Eschewing mass production also frees designers to concentrate on the development of their ideas and take creative risks that were simply not viable in the past. Whereas it sometimes took three to four years for a product to go to market, OTHR is now, as Dean points out, “allowing designers to bring products to market every two weeks.” This encourages fearless experimentation. The studio also makes a point of celebrating the designers it has collaborated with. “It’s about different points of creativity coming together that make something bigger and I think that is part of the DNA of the company.”
OTHR’s disruptive approach to design, Dean notes, shares clear parallels with Salle Privée’s mission when it comes to classic menswear. “There is no seasonality to what we’re doing in an industry that has a typically sophisticated and mature seasonality.” Instead of limited-edition runs, OTHR’s products are “accessible all year long in a constant flow.” Furthermore, mirroring Salle Privée’s vision for a man’s wardrobe, their aim is not to create an entirely new (and perhaps gimmicky) product for every design fair, but rather to refine the staples of the home to a degree never before seen. “It allows us to create very simple things that become iconic.”
The result is that everyday items, usually hidden away in drawers, become beautiful objects crying out to be displayed, all while retaining their utility. Joe picks up the extraordinary-looking ICO Bottle Opener, designed by Fort Standard and printed with 3D bronze, to illustrate his point. “It opens a bottle of any size, it’s the easiest you have ever used, and it’s aesthetic in the sense that it has presence and it’s unique.” An instantly iconic piece of design that could not have been made as a casting, it takes 2-3 weeks to produce and looks like no other bottle opener in the world.
Other acclaimed items include Michael Sodeau’s graceful porcelain Coffee Maker, and the sought-after Cru Cake Spatula and Knife Set, designed by Joe Doucet himself. These objects will only improve with time, he says, as the technology of 3D printing becomes more sophisticated. “The techniques used to manufacture our products are improving every year. We will continue to find ways to evolve them towards a state of perfection.” While the essential form and design of every item will remain the same, their finish and feel will be very different five years from now. Perfection in the 21st century is an act of distillation. Holding the bottle opener in his hands, he adds: “So it really is a living object.”