“We want products that will last"

“Our process involves understanding what is most appropriate for the moment we are living in, for the people who use and live with the objects we design, achieving suitable commercial success,” states Hecht. “We want products that will last, so we need to challenge the client and create fundamental innovations that are relevant to society. We work with clients who are ready to truly innovate and join us on a journey that involves a lot of discussion and reflection; we adopt a painstaking approach and make every effort to create things that are revolutionary”.

Industrial Facility teamed up with Urbidermis Santa & Cole to design the Slope and Tumbler light fixtures, which Landscape Forms launched in the American market in 2019. Tumbler received the 2020 Red Dot award for Urban Design.

From his Industrial Facility article and a 2019 interview with Landscape Forms, Sam Hecht shares Industrial Facility’s ideas on design and the studio’s design process.

The origins and methodology of Industrial Facility’s work

I am going to describe our studio in London and the different ideas we pursue. We do not have a template or a fixed, defined process, or a methodology as such. Most of the work we do arises out of conversations in the studio, with each other, and with the numerous factories we work with, our clients and their buyers. However, different lines of thought do coexist. All of them converge in an effort to make design a source of satisfaction, pleasure and relevance, so we enjoy seeing how the manufactured products stay with us over time and are not destroyed out of pure frustration or quickly thrown away.

The importance of context - more than just a product

The design should be invisible; it should not hinder use, but rather ensure it is pleasing, from its location in a room to its relationship with the surroundings.

When we work with a company and develop a design, we rarely think directly about the product. We think about what surrounds it. In other words, we go well beyond the briefing, regardless of what the client expects of us, as this is what gives the project its meaning, its purpose.

When Industrial Facility was designing the Tumbler and Slope light fixtures in conjunction with Urbidermis Santa & Cole, Hecht and Colin re-examined the nature of lighting in a broader context. As Sam explains: “If we had designed Tumbler or Slope exclusively for humans, then we would likely have started by distorting the characteristics, becoming influenced by style and fashions. However, our process is to say that the world can be much simpler than that. The city, trees and woods, buildings, cars, streets and villages, like people themselves, are all on the same level. Everything is equally important. We consider it from a plural perspective. Designing in this way allows us to consider the pavement texture, the buildings, pedestrians. These are all equally important elements which, together, make up the city”.

With simplicity, very little can be hidden

Design should not be seen as temporary. We should all feel anxiety if an object breaks or a part of it gets worn out, and try our best to save it.

I would be the first to admit that we do indeed like simple things. The reality of this path is you cannot hide behind simplicity, as everything is laid bare before you. You are forced to find the essence of the object or project, and this has to live in its own right through its simplicity. Without this essence, it will not survive for long. We often find products in the world that are confusing and complicated, with features we don’t need, which get in the way of this essence.

The path to simplicity is often chaotic, full of loops and roundabouts. Simplicity is not a trend or a style; it cannot be applied, all you can do is work to achieve it. It is a difficult and laborious process, by which things are made simple and pleasing to use. The investment in the necessary time and resources to achieve simplicity is so high that few products obtain it.

“Although the Slope and Tumbler light fixtures seem simple and refined, they required a great deal of work, reflection and commitment; it was a significant project. Everything is painstakingly done under the constant oversight of design”.

Design is much more than a product

There is another type of sustainability (undervalued, in our opinion), which involves ensuring products have the qualities of longevity and resistance that justify their manufacture and their distribution. We know that, given the right balance between quality and character, we love keeping these products with us for longer if we can. In the end, this is a much more ecological and efficient form of sustainability, as it means it is likely that, if we eventually get bored of the object, someone else might value it and find a use for it after us. What is the sense in designing for sustainability if the object does not have lasting quality, rather than designing something that is not necessarily conceived as sustainable but which, in the end, has a longer working life?

Part of a company’s responsibility is to promote the idea that good things should be long-lasting. There should be a culture of investing in design; demanding more than material quality from the idea, so that products outlast fashion and stay in circulation.

“The idea of longevity is crucial to the Tumbler and Slope lighting fixture lines, not just in the choice of materials and use of LED technology, but also in the context of the garden, car park, campus and all the environments in which they might be found. Thinking about all this, and not just about the lights themselves, helped us achieve a harmony that prevents them from seeming obsolete”.