By Allison Zisko
Steuben, reenergized and revitalized, is promoting the concept of casual, affordable luxury to attract new customers.
The century-old glass company is the latest high-end tabletop brand to tweak its image in an effort to remain relevant to consumers. It has added color to some of its most popular collections, lowered the opening price points in several classifications, signed licensing agreements with Jonathan Adler and Waterworks, and is focusing more on stemware, barware and other core tabletop categories and slightly less on corporate gift-giving and decorative pieces.
“It is time to make major steps to position Steuben for the way we live today,” said Mark Samitt, president. “We have legions of loyal fans that appreciate our impeccable craftsmanship and commitment to outstanding design and we are planning to extend this enthusiasm to a broader audience.”
Robert Nachman, vice president of marketing and product design, described Steuben’s transformation as “an evolution, not a revolution,” one that is mindful of its core customer but also appeals to a new one.
The rebranding initiative, which also includes a new logo, packaging and Web site, was manifested in recent tabletop introductions, which reflect a more price-conscious Steuben. Each of the four new stemware and barware collections is placed on a different price tier that begins at $55, Steuben’s new opening price point (the previous opening price point was $120), and goes up to $80 per stem. Each one of the new collections reflects a different design sensibility. Breeze, priced at $55 per stem, is a more feminine style with gently curving shapes and a slight sprinkling of etched berries. Angles is a more contemporary line that reflects a mid-century design aesthetic with its balance of angles and curves; stems start at $65. Verve is Steuben’s stemless line; it’s chunky and solid with oval indents near its base for easy handling. Pieces in this collection begin at $75. Finally, Vee, at $80 per stem, is Art Deco-inspired with an elongated, v-shaped bowl and a thicker, faceted stem.
Steuben giftware continues to exemplify the company’s appreciation for the artisan. Some of its sculptures are one-of-a-kind, copper-wheel engraved. Other pieces offer quirky or whimsical interpretations of common themes, such as designer Harry Allen’s piggy bank (the pig sits on its haunches and its snout serves as the opening for coins), or the “Be Mine” glass heart that mimics the Valentine message candy. The company has also added color to a few top-selling pieces. The olive dish, designed for and first exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair, is now offered in a combination of clear and rose, gray or indigo. The mix of clear and color, Nachman said, enhances the beauty of the piece and highlights its craftsmanship. “So much of our design aesthetic is that swath of mid-century modern design,” he said.
Steuben is partnering with designer Jonathan Adler, whose works pay homage to mid-century modern icons. A collection will launch in the spring and will include barware, photo frames, serving pieces, decorative objects and more.
Last month it unveiled a new series of work by artist Ross Bleckner, marking a return to fine art. Steuben has also signed a license agreement with Waterworks, the high-end bathroom fixture company, and will introduce a collection in fall 2011 that will include bathroom faucet handles, drawer pulls, tissue boxes, tumblers and other bathroom accessories.
Both Jonathan Adler and Waterworks complement Steuben’s portfolio nicely, Nachman said. “We feel they represent what we represent—a high-end American company with a strong design affinity.”