Arielle Salkin used to create embellishments to light up the designer fashions worn by runway models and celebrities. Now she’s using her skills to make and curate artistic products for your home. The Materials Design Co., also known as TMDco., is an online boutique featuring the work of independent designers from around the world. It makes shopping for unique brands and products easy, accessible and enjoyable.
“I look for everyday products including home goods, jewelry, accessories and decorative items that have something special in their design,” said Salkin. “I find items customers will love, that advance their sense of style, but are still comfortable for them to enjoy.”
Salkin knows what to look for as she is a maker herself. As a teen, she lived and breathed fashion. She taught herself how to design and construct garments, and learned all phases of design and production as a student at Parsons School of Design. After graduating in 2011, Salkin found a niche creating embellishments on consignment for big name designers clamoring for her work. She took the first steps of going into business herself by designing bags, and then jewelry.
The entrepreneur started The Materials Design Co. this year to extend her passion for design by doing the research most people don’t have the time or expertise to do themselves. With her knowledge of design and production, she finds quality products with artistic, and sometimes hand-made touches, that are well made and affordable. TMDco. makes shopping effortless with its easy-to-use purchasing capability and a wealth of information about the artists and their creative process.
Salkin introduces a new collection each month, influenced by a common color palette and style. She makes a monthly Pinterest board and finds products that speak to that aesthetic. “I pin images that strike me emotionally,” she said. “They could be fashion, art, photos or décor. And I’ll shop with that in mind.”
The March collection “takes notes from midcentury Matisse paintings and Terrazzo trends and mixes them with contemporary graphic illustrations in bright spring hues.” The color trends include cobalt blue, leaf green and rosy pink, plus a lot of black-and-white patterns.
TMDCo. has products across a variety of categories that showcase this approach. Terrazzo desk trays brighten your workspace and provide a home for your pens and pencils. Tea towels add pops of color to your kitchen. Earrings with colorful designs are perfect for returning to the office or meeting friends, now that spring is coming and COVID restrictions are ending.
Salkin chooses the products she carries with an eye to both how they look and how they are made. “It has to hit me, be cool and interesting,” she explained. “I look at color, shape, texture and craft.” She examines the offerings with a critical eye. “I don’t buy it if I see that someone hasn’t finished the product well. And when I receive products, if they don’t meet my standards, I exchange or return them.”
Salkin keeps quality control high by purchasing and stocking products in her studio so she can review them before sending to customers. Other sites do drop-shipping, in which the producer mails to the customers. Product photos on TMDCo. are more accurate, since she can photograph items from all angles in her studio.
Although products at The Materials Design Co. are made by artists, quality does not mean costly.
Most of the body and bath products are $5 to $20; decorative items are priced between $20 and $50, and pieces of jewelry range from $20 to $60. When customers make a purchase and then see something else they want within 30 days, shipping is free.
Collections from The Materials Design Co. are as much about the artist as the art.
Salkin includes blogs on her website introducing the makers, so customers can see the person behind the product. She loves showing how an item is made, which gives shoppers added appreciation for what they are getting. She puts lots of stories on Instagram to give viewers digestible bites of the creative process. To share how a tea towel is dyed a particular color, she posts a series of step-by-step videos from the beginning of making the dye, through how it is applied, to the end result.
Visit www.thematerialsdesignco.com and the Instagram page @thematerialsdesignco frequently for Salkin’s newest monthly collections, blogs and videos.
By Bracha Schwartz