By Paige Henderson, Editorial Intern
When an industrial designer steps into the Shmaze Color Design Studio, she is encouraged to lay all of her materials on large conference tables, then sit across from the studio’s color technicians and attempt to verbalize colors that exist only in her mind’s eye.
Ten minutes and a lifetime of expertise later—viola!—the new color, based on the technician’s understanding of the designer’s description, is created. Discussion of tweaking ensues.
According to Michael Shamassian, president and owner of Shmaze Industries, Schmaze technicians are trained to not only listen to what is being said, but also to hear what is unsaid. They read facial expressions to understand the feeling the designer is trying to express, he says. The process continues until the color is the perfect reflection of the designer’s imagination. Once the color is created, the coating is sent to PPG where it is made into a larger quantity and shipped out.
The human interaction in this process is only one of the ways in which the Shmaze Color Design Studio is unique in the industry, according to Shamassian. There is no sending color swatches back and forth in the mail, or trying to describe how a color is “too yellow” via e-mail. The face-to-face interaction makes the experience one-of-a kind. Designers and technicians work together until the imagined color has come to life.
The studio itself is designed with raw, organically colored materials, so the focus while working there can be on the colors being discussed. Exposed cement walls, a steel staircase and roll-up doors express a clean, industrial environment. The lab portion is bright white with an open feel, and the studio component, equipped with color corrective lighting, “is like a conference room/Starbucks coffee house” Shamassian says. “It’s very comfortable yet functional.” This environment fosters discussion, a key component to the Shmaze experience.
The partnership of Shmaze industries and PPG could not have come at a better time. Shmaze has been coping with the problem many manufacturing companies have had to face in the past few years—production moving overseas, says Shamassian.
He says he wanted to move his company in a new direction that would play off of its surroundings. Irvine, CA, is a large design hub in the U.S., and Shamassian knew he could use this to his advantage. “Let’s create a special space for this,” he said at the studio’s inception. “Let’s make it an experience for a designer that they’ll want to come back to over and over, because it takes them out of their normal element in their office. The studio will hopefully help make them a little more relaxed, more creative.”
Shamassian says Shmaze needed PPG as a sponsor not only financially, but for PPG’s resources and connections around the world.
In turn, PPG was searching for a “wow factor” to draw business back to the U.S. “We were basically looking for a great way to provide value to our customers outside a can of paint,” says Bill Barrett, sales manager for Consumer Electronics America and manager of the PPG initiative with Shmaze. Offering the services of the Shmaze studio, PPG has expanded its line of business and provided an application the competition lacks.
Currently, the studio is mostly in use by industrial designers. Engineers, in particular, are taking advantage of the ability to see the paint line being used on products via an actual production line. A high volume of current bookings at the studio is an indication that this hands-on creative process may be just what the industry has been waiting for.
For more information, call 888-774-2001 or visit ppgindustrialcoatings.com.
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