Motiflow, a sister company to the digital printing company Probo, relies on Caldera to deliver the innovative e-commerce workflow it provides to designers.
Annemijn Filius relishes a challenge. When visiting renowned fabric trade show Heimtextil in January 2017, she saw inspiring designs but found that their creators were unable to help her reproduce them onto textile. The result is Motiflow, a digital printing company based in Dokkum in the Netherlands, an exciting new venture – facilitated by Caldera – which provides a monetizing platform for textile and graphic designers.
Having visited the show, Annemijn realized there was an opportunity in finding a way for designers to sell their work in a variety of printed formats at a fair price, while retaining the copyright to their own intellectual property. She consulted with designers about their needs, creating a robust but accessible e-commerce site that would enable buyers to customize their orders for a range of applications.
Motiflow went live last September with its first two fabrics and about 100 designs. Since then the choice has grown to more than 1800, ranging from dancing lobsters to African masks, ice cream and coffeepots. The range is nothing if not eclectic. These designs can be ordered on wallpaper or a range of fabrics and the prices are remarkably affordable for such small, customized runs.
Motiflow has a smart but simple business model that keeps production and ordering simple for both buyers and designers. Here’s how it works: Designers create a profile on the Motiflow site and upload their patterns; these designs are showcased by Motiflow for printing onto four types of fabric or onto rolls of wallpaper; buyers select their pattern, confirm the size of fabric or number of rolls they want printed, and place their order. The minimum order is one meter of fabric or one roll of paper; once the order is placed, sister company Probo prints and dispatches; the designer of the pattern receives 10% of the price of the total order while retaining the copyright of the design, which can be sold multiple times.
“We wanted to find a way in which designers could very easily resell their designs to consumers and businesses,” says Annemijn. “Although we offer four fabric choices plus wallpaper, it’s all about selling the design. We’re not selling finished products and it’s totally up to the customers what they create with the fabrics and paper.”
Simplicity was a key factor in designing the platform. Motiflow is accessible and easy to use for all parties while being compatible on websites, iPhones and iPads. Designers are asked to upload a minimum of three patterns for public display; beyond that, they can upload as many designs as they want, and they have the choice to show them publicly or keep them for their own private use. “This means they can keep an exclusive range for their own products if they want” explains Annemijn.
Motiflow checks each design to make sure patterns are repeatable and hit the appropriate quality standards for printing – 150dpi, a maximum of 25MB and saved in CMYK – but makes no artistic judgment; that’s for the consumers. And for them, the process is just as simple. Fabrics are available in three widths – 50, 100 or 150cm – and in any length over a meter, while wallpaper is available on standard-sized rolls of 53cm x 10m but also available per meter. “By choosing our custom roll you order just what you need. It’s a concept we came up with to minimize waste. Customers fill in the height and width of their wall, and receive the exact amount of pre-cut strokes. This way they can easily decorate their wall, without worrying about the repeat.”
Creating a company that was environmentally friendly was important to the Motiflow team, whose commitment to eco-responsibility extends to every element of the production process. The fabrics on offer – cotton basic, cotton satin, poly outdoor and jersey – are sourced in Europe from companies with strong environmental credentials and papers are FSC-certified. Non-toxic inks are used for both processes, with pigment for textile and aqueous for the paper stocks.
“Being eco-friendly is important for us, but also for the customers we sell to” says Annemijn. “Our products are currently shipped to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, and the buyers range for DIYers to interior designers to small interior retail businesses. They demand high quality output with a strong environmental pedigree.”
The site has been up and running for considerably less than a year but is winning fans and customers at an incredible rate. Most obviously, Motiflow is interested in extending the range of choice offered to Motiflow’s customers. “We want to add to the range of fabrics on offer; the next one will be a linen, which is coming soon. We also want to be able to offer another wallpaper choice in the near future.”
The other area where expansion would seem natural for Motiflow is to find partner businesses that could produce products using the designs and fabrics available on the site. This means that a consumer would be able to pick the fabric of their choice and then opt for it to be made into curtains, cushions or clothing by someone else. “We’re actively looking for businesses who would be keen to co-operate in this way” says Annemijn.
It’s an exciting prospect – a future world where design and production processes are effectively democratized by putting the ultimate choice in the hands of the consumer. Choose a pattern you like or design your own and upload it, then order the fabric or products you want. Motiflow has developed the platform to make it as easy as one-two-three – so if you want dancing lobsters on your walls and coffee pots on your cushions, you know where to come.