“We need contrast and tension to be able to create,” says Hecht, an industrial designer naturally drawn to the details of a project. A tendency complemented by Colin, a trained architect with an eye for big-picture connections. “If Sam gets really small on something,” she explains, “I can back out and say ‘that’s great, but is it relevant? How does it connect?’” An observation acknowledged by Hecht, who describes their design process as a series of conversations. Working together in this way, the two find balance, a fact evident in the simple elegance of their designs.
“In the natural world, complexity thrives with reason,” says Sam Hecht of Industrial Facility. “Beauty is simply a result of constant growth.”
When designing the Branca chair for Mattiazzi, Hecht and his partner Kim Colin turned to nature. “In particular, the branches of a tree provided the critical analogy for the project.” Like a tree, the chair has elements that turn, twist, meet, and branch. “The different points may seem random but are all intentional.”
Carved from a single piece of wood, Branca pushes the notion of robotic craftsman. Using a combination of sophisticated CNC machining and traditional hand-shaping and finishing techniques, the simple design belies the complexity of its production.
The result is a chair that is comfortable to the eye and the body, light enough to carry and easy to stack.
When working with Hecht, “We took our time in the development, to refine every detail and dimension,” explains Cristina Salvati of Mattiazzi. “Branca’s design was something special that could not be rushed through a formal process.”
This appreciation for the details of authored design is what brought Herman Miller and Mattiazzi together, making us the exclusive distributor of Mattiazzi products in the U.S. and Canada.
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.”