An interview with Solleydesign

Design on Demand.

Practical design from the internet and accessible to everyone.

An interview for Impuls on SWR2 radio

June 29th 2015.

Katrin Boening and Sean Solley would like to remove barriers to designer furniture and reveal that “chic” design can also be achieved with a more considerate use of resources.  They want us to know that we don’t always need to use new materials or new machines to create new products. In fact we could make better use of the materials we find in our own homes; that could be the left overs from a freshly laid linoleum or parquet floor, fabric surplus, shoe laces or anything else that comes to hand. 

Respectively these resources represent the bi-products from commercial manufacturing processes. Off cuts that, for a few Euro can be picked up at any building supply store or hobby shop. Conventional methods of fabrication, storage and distribution could be significantly reduced by these “Design on Demand” principles.

AR       I can order your products online or purchase them directly, but I could also select to build them myself, right?”

KB       Exactly, you could receive a digital file from us that will allow you to cut your own materials. You might select your own colors or integrate a material that you have lying around at home such as acrylic or textile offcuts. The main point is that you can overtake the making process.

AR       That means that I can purchase the instructions, or the component parts, from you and then find out which carpenter could help me complete the product, which carpet store has a material to meet my needs, but steel? As a consumer I wouldn’t know where to look first.

SS        Of course, but you would be surprised how many small workshops you have in your locality. If you dig a bit deeper you’ll find good welders and material supply companies doing business in your area; they are knowledgeable and ready to help.

With their lamp designs it’s even easier. A designer lamp with instructions that makes the process as easy as putting Lego bricks together. But what if you’ve got two left hands or no time to build your own?”

KB       Anyone who doesn’t want to build their own can order a pre-finished one and then they just need to hang it up!

For Katrin Boening and Sean Solley; Professor of Interior Architecture and Design at Suffolk University in Boston, buying good, functional design should not be a question of income.

AR       Katrin, I had the impression that you had a little shock when you visited the first design shops in Germany. What struck you about the experience and what have you got to contribute in contrast?

KB       Yes, we were really surprised just how expensive lighting is, and we said that needn’t be the case anymore. People can, with minimal materials, arrive at really good design solutions. That was really our starting point. We like to use the stuff around us so we just got going. We picked out a material that appealed to us and asked, OK, what can we do here? This material bends; lets try this…..and we developed products that were unconventional as a result.

From design, the products are minimalistic but pleasantly colorful. “Stylish” as we say in New German. It’s not just the form or the materials that contribute to this; it’s the process itself that charts a new direction. Katrin Boening and Sean Solley are asking the public to be conscious of the hidden potential in everyday objects.”

KB       So the lamp; that won’t be hung from the ceiling. No, that gets hung from the wall. The standing lamp doesn’t stand on the floor; it leans on the wall. All sorts of other ideas emerged, each with minimal material use and a tight budget, enabling us all to afford one.

AR       Good design or many design classics are not necessarily environmentally friendly. Often environmentally friendly products look a little inelegant or earthy but not yours. What’s your take on this? How do good design, environmental responsibility and sustainability come together?”

SS        When people work together efficiently we save a lot of time energy, a lot of time and a lot of money. I think that’s achieved when people learn to appreciate how design achieves these goals. We really want to promote awareness.

The manufacture of expensive products in low wage countries, gigantic storage facilities, transportation of goods across many continents; each can be significantly reduced through the wider adoption of “Design on Demand”. At the same time, smaller, regional businesses can be supported; for example the good old local tradesmen that appear to be under threat in Germany.”

AR       What are we looking at here is that a lamp?

KB       This is a lamp that can be leant against the wall. It’s made from timber dowels like the ones you find in the DIY store, for low cost, and they’ve been sheathed with a shoe lace; and so every lamp gets its own color. These are then held together with uniquely shaped Plexiglas plates and….rubber bands”

AR       …and what’s it called?

SS        That’s the P-Y-L lamp.

AR       ….and I can build it or buy it off the internet; how much will it cost me?

KB       This lamp, or lampshade, costs about 80 Euros and the cloudlike lamp made with wire costs in the region of 180 Euros.

Hear the original German audio