Tag Archives: unique design

Nothing but What You Need

If you were given two minutes to design a table that was functional and aesthetically pleasing, could you do it? Two friends are the owners of a small Czech design boutique called Master&Master and so far there is only one product for sale, the Stackable table trestles.

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After a few seconds of just looking at the table, I realized that this piece is just extremely naked – there are two steel legs and a flat wooden surface. However, what makes this table interesting and beautiful is the way the legs are designed. If you’ve taken any physics or engineering courses then you’ll understand the mechanics of trusses (don’t worry, I won’t dive into explaining equations, forces, stress, etc.). Basically, these designers have utilized this common feature mostly found in architecture and engineering into this ‘simple’ table. As a result, they’ve optimized the table’s strength. Oh, and a perk to these tables are that they’re stackable!

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This design is also reminiscent of three of our Unbranded pieces – Akshat Ragava’s WM Coffee Table, Tracy Tyler’s Bent Plywood Table, and Alain Santos Monteiro’s Revi Table. Check them out!

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NY Design Week in Review (Part 4), An encouraging design trend

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our review of NY Design Week.

When someone hears “flat-packed furniture”, why are people immediately turned off? Consumers can point to the big box retailers that have utilized it to great success for decades. They could also think to the poor quality and self-assembly that comes with it.

It’s not difficult to understand why designers are as turned off by flat-packing. If you’re a designer, why would you want to spend a significant amount of time creating a design that ultimately lacks the quality to last? And why would you put your name on a low-quality piece? It would only hurt your personal brand.

When we started out, we met a number of people who were adamant about this position and understandably so, but that hasn’t consistently been the case recently, especially at ICFF. More and more, designers are embracing the flat-packing and for a number of great reasons:

  1. Production efficiency: Designers are beginning to understand the production benefits that come with flat-packed products and are beginning to embrace those processes. This includes building good processes, managing inventory, and leveraging advanced technologies. Just having a better understanding improves how designers can interface with manufacturers or utilize their own facilities to maximize output and efficiency.
  2. National and global customers: Logistics is a problem that has not yet been solved for furniture. Even the big boys won’t deliver to every ZIP code in the country. How many customers can afford to pay hundreds of dollars in shipping in addition to the cost of your products? Flat-packing allows you to go from a white-glove service to UPS or Fedex. How many more customers could you reach if you could easily ship your products?
  3. More interesting design challenge: Designing a high-quality product to be flat-packed is an even greater challenge than just designing a great piece of furniture. Not only does it have to be well-designed when put together, it has to be broken down and easy to assemble.  Hitting all these goals in one design is a major achievement that many designers are beginning to strive for.

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Even this is sent in a flat pack!

We’re very encouraged by this trend given that Unbranded Designs is a web-based company and we hope to reach customers in different regions. In no way are we proclaiming that we are a flat-pack company but we fully understand the complexities in trying to reach customers everywhere. In fact none of our current designs could even be packed in the ways we discussed with designers at ICFF. We’re just glad to see that there’s a large contingent of talented designers that are embracing this mentality to create amazing products and you should too!

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NY Design Week in Review (Part 3), Why designers attend

Part 1 and Part 2 of our review of NY Design Week.

Since this was our first trip to ICFF, we had a number of questions regarding the event including price, timing, trade vs. non-trade, etc. As we were hastily registering for the event, waiting for a credit card screen or some explanation, we had marked down Unbranded Designs as a retailer. We’re a retailer from the basis we sell furniture to consumers, but we think of ourselves as so much more. We consider ourselves a tech company since we’re exclusively web-based. We are a design company due to our community of designers. We could even be considered a manufacturer because we manage a supply chain and source components of our designs from different vendors, sometimes completing assembly. And yes, we’re definitely an e-commerce retailer.

In this instance it was in our benefit to select retailer because it afforded us the opportunity to have several engaging conversations with designers. The main things we learned about the designers we spoke with at ICFF and Wanted Design echoed what designers struggle with here in Chicago and everywhere else. These designers were all looking for partners to 1) manufacture their products and/or 2) carry their products for sale. These designers exhibited the skills to design magnificent pieces and also had the resources to transport their products to New York City, yet they still needed a major partner to bring their designs to the next level.

Coming to ICFF, we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew based on our early research that this was a problem affecting the furniture design community but perhaps the luster of ICFF had made us assume these designers were vastly different. If they were showing at ICFF, surely they’d have the resources to accelerate their designs.

In reality the designers at ICFF face the issues that all designers face. Marketing, sales, manufacturing, and funding impact need to be done well by everyone. After this trip, we’re even more encouraged by our business model, how we can help designers, the amount of amazing designs we saw, and the number of designers that were interested in getting involved with our company. We welcome all of the designers from ICFF, Wanted Design, and anyone else to sign-up and showcase your work. We’d love to work with you!

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