In a world facing so many challenges caused by human consumption, designers are coming up with smart and thoughtful solutions for creating everyday items. Good brings together some of the leaders in this innovative space, whose work is not only beautiful
Meet the people leading the way in sustainable design
New York company Othr creates useful, beautiful and uniquely designed products with minimal impact on the environment, using technologies such as 3D printing. This means their objects do not exist until someone orders one. Founded by designers Joe Doucet, Dean Di Simone and Evan Clabots, Othr partners with the world’s best designers and is racking up a list of awards for its ground-breaking ideas. Co-founder Joe Doucet shares some of their insights.
Othr creates products through 3D printing. How and why does that work?
Traditionally, manufacturing and design have been limited by the need to mass produce objects. Because Othr operates on a zero-inventory model, we are able to be sustainable in an entirely new way. We only produce items when they are specifically ordered; we have no factories, no warehouses, and our production process eliminates excessive waste. At the same time that this method of manufacturing reduces our environmental footprint, it also gives added meaning to our designs. Observing the rise of 3D printing, I saw an opportunity to harness this techonology to produce something entirely di erent from the overly intricate objects first associated with this movement. We are running counter to the culture of disposability and thoughtless consumerism.
Othr represents designers from around the globe. Why do you choose to partner with the designers that you do?
The designers who we launched with were a carefully selected group of leading names – icons, friends and collaborators. In addition to continually onboarding the best and most recognised names in design, we are also dedicated to launching newcomers. Because we don’t have to invest in massive amounts of product
when we commit to a designer, we have the luxury of taking these risks without the burden of inventory.
Othr has been collecting quite a few awards recently…
Othr was winner of Inc.’s 2017 Design Awards in the “Most Entrepreneurial Design Studio” category. Our ‘Kyou’ collection by Todd Bracher was the recipient of a 2017 Wallpaper* Design Award. We have also been nominated for the Beazley Designs of the Year at the Design Museum, London, and are a finalist in the Product category in Fast Company’s 2017 Innovation by Design Awards.
What has the consumer response been?
One of the biggest challenges that we faced starting out was accurately communicating our model to consumers who are accustomed to an industry founded on rapid production, lower-quality items, and immediate satisfaction.
While 3D printing technology does allow us to drastically reduce production times, it also means that we begin production on an item once the order is placed. This assures that we maintain a zero-waste model, and that each of our objects has a predetermined home before it’s made. However, it results in a two to three week lead time once a product is ordered. We combat this unfamiliar step for consumers through education; driving home to our customers that each of our objects is original and precious. Every object we print is embedded with a serial number, and comes with a certificate of authenticity, to emphasise that object’s individuality and mark its edition.
What attributes does every product produced by Othr imbue?
We have three criteria that we brief our designers with and validate proposals against: Useful, Aesthetic and Unique. Useful in that our products must have a purpose and are not just pure decor. Aesthetic in that they must have a high degree of artistic merit, and Unique in that we are not looking for a variation on something that has come before. Though much of our inventory might be described as ‘minimalist,’ it’s a result of this three- pronged approach, rather than an aesthetic filter applied over a design.
Is there a restriction on what you can create size and scale wise?
Yes, there is currently a restriction to our scale – we are tied to a bounding box of approximately 8”x 4” for porcelain products, and even less for metal. However, the technology is getting more sophisticated each year; larger-scale 3D printers will soon become more a ordable, allowing us to (literally) expand our product selection. We certainly plan to broaden our o erings when this happens, pursuing furniture and larger-scale design as soon as it is feasible.
Tell us about the name.
I’d had the idea for this company for a while. When it was time to make it o icialI, was looking through some old files and re-discovered that I’d purchased othr.com several years earlier. Immediately, I knew this was the name. It encompassed what we were setting out to accomplish: something totally other, di erent from what came beforeW. e are not simply a consumer goods store, or a 3D printing design brand; we are a company that will disrupt the supply chain altogether, changing the way that consumers interact with, purchase and receive design.
What makes great design?
Caring about how and why the things you surround yourself with are created is the ultimate discernment, and the mark of great design. In connecting with our consumers, it’s critical that we tell the “why” of each of our objects; not just the “what.” This is why we focus so heavily on our designers and their process; the principles applied in development matter just as much, if not more, than the final product itself.
cube – “like a forest of legs with glass on top”.
When The Clever Design Store started selling the tables it went viral. Bloggers from Europe wanted to tell the story and the Milan Furniture Fair invited Herring to take his product to Milan.
Herring’s pieces are made from a large variety of recycled timbers. “As with my other work in the series, this is an investigation of material and what lies beneath its surface; finding a beauty within,” says Herring. “It’s about minimising waste, making do with what you have and to a certain extent allowing the material to govern the form.”
Designtree in Wellington is also part of The Clever Design stable. Its Frankie lights are made from timber and felt made of PET (plastic bottles) and can be made almost any size by adding modules – single, double and triple pendant.
Tauranga designer Mat Macmillan uses plywood o cuts for his striking iO Drum pendant lights that create a cosy e ect.
“The iO Drum pendants are aesthetically pleasing as a sculptural object as well as providing light so it has functionality and form as well as a nice story behind it,” says Kayser.
Handcrafted Kowhai lampshades by Ron Crummer, Auckland are also beautiful and unique. Inspired by the native kowhai tree they are made from 100 per cent polyester fibre with no chemical binders and certified low VOC. The fabric is mould, water and fade resistant and must be used with an energy e icient lightbulb.
Light it up Tauranga designer Mat Macmillan uses plywood o cuts for his striking iO Drum pendant lights. Frankie lights are made from timber and felt made of PET (plastic bottles). Handcrafted Kowhai lampshades by Ron Crummer.
Cutting edge Othr is disrupting the 3D printing industry with their stylish, sustainable designs, including porcelain plant holders, chic citrus juicers, and polished bronze bottle openers. othr.com
@mirandabrownyes mirandabrown.co.nz thecleverdesignstore.com