers have a green element to them as well since you re-use the bottle.”