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Monday, October 10th, 2011

Designer Interview: Joe and Sallyann of FRUITSUPER

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Today we’re sitting down with Sallyann Corn and Joe Kent of FRUITSUPER, a Product Design Firm. In addition to all of the consulting and expertise their company offers, they have also developed lines of products, including their silicon SBiR rings which are new to our site. They truly are So Big it’s Ridiculous, and that is, of course, why we love ‘em so much!

How did you come up with your company’s name?

Ahhh,that is always everyone’s first question! And the hardest one to figure out, apparently, since no one ever guesses the correct answer! But I suppose we can finally divulge the secret…Corn is Sallyann’s last name, and corn is technically a fruit (since it bears seeds). Joe’s last name is Kent, which is Superman’s last name. Smash those two together, and you’ve got fruitsuper design!

I never would have guessed that, as I had no idea that corn was a fruit. Anyway, how did you two meet?

We met in 2004 while both studying Industrial Design at The Art Institute of Seattle. We gravitated toward each other, because we had opposing skill sets, which made us perfect partners to work together. We also both have the same sarcastic sense of humor, obsession for all things design, and a ridiculous love of food and travel. Starting our own company had always been one of our goals early on, knowing how well our skill sets complemented each other. After working for other companies, we both decided to go back to school (Pratt Institute) to round out our education experience and Pratt has always been known for cultivating entrepreneurs.

What inspired your geodesic-ish rings? What gave you the guts to go so large scale?

Sallyann is a huge lover of giant jewelry (no pun intended). Her philosophy when it comes to jewelry selection is that if no one comments on the jewelry she’s wearing, it’s not big enough. And after extensive research, we realized she wasn’t the only women that felt this way. A great big piece of jewelry can be the perfect conversation starter, and the right piece to pull a perfect ensemble together. This line of geometric inspired rings was born out of the exploration of materials. We both have quite a bit of experience working with Silicone, so were familiar with all of the properties it has to offer. No one is currently capitalizing on these properties in the jewelry arena. That’s why we chose it for this line- we were able to create these chiseled geometric gemlike shapes that are juxtaposed by this soft, squishy material. The stretch properties in Silicone make them comfortable, lightweight, and easy to wear, which are uncommon features in large jewelry.

What does SBiR mean?

SBiR stands for So Big it’s Ridiculous. These rings most definitely fall into the category of ‘statement jewelry,’ and we intended them to be that way. They are not for the faint at heart, they’re big, they’re bold, and they’re equal parts of ridiculous and awesomeness!

O.K. I should have figured that one out! Love it! How long have you been in business? What inspired you to start your own creative business?

We founded fruitsuper design in 2008, to create not only our own objects, but to take on other challenges as well. We’re one half a product consultancy company, and one half design producers of our own products. This adds multiple levels of challenges as well as a firm understanding of the entire design process. Taking on projects for outside clients keeps us grounded, provides fresh approaches, as well as inspires us to do more of our own work! So it’s a great balance!

Where do you look for inspiration?

We are both museum junkies, and will escape the office and studio any chance we can! We’re also obsessive travelers, and firmly believe that contrast and context are the keys to great design thinking. Traveling opens our eyes to new foods, new ways of thinking, new colors, patterns, and entire worlds of opportunity. Just talking about traveling is making us feel the need to book a trip somewhere and fill the reservoir!

What’s your workspace like?

Our workspace is constantly evolving. Since we’re always juggling between our own product development, as well as client projects, our space has to be extremely flexible. It’s held together by paperclips and masking tape, as we’re always rotating drawings, sketches, and models to focus on the project at hand. And tucked away in every possible nook and cranny are objects of inspiration, TONS and tons of books (as we’re both bibliophiles), our pear collection, and Sallyann’s millions of post-it note lists.

Thanks so much to Sallyann and Joe for sitting down with us today. See all of the SBiR rings here.

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Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Designer Interview: Darin Montgomery of urbancase

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Today we’re having a chat with Darin Montgomery of urbancase, to find out how his company came to be and to take a look at some of their work, from the design of a shelf to the interior design of an entire restaurant. Without further ado…

Sidebar in Walnut

How did your company get its start? What led you here?
I had a sculpture studio in South Seattle and was building custom furniture on a limited basis when I met a couple of cool guys who had a design/build firm across the alley. We immediately hit it off and started collaborating. It was a particularly interesting time in Seattle because quite a few restaurants and coffee shops were opening and we were able to work on a number of cool projects. The experience pushed me further towards designing functional objects and the idea of a furniture studio grew from there.

What was the first piece of furniture you remember making?
I was somewhere around 8 or 10 and made a wine glass rack for my Dad. I used scrap material found in our garage. I took great care assembling it but had no idea it should be clamped together until the glue dried. My Mom picked it up by the top and it fell apart. I was crushed. I repaired it, but it was known as Frankenrack from then on.
How does being in Seattle affect your design sensibility? What inspires you?
It’s difficult to specifically define how Seattle affects our designs but I believe everyone is influenced by their environment and we’re no exception. Seattle is a great city…pretty laid back, comfortable, easy to manage. I feel it’s reflected in much of what we do.

I’m inspired by thoughtful design (of any type) and a simple life.

What is your workspace like?
Our studio is in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a working class community with a mix of light industrial and residential areas. We have a modest but efficient shop space set up primarily for building prototypes, mock-ups, etc., which also includes a product display area where we keep a few pieces on hand. We’re lucky because we have roll up doors so we can bring the outdoors in and we’re very excited about our upcoming studio remodel.

1.2 Chair

What’s your favorite material to work with at the moment? We’ve been experimenting with Corian recently and have been having great success. But…walnut usually makes its way into the mix.

How does your team work together? What does each one of you bring to the table? One of us will generally come up with an idea or concept and throw it out for consideration. We’re comfortable sharing ideas without fear of sounding ridiculous even if something doesn’t come directly from it. And we’re honest and direct in our opinions. We each have different skills and backgrounds that seem to complement each other, but I believe it’s what we don’t bring to the table that is most important…ego.

Tell me a story about one of these pieces of yours that we sell. We were setting up at ICFF and I received a phone call from a gentlemen who, after he identified himself, I recognized because we shipped a Ledge to him the week before we left.

The conversation went like this:

Customer: I have a crate from urbancase sitting in my office and I have no idea what it is.
Me: It’s the walnut Ledge you ordered. We shipped it last week and sent the                           tracking number to your office.
Customer: What the @#%+ is a Ledge!?
Me: It’s our wall mounted desk.
Customer: I own a textile company, what do I want with a wall mounted desk.
Me: You’re asking the wrong guy…I didn’t order it.
Customer: (Laughter)…I guess you’re right.

We spoke later and had another good laugh. Someone in his office ordered the Ledge for display and a photo shoot and he wasn’t aware of it.

urbancase Ledge – Walnut

You’re also a design firm; please share a few portfolio shots from your projects with us! 1) Tilikum Place Cafe in Seattle. This used to be a print shop. Worked with the chef/owner on a full interior design:

2) All City Coffee – Seattle. A collaboration with Steve Withycombe on interior fixtures:

3) Residential railing – Seattle. Collaboration with NY based architect Mallory Shure:

Thanks so much to Darin for taking the time to share a little of his history and his work with us today! Personally, I would love to see a new, ridiculously sleek wine rack named Frankenrack that would redeem him from his early failure with glue.

See all urbancase products

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