Last week we read It Will Be Exhilarating by Studio Neat in preparation for our Google Hangout session with them. There were several points that stood out to me, but one that resinated the most in regards to my own project. “Simplicity often involves some level of sacrifice or compromise.” I was having a tough time letting go of the use of a spring system in my frame in order to simplify the parts and construction. At first it felt like I was losing the very thing that made it special. After all, my inspiration was the ViewMaster mechanism. But Studio Neat quoted Jonathan Ive, “Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product,” and I began to define my design (sans springs) through its initial purpose. More to come on the progress of that…
It Will Be Exhilarating was written a couple of years ago and it was interesting to hear certain shifts in perspectives from Tom and Dan. The book surveyed Studio Neat’s process and success up to that point. One aspect that remains the same is the scale of their firm. It started as a “two dude” company and they are very keen on keeping it that way, at least for the near future. Another is the way their projects manifest. All of their products thus far have come from “being in tune to the little frictions” in their lives and designing solutions around them.
The added distance of time between the book and the Hangout allowed for another marker to reconsider their work. In order to sustain their company and stay focused on design, they outsource for production, fulfillment and accounting. Both Tom and Dan acknowledged they leave a trail of products behind, always excited to chase the new project rather than maintain the current line.
Studio Neat reminds me of the quickstep. They move quickly and always in the forward direction. The versatility of the dance allows for formality and informality in style, speaking to the variety of products they provide. Studio Neat’s work depends on the “little frictions” much like the syncopations that break up the quickstep and of course, its a partnered dance.