- Industrial Design
- Experimental Design
“Why are brackets so shit?”
Whether they’re holding together flat pack furniture or high-end fitted storage, brackets frankly disappoint our Gobi team. For something so ubiquitous, all of them are depressingly ugly. As Creative Director David Cameron says “you either have to hide them, or design them out of the way”.
From this desire to make an essential element in our lives better, Gobi created Brakit – a colourful, graphical steel bracket that can be used to build or customise furniture and storage. It is designed to work with off-the-shelf materials, such as timber you can get from your local hardware store, to create solutions that are made to fit – functionally and aesthetically.
“Where do we start?"
Using our 3D printer, we made a series of prototypes. The filament colours we sourced gave us the pastel palette which made Brakit unmistakably different from anything that had gone before it. We swiftly moved into production prototypes and worked with a manufacturer to develop a streamlined, cost-effective process. This included laser-cutting the steel, which was then formed and powder coated.
“Who is this for?”
Our designer sensitivities about the ugliness of brackets was, of course, not enough. It was imperative we put our energies into something that had a recognisable need, so identifying the people who would use Brakit was fundamental to its development. Because we were aware of the growing ‘maker movement’ – people who are committing to staying longer in one property and making the most out of it - we focussed on people with basic skills who feel comfortable in a hardware store.
“What’s it for?”
To learn more about what people want from bespoke furniture and storage, we asked a number of colleagues and friends to make a photo-diary of their specific needs at home. Many talked about ‘deadzones’ – awkward spaces that no shop-bought solution could fit (such as under the stairs). They also mentioned those collections of items – from shoes to Penguin paperbacks – that require a specific and clever use of storage space.
From these learnings, we saw how Brakit is a tool which helps people design their own solutions. Sharing what others make with it creates the opportunity to build a community around Brakit – one where people could also get a cutting list and find local suppliers. We realised how Brakit was more than a (well-designed) item – it has the potential to be a system.
“Where do we go from here?”
We're interested in running a batch production of Brakit, which we can share with the wider public to discover more about how people use them and help us with product development. We’ve made Brakit Builder – a browser-based digital product allowing real-time configuration – which will give us insights into the design of configurator tools and spatial interfaces beyond Brakit. We're currently developing this tool to become smarter by using Machine Vision and Machine Learning to train our app to recognise unordered stacks and piles of objects. The app suggests storage solutions based on what it sees. Contact Gobi or read our other client stories here.
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