College for Creative Studies: Illustration
Jennifer Kehl (Royal), a concept director for the crystal/metal division at the Lenox headquarters in Pennsylvania, is one of the driving forces behind the company’s award-winning products.
“My basic responsibilities are to come up with and present to marketing the concepts for new products - this includes new decorating techniques, the theme of the product and the items,” explained Kehl. “I seek inspiration from everything around me - from a great pattern on a piece of fabric to a glass bead I see at a craft show -and am constantly shopping for new items and techniques…
“I’m proud to be part of the company holding a license to create products for the line of Kate Spade crystal. The designer’s name creates quite a buzz in the market!”
Leading a team of Lenox staff and freelancers, Kehl determines the design of upcoming products in the following categories: drink/stemware, crystal gifts, metal gifts, serve ware, flatware and holiday products in glass, metal and china.
“Each of the three materials I work in is unique in their properties and I enjoy them all,” said Kehl. “I love that I can work with almost any color of china and get incredible shapes and details. The same is true for metals to a certain extent. I can get great sculpted and carved detail, great shapes and even color in the form of clear and opaque epoxies.
“I’ve worked with glass the longest and it has been the most challenging. My deco options are limited to four basic elements: color, sandblasting, gray cuts and polished cuts. The colors are also quite limited. Many colors are either expensive or volatile with low yield rates. I can get great texture and detail with sandblasting, but the more intricate the mask the higher the cost. The look of gray and polished cuts are limited to what the person working the wheel can achieve. Finding new and affordable decorating techniques or finding ways to combine old techniques to create something new is always at the top of my priority list.”
In addition to helping her gain internship experience, CCS instilled an unyielding work ethic in Kehl and gave her the confidence to succeed in a competitive industry. It also taught her the key design elements and how to use them to capture the hearts of consumers.
“Two of my instructors both had confidence in me and taught me to have confidence in myself.”
“If a project fell short of their expectations, they would ask, ‘What happened? I know you are better than this.’ It’s an art form to be able to build someone’s confidence by telling them they didn’t meet your expectations." said Kehl.
“My instructors also taught me invaluable lessons about design. I developed a good eye for composition, color and proportion -all critical to creating products that have warmth and are pleasing to the eye.”