In 2009, RISD graduates Theo Richardson, Charles Brill, and Alexander Williams founded Rich Brilliant Willing, a contemporary lighting and furniture design manufacturer based in New York City. Three years and several awards (and studios) later, they’re overseeing every aspect of their unique process from design to assembly to distribution. Here’s a look at their bustling Manhattan workshop.
Why did you start Rich Brilliant Willing? Where have you been; where are you going?
Alexander Williams: After graduation, we decided to share a basement studio space in the East Village as a place to bounce ideas off each other after work. We designed a small gallery space together for an art dealer that one of us was working for, and the energy in the process became addictive. We started working on some easily producible furniture objects after that. By 2008, the recession meant two of us had lost our day jobs — and it was an opportunity to spend most of our time in the studio.
Theo Richardson: Today, as we’ve evolved, I’m excited about two things: One, we’re getting better as designers via our involvement in manufacturing, and two, developing our own work, we have fewer constraints when it comes to pursuing our ideas.
What inspires you in your work?
Theo Richardson: I’m inspired about applying our efforts to affect greater change in living and working environments via larger distribution networks. We’re working on ways to make our product more accessible.
Were there any special considerations that affected the way your studio is set up? What do you like or dislike?
Charles Brill: I wish we had more space to spread out! Our space is divided between shop/building space, and an office space with a glass sliding door. We enjoy having visitors, and being central in Manhattan is important to us.
You scored a few vintage Eames molded plastic chairs for the studio. How they add to your workspace?
Charles Brill: They are great for an small office because they stack, are lightweight, and appear visually simple.
See the above featured “Delta” series lighting and more at richbrilliantwilling.com.