As part of Design Now, a series connecting important designers and thinkers with Herman Miller, I had the opportunity to meet Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, founders of London-based Industrial Facility. Together, they shared their perspective on the junction between industrial design and the world around us. Here’s a bit from our conversation:
What influence does the landscape have on a product? And the product on the landscape?
Hecht: “If people are in equilibrium with the objects, the furniture, the room, and so on, then you begin to change the way you perceive the object. It becomes more truthful.
The example we often give is a glass of water. You cannot just see a glass of water without seeing the surface it sits on, the room it is in, the building that holds the room, the city where the building is grounded… that simple glass of water is no more or less important than the landscape and the people around it”.
Colin: “The products we work on, we hope, acknowledge more of the world in this way. Sometimes they don’t have to do as much, because other things are already doing it—they don’t always need to do more. It’s also important to think of the object beyond its moment of use. There is another function beyond this — living with it.”
Your clients are all over the world, is it possible these days to design something for one culture?
Colin: “We are often asked to design for a specific market. But because of the way we question what we are given, we naturally make the problem larger. The brief is specified for a local condition, and the product must make a local connection. But there are many global influences that lean on the local condition–a kind of ambient influence. So we identify with those as well. The product must be small (local), as well as big (global).
Mostly, we see how [a product] fits within a much broader picture, not just in the world culturally, but how it fits with the way behaviors are changing, not just here, but as much as possible, everywhere.”