Housewares Design Awards

2005 Best in Category: Lighting & Home Décor and Outdoor Living

Burnes Group

Level Line

Finding a solution to any long-standing problem might seem simple in the end, but the road taken to designing that feature can be long and winding.

Such is the case with the Level-Line from Burnes Group, which took company officials more than one year to design, according to Charlie Lawrence, vp/ marketing and product development with Burnes.

Designed to allow consumers to hang picture frames and ledges on a wall faster and straight, products in the line feature a mounting bracket with a built-in level and preset nail holes. Once the bracket is mounted, its angled edge pulls the product toward the wall for a flush mount.

“I would say we did approximately a half-dozen prototypes that were tested and retested with consumers in the field,” Lawrence recalled.

The genesis of Level-Line stems from Burnes’ increased focused on consumer research that allowed the company best known for its assortment of picture frames and wall décor to see how the end-user was interacting with its products.

“In doing our research, we were seeing many homes with older photos and wall hangings and found the reason they were not being replaced was that 95% of consumers said they were uncomfortable with the process of hanging items on their walls,” said Mark VanderBerg, Burnes’ director of advanced concepts and consumer research.

Installed Base

He recalled receiving a strong dose of reality in one home, when he noticed a Burnes ledge set sitting on the floor in the corner of a room.

“At first, I was l flattered they purchased our product until I found out that it had been in that same spot for nine months,” VanderBerg said. “The woman referred to the item as ‘hell in a box” since every time she asked her husband to hang the item, she said he would give her ‘hell’ after reading the items installation directions.”

In addition to product design, packaging became an integral part of the Level-Line story; something Lawrence said was a “significant challenge” in today’s largely self-service retail environment. “You only get a few seconds to catch the consumers’ attention in-store,” he added.

Level-Line’s packaging exposes a portion of the products, showcases the level bubble and offers a three-step explanation of how the item works.

Lawrence feels Level-Line may also spur further innovation from Burnes and its competition in the future. “We just had a meeting with our sales staff here and showed them Phase II of Level-Line, and they were quite excited,” he said. He also feels the functionality offered by Level-Line has the potential to open Burnes to new product segments in wall décor, such as framed art and curios.

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