So much for a narrow focus.

(Y’see this is why it’s a problem.)

Because this post is all over the place.

I entered the DesignBoom/Swarovski Crystal product design competition yesterday. Sadly, that’s pretty much all I’m allowed to say about it in public because of the rules of the contest.  Stay tuned, sports fans.  Oh and please, don’t talk about the contest with me here (beyond the usual generic comments.)  You can always contact me via other means if you need to know something.

I also registered to attend this year’s ICFF here in NYC.  This would be my first time going.  In previous years there was always something that screwed with the scheduling and I couldn’t make it.   Hopefully the registration goes through smoothly(nope. I have five days to fax them a crapload of stuff. Damn it.)  and I’ll be able to give everyone a full report of all the interesting and inspiring things I find. I assume they will let me in with Ye Nikon o Wonderment, but  I suppose I’ll find out (and not the hard way, cause I am *not* traipsing all the way down there for them to fight with me at the gate over my damned camera.)  I also want to scope it out because I am strongly considering exhibiting there next year with one of my own furniture pieces.
Which I guess means that now is as good a time as any to talk about that.  I really like designing furniture.  I tell people all the time, and this is the absolute truth, that I design furniture because I hate shopping.  I would rather design it myself than have to shop. I also find that a custom solution is very often the best one, but mostly I just hate shopping *that much*.  (Yes, I know I’m anti-social. I’ve been told.)

I admit, when I went into design school I had no idea that I’d wind up being the kind of designer I am when I came out the other side.  I do think I was more prepared than most of the people that were there with me, since I’d been working in the industry (just not as a designer) for so long before I decided to just go under the rock to get my most recent degrees.   And I’m grateful that my department chairman was (and I have no doubt still is), a sadistic, brutal, workhorse of a person (whom frankly, I adore to bits- you either love him or you hate him, and I think he walks on water.)  because I do believe honestly that he made me a better designer (even if I did tell him to go fuck himself on a regular basis for years.  He got used to it.  Yes, I know I’m anti-social. I’ve been told.)

Anyway, back to furniture. See, one of the problems with being as introverted (not shy, just introverted) as I am is that you often have an exposure problem. Unfortunately, the meatspace world still overwhelmingly works in favor of extroverted people, and I promise I’m never going to be one of them. So you may do a lot of really good work, but no one ever sees it because you have to deal with all those people, and you’d rather eat ground glass than have to do that on any given day.  It takes you a little while to find a series of coping mechanisms so you can interact on that level.

I have finally worked it all out to a point where I feel comfortable looking into getting at least one of my furniture pieces prototyped.  There’s a steep learning curve involved, but fortunately I know smart people who are able to assist.  I’m going to try to get the simplest one done first, since simple means less likely to have some kind of serious problem.  So, fewest materials, easiest construction.  Fortunately, it is the kind of piece that would fit in quite nicely at any ICFF event, so I am going to try to work it out somehow.

The first thing I looked into was getting a patent on the design. It may be that I wind up sending the design out overseas to be prototyped, and I really, *really* would like not to run into 40zillion of my chairs on sale on Canal Street before I ever get the original prototypes back.

Fortunately,  I know a smart person at the patent office, who kindly looked into it for me,  and told me that the expense wasn’t worth it- that the only way it’s honestly worth it is if you have the money to actually sue if the patent is violated, and patent suits are super expensive.

Well, poop.

My personal familiarity is with copyrights, not patents (I used to be a musician- I was smart enough at the time to take a course in copyright law.) So, my understanding now is that though the images of my chair are protected under copyright(and they are.), the actual physical product wouldn’t be. The expense of all of this now clears up a lot in my head about the proliferation of knockoff designer furniture out there. Now it all makes sense.

So I suppose the first steps are to find out what materials are most appropriate for the finished product (who knew there were so many kinds of rubber?) , and to work out making what I suppose could be called a pre-prototype out of “some other material that I can put together in my house”) in order to work out the engineering- how many pieces the chair will need, how it should be put together, etc.
Maybe I should do it in miniature first. That sounds less daunting. I see injection molded plastic and tool dip in my future.  Also, gathering a bunch of stuff to prove my credentials to the ICFF.  Bleah.

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4 Comments

  1. If you ever need other patent stuff, you remember that the man I live with is an examiner, yes?

  2. Who do you think I asked in the first place? He’s the only person I know at the patent office. 🙂

  3. Ah – well, I never know who you might know. You have odd connections.

  4. Good point.


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