Meet Brendan Dawes, the brilliant mind behind MoviePeg – a little stand that holds your iPhone at just the right angle. This is the first time I’d heard about 3D printers and I’m still not sure I quite understand how they work but I feel confident that Brendan does. And I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
What kind of work do you do and how much of it happens at home? And where is home? There was a time when I could easily describe myself as an interaction designer, and I still do that a lot. But I recently got into creating physical products so I think maker of things probably suits what I do a lot more. For me interaction in its widest sense is the commonality running through all the work – whether that’s an interface that encourages curious exploration such as doodlebuzz.com, the data visualisation of Cinema Redux or the packaging design on MoviePeg, the objects, if we can call them objects, have to illicit some form of emotional response from you. I’d like to think that I design objects that have the capacity to be loved.
Home is where a lot of the initial prototypes and thinking takes place. My office is more of a hackerspace come laboratory; a place where I can concentrate free from distraction or the noise of the everyday. All my personal projects were made in this space and even things like MoviePeg was first realised at home. I’d had this idea for a super simple iPhone stand after getting home late one night from London. I still have the cardboard version I made that night.
Home itself is a place called Southport, a Victorian seaside town on the north-west coast of England. I live in a Victorian town, in a Victorian house, go to work on infrastructure put in place by the Victorians and work in a building built by the Victorians, in Manchester the birthplace of the industrial revolution! They were pretty clever those Victorians and it’s amazing how much we still relay and use the things they invented. Yet with work as with everything else, things are changing – no longer does the “go to a place of work to do some work” model really work. I can’t say though I’m a big fan of total home working. I think it works for some people, but for me I have to have that social interaction that with a team of people. As someone who practices interaction design surely the best thing I can do is actually interact with other human beings?
Describe your style and how it influences the work you do and the space you work in. Random, eclectic, non-linear. I get bored quite easily so I’m always looking for new things to play with, to tear apart and to put together in new ways. So the space that I work in is a kind of extension to that. I’d love to say it was this modernist utopia of simple clean lines that is a completely considered space but it wouldn’t be the truth. Instead it’s a jumble of an old generic office desk, a Danish chair from Ebay, shelves from Ikea, and a horrible cheap shelving filled with industrial plastic bins brimming with curious electronic parts and objects that may or may not appear in a future project. One day I will start all over and build my dream space. Until then the space kind of works.
How do you keep your work space organized? I try and keep surfaces clean and clutter free as possible, and I try and keep things in compartments on the actual shelves. There’s no system as such but I can tell you where anything is at any time because the objects themselves have almost become part of the furniture. I also used to have something like eight hard drives, all stacked up on my desk, all with separate power and it was a nightmare to find files. I simplified all of them down to one hard drive – a Drobo; now it’s much simpler and, of course, uses less power. Plus it has very sexy blue lights on the front!
What is your favorite piece of workspace furniture? I think the chair I use at home. My wife Lisa found it on Ebay a few years ago and whilst I haven’t a clue who made it I do know it’s Danish – which fits well with the 60’s Bang & Olufsen hifi I bought from Ebay. I love the size of it – it’s huge – and the leather and wood, but most of all the reason I love it so much is because of what Lisa went through to find a chair she knew I would like, spending days on Ebay to get the right kind of thing. It’s an object that is impregnated with a story and means so much more to me because of that.
What desk accessory can’t you do without? The Kum Long Point pencil sharpener is a thing of wonder. I own three of them; one at home, one in my bag and one at work. Having tried various pencil sharpeners over the years, and being a bit of a pencil geek, this thing was a revelation; a beautiful piece of design that does it’s job really well, like all good design should.
What would you change about your work space? Storage. Infinite storage shelves that could constantly expand, like some kind of shelf based hard drive for my things. Think I might need to work with a particle physicist to make that one happen though. But I can dream.
What inspires you? Right now the proliferation of personal 3D printers such as the Thing-O-Matic from Makerbot. I have this machine on my desk, I design something on the computer, press a button and kapow! There is the object that a few minutes ago was just pixels on a screen now being held in my hand. The possibilities of such things completely blow my mind; imagine a future were you can jump on the web, buy and download an object it and have it print out in front of you – no postage, no fulfillment, no packaging just delivered to you instantly. I’ve even designed and printed my own modular desk tidy system for my pencils that I use everyday. Why buy one when I can design one that was perfect for my needs and print it out? Of course it makes duplication and piracy really easy, in fact I know that our MoviePeg product already exists in a copied form on a 3D printing site. But those are things we’ll just need to work out as we move forward with this incredible technology. But here’s the thing – only a short while ago personal 3D printers were a pipe-dream, yet here we are today and I have one sat on my desk, at home. Who knows what will come about, next year, next week, tomorrow.