"How do you design something so it will never be thrown away?"


I don't remember many of the toys I had as a kid. What my brother and I played with instead was a collection of grandpa's old hand tools and a dumpster of leftovers from my parents epic DIY renovation projects. We played by making things. Makeshift guitars, skateboard ramps, crossbows... I come from along line of folks who made their own toys, fixed their own cars and built their own furniture. It wasn't until I went away to study art & design at the University of Kansas that I realized how rare this type of upbringing was becoming for my generation. I wanted to carry on in the spirit of my youth, and that meant a job where I could produce a tangible result every day.

I spent the next decade moving around the country, accumulating practical skills like carpentry and welding, and constantly thinking about how to build things of greater utility. How can I make this work better? How can I make this idea simpler? How do you design something so it will never be thrown away?

The furniture I'm building now is inspired by these General Ideas:


General Idea No. 1

An object will last as long as the necessity persists, the construction provides, and the fashion prevails.


General Idea No. 2

Sustainability is a matter of renewing production resources over the lifetime of the object - precious materials are best reserved for objects of long term utility.


General Idea No. 3

The object that improves with use develops the strongest relationship with its user.


General Idea No. 4

The elegant solution is simple, but not obvious.


General Idea No. 5

The best tools have more functions than parts.



Brian Fansler, 2011.