Home and Living loves our home office (we work at it, baby!). And we like to keep things organized. That’s why when we heard about OfficeMax’s new DiVOGA Catherine collection, we said, “Get those products over here for a look-see.” And we love ’em. Here’s an interview with: Mike Kitz, VP of OfficeMax Brands & Product Development, and Debra Hovel, Partner, with Taxi Branding to tell us more.
Q.: Welcome to Home and Living Examiner. Can you tell us a little bit about your role and OfficeMax?
Mike: I am Vice President of OfficeMax Brands and Product Development. My team is responsible for brand management, product research and development of OfficeMax’s private label products. We manage 15 different brands, including our premium brands in categories such as writing instruments (TUL), storage, binders and filling essentials ([IN]PLACE) , fashion office supplies (DiVOGA), organizational products, (PETER WALSH you.organized), computer peripherals (ENGAGE), presentation boards (INFUSE), furniture (BRENTON STUDIO, EASTLEIGH), mailing items and stationery (ASCEND and CANTERBURY) and portfolios (VIRTUO). My group oversees the entire product lifecycle from inception and product development to strategic marketing and placement and brand cultivation.
Debra: As partner of Taxi Branding, we support OfficeMax’s private brand team primarily as a global trend and inspiration resource and to assist with palette and pattern design creation for their private brands including DiVOGA.
Q.: We’re focusing today on home offices. What would you say is one area of improvement people could make in their home offices?
Debra: With so many people becoming entrepreneurs or working virtually from home, it is imperative to make sure your office reflects your fresh thinking and provides inspiration. By organizing clutter and providing a professional place to work, it helps focus your energy on what you do best at your job. So, the best thing people can do for their office at home or place of business is to create a fashionable and fun workspace that reflects their personal style while also supporting their professional needs.
Mike: Keep in mind that the nature of work is more mobile today than ever before thanks to the plethora of mobile devices and apps on the market today. Your office should include elements that support mobility—USB drives, a portable filing system, project binders for active work, charging station, wireless access (if available). Your home office should serve as your home base for all things mobile.
Q.: OfficeMax is debuting a new line of home office accessories called DiVOGA Catherine. Can you tell us more about this collection and how this fits into OfficeMax’s product offerings?
Debra: DiVOGA Catherine is one of several classic patterns we have developed for OfficeMax. This pattern is a musing on the classic European baroque pattern from centuries ago that has been updated and colorized to reflect contemporary fashion and style. This collection appeals to a wide range of people and works nicely alongside a variety of other design elements, fitting nicely alongside your current office decor.
Mike: The cool hues used found in Catherine make the pattern striking and give it a regal quality. We think customers who are attracted to jewel tones will like the boldness of Catherine. The pieces in the collection make a beautiful statement—together or individually.
Q.: We love the style, design and patterns on this DiVOGA collection, what was the inspiration behind that?
Debra: Well, we travel the world looking for new, old and enduring patterns and design elements. This particular pattern was inspired by a tile pattern that we came across in an entryway in Venice, Italy, on the Island of Murano. The Italian tile was cracked and only a bit remained. But the pattern was so fabulous and unforgettable that we knew we wanted to use this for a future DiVOGA collection.
Q.: How many pieces are in this line and what does it include?
Mike: There are 22 items in the DiVOGA Catherine collection. They include everyday desk elements such as binders, file folders and a desk organizer. You will also find fun and whimsical accessories that help to add a little flair to your work space—sleek pens, a picture frame, laptop case and a quilted shoulder bag.
Q.: The items are especially clever and well-made! We had the opportunity to receive samples of the DiVOGA Catherine wrist case with a view window for an ID card, a key ring attachment, an outside pocket and a zippered compartment, all in a 3 1/2-inch x 5-inch package. Tell us how you came up with these clever, well-designed items. Will you continue to come out with more?
Mike: We are constantly surveying our female customers to determine what elements are needed to help them bring a little personality to their workspaces. Our female shoppers tend to favor items that are multi-purpose, have slight embellishments, and contain intuitive elements that serve up an unexpected delight. A number of the items in the Catherine collection have these qualities. And the feedback has been tremendous, so as you can imagine, we will continue to develop and add future DiVOGA collections that we regard as conversational items.
Q.: What do you consider are office essentials for getting your home office organized?
Mike: I believe that storage and filing are two critical areas that you must tackle first when setting up a home office. These areas are often overlooked or treated as an afterthought. Some people are easily consumed with getting the latest and greatest peripherals and tech gadgets, which are great, but deciding what your filing and storage system will look like will save you time and energy. Without the proper tools or system, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your unplanned paper piles and clutter that quickly accumulates. Invest in file folders, file cabinets, compact discs, USB drives, portable file containers, a shredder and scanner. All of these tools are designed to help your workspace stay as productive as possible. Even with the best of intentions to maintain a “paperless” office, you have to accept the fact that there will always be paper to deal with, so make sure you’re prepared.
Q.: I’m particularly interested in the environment. Does OfficeMax have an environmental mission, and if so, what does it entail?
Mike: Yes, OfficeMax has an environmental policy that promotes environmental sustainability that you can review at http://tinyurl.com/4s7d2ly. As a non-manufacturing office products distributor and retailer, OfficeMax’ focuses on managing our environmental impacts through the areas of product stewardship, facility energy management and transportation. With respects to Product Stewardship, we currently carrier more than 2,100 products that contain post consumer recyclable content.
Q.: Where can customers find the DiVOGA Catherine products online? How about in-stores?
Mike: DiVOGA Catherine is available for purchase at OfficeMax.com and at OfficeMax stores nationwide we have approximately 1,000 locations.
Q.: Is there anything else you would like to tell Home and Living Readers about DiVOGA Catherine and what this collection is hoping to achieve?
Mike: We continue to develop new limited edition patterns for DiVOGA products and unveil them throughout the year. Our next pattern to be released is called DiVOGA Seraphina, which will be available at OfficeMax stores on April 2011. That’s the beauty of our DiVOGA patterns—we are always looking at the latest fashion trends and colors and designing new patterns that appeal to different style preferences. It is not a static brand. But a brand that celebrates individuality and creativity at all times!
“OfficeMax’s 2011 Organization Survey found nearly half (43%) of Americans are unable to find motivation to de-clutter their workspaces while nearly a third (27%) are simply missing the right tools.”
You can view DiVOGA Catherine in our slideshow.