In contrast, new smart technologies promise to improve our lives almost daily. The things we do now whilst sitting on a chair are not the same as those we did just 10 or 20 years ago. Today we play with smartphones whilst eating banh-mi, chatting to Alexa and watching Netflix on our tablets. At the same time we’re told we sit too much and in the wrong way – slouching, hunching and squinting over devices. If we embrace these changes, we can create furniture that serves and improves consumers’ lifestyles now and in the future.
My own studio is known primarily for consumer technology and homeware. Whether we’re working on a smartwatch or designing a ladle, we begin each project with a careful exploration and mapping out of the proposed user journey. We immerse ourselves in every aspect of the UX – visual, physical, digital – from initial engagement to sustained interaction. This creates the framework for the design.
I’m interested in what the same user-centric approach might bring to the traditions and craft of contemporary furniture design. I’m not talking about crass add-ons or superficial flourishes, more the quiet details and features that sit in the background, waiting to be discovered. An armrest positioned precisely for the ease of e-book readers, for example; nobody would know to look at it. These are the subtle courtesies that delight users, who fall in love with an object’s style first and then can’t live without its companionship. As Charles Eames put it, “The details are details. They make the product. The connections, the connections, the connections. It will in the end be these details that give the product its life.”
But the real goosebumps come when insight and functionality are combined with craftsmanship and tradition, respecting and upholding the values and heritage of the brands we covet and love. This is what makes a story truly interesting.