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Design Thinking: Montserrat New York

(Image courtesy of Montserrat New York)

In Graduate School, one of the buzzwords professors love to discuss is "Design Thinking." Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding (Dam and Siang). Design Thinking enables a company to understand consumer needs to serve their audience better. For this project, I contacted different companies to learn how the organizations apply Design Thinking into their market offerings. I had the opportunity to talk with Carolina Cordon-Bouzan ,Founder and Designer, to learn more about the mission and vision of her company Montserrat New York.

(Image courtesy of Montserrat New York)

1. What makes Montserrat New York different from companies?

In short: we create fashion-forward jewelry using lab grown diamonds. Our brand is a lifestyle brand focusing on jewelry and unisex ready to wear that brings sustainable luxury at attainable pricepoints to the Millennial and Gen-Z consumers in a way that we feel is missing from the eco-friendly fashion space. We entered the lab grown diamond jewelry space because we felt that other brands within the market were offering stale designs that, as a consumer myself, didn't excite me when browsing for alternatively sustainable jewelry. Moreover, upon learning the fact that lab grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically exactly the same as mined diamonds, I could not believe that brands were still excavating our planet for diamonds. Designing with lab grown diamonds was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made, as they continue to provide our customers with a high quality product that is sustainable and remains at an attainable price point.

2. How does Montserrat New York stay ahead of upcoming trends? While I always stay up to date with the latest runway shows, I mainly look to what is going on in society and the economy to try to predict how people will feel in that upcoming season, what they will want to wear, and what they will be willing to spend. In asking all of those questions, I hypothesize what I believe the upcoming trends will look like. And from there, I begin designing a collection I feel people will gravitate towards! I try really hard not to look at other brands so that my ideas don't get clouded with designs from other brands or designers.

(Image courtesy of Montserrat New York)

3. Where do your founders draw inspiration from during the design process? In designing each collection, I first turn to a piece in history that has a strong female protagonist - be it a painting, a song, a book, or a movie. That female protagonist goes on to become the muse for that season's collection, and I deep dive into researching all about her to learn things like her persona, her style, her family, and her cultural background. From there, I like to imagine what that muse would be like if she was my age and living in New York City. What would she wear? Where would she work? Who would she be friends with? Where would she go out at night? I then combine the muse's story and my imagination on what she would be like if she lived in Manhattan today to create designs that I think bother her and I alike would wear during that season. I also like to choose a song that matches the vibe of the muse, and goes on to become the "theme song" of the collection - it also becomes the first song on our Spotify playlist for that collection. The combination of the muse and the song really inform the direction of the collection's designs and allow me to focus in on one vibe and energy to create a cohesive collection. As a little sneak peak, I can tell you that this upcoming Spring/Summer collection muse is Venus from Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, and the theme song is Bryce Vine's Glamorama :)

(Image courtesy of Montserrat New York)

4. How does Montserrat New York incorporate its mission and vision into its product offerings?

Our main mission and vision in our product offerings is to provide our customers with sustainable fashion and attainable price points. As a company, all of our team members feel it is our duty to be as sustainable as we can, seeing as the fashion industry in general can be one of the most wasteful. In addition to working with the sustainable alternative to mined diamonds, we have also focused on off-setting our carbon footprint by partnering with Terrapass. While it is nearly impossible to be 100% sustainable, we are trying our best by tackling a few areas at a time. Our latest drop is actually a good example: We launched beanies that are made with 60% recycled polyester, which was an important effort to us in having the beanies be as sustainable as we could possibly make them. We are continuously looking at our brand to evaluate how we can make more environmentally conscious decisions in areas like our packaging and product offerings. We'll have much more on that in this upcoming year, so you'll have to stay tuned and see! 5. What is the future of the company?

We are in a big growth phase right now, which is very exciting! I would say that the future of MONTSERRAT New York will be focusing on continuing to produce lab grown diamond jewelry and growing our sustainability efforts in the most transparent way possible with our consumers. And a little secret I'll let you in on is that we'll be expanding our clothing and L'Objets offerings with fun summer drops!

(Image courtesy of Montserrat New York)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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