How did you approach manufacturing, in terms of how and where you would get things made?
As I started manufacturing, the idea was initially that I was an American brand, working with American designers, and we would make everything as local as possible. At the same time I wanted to manufacture challenging work. I didn’t want to make simple, easy work. So when you start looking for the perfect metal spinner, or someone who has a four-axis mill, who can produce these more complex parts, it becomes more and more challenging. So local became national. Now we are looking for manufacturing partners wherever we can in the US, to help us make whatever it is we are making, whether we are casting something in metal, or machining something in metal, or spinning metal, or making wood furniture. We are looking everywhere from the West to East coast. Early on really, everything we made was so expensive to produce, so complex in its form. They were so expensive to make, that meant they were so expensive on the retail side, that there was very little market. Not all of the pieces lent themselves to being editions, or one-off pieces. So it was challenging, it was an education in starting in manufacturing. As things started to really slowly evolve, I started finding production elsewhere, up in Canada, overseas, in Europe and Asia, wherever we could find it. That really opened up a different world, it was like we could really make anything. And at the same time that evolved into the idea that we could be an American brand that works with designers from around the world. This whole idea which began as an American brand, that was hyper-focused on this insular idea of all American designers and manufacturing, became more of an idea of being an American brand with an international vision.
The story is very similar to what happened with SCP in the 80s and 90s, and with a few other British companies in that period. It’s interesting to think about why design scenes have a renaissance, like the scene in New York. Speaking to other NY based designers, a few have mentioned how the Rhode Island Design School was getting something right, that was also feeding into the whole scene.
Yeah, it’s maybe something about stars aligning. You have the perfect school or institution, which is ripe and ready, with great professors, and you have this audience of students that come in, who take in all this information, then start churning out work, and people start to take notice, and it slowly blossoms into this thing in New York, where suddenly all these RISD students are showing work in New York. At the same time a new design fair called Brooklyn Designs pops up, and all these other local designers start showing their work. It was a kind of stars aligned moment.