Over the last few weeks, I've been up late and wrestling with the roll-out of the Zip Tie Lounger, now available on OpenDesk. Specific design aside, the whole project was an experiment with process, looking into ways to design, distribute, and build physical products by moving around information instead of matter. For most of history, moving around matter wasn't much of an issue, as the limits of horse-drawn transportation limited any practical shipping radius. The clipper ship, then the railroad, then the truck, and now the container ship (or airplane) gradually expanded those radii until they encompassed the whole world.
In the course of my research, I mostly focused on IKEA as the modern extension of all these ideas, as they have brought flat-pack furniture to perhaps its truest expression of form. Along the way, they stole ideas from the best, combining big-box retail and old-fashioned catalog sales to bring their retail model to maximum efficiency. But IKEA, Sears Roebuck, and even OpenDesk have roots that run far deeper, back to the early part of the 19th century.Read More