When we established notion back in November 2009 we had a clear idea about the work we would do. We had a list of the clients we hoped to work with, we understood the thinking that would drive that work and the processes which we would use to produce the best design work we could for them. It gives me great pleasure to say that every day seems to bring us closer to fulfilling that list, and we are all the more enthused by the projects we get to work on which get more and more interesting as notion grows.
That said, Marcel and I always wanted to create something of our own. I think this inclination probably exists in most designers, there seems to be an in built need for some kind of autonomy in our practice. From day one we would frequently share sketches and product ideas that didn’t really adhere to any one category. These ideas would float around the studio, occasionally making it out of a sketch book into a maquette or a form study but rarely getting any further than that.
In January 2013, following a particularly intense year of projects it seemed like the right time to give these ideas some time of their own. Occasionally things all line up, and they did so for us around Christmas 2012 when we completed two large consumer electronics projects. A window opened up and we let our very understanding clients know that we would be going offline for a little while. Fuelled by Stefan Sagmeister talks we began to dedicate some time to a small collection of products, not entirely knowing what the outcome would be.
That “little while” was originally planned as three months. As I have said to several people over the past month, if a client of ours said that they were going to design, prototype and launch a collection of five products in three months I would have laughed. Occasionally self belief can be a little too powerful. Here we are almost a full year later launching the outcome of our three-month experiment.
On the 1st of this month we were absolutely delighted to launch our new product brand NTN, and our first collection under that name.
This is a collection of personal objects all connected by design rather than product category. Over the past year we have become interested in how design can connect the products within a collection, and how this approach makes traditional product categories less relevant. This is something which we plan to explore under NTN, as we will release two collections of products every year.
Collection 01 features five objects; the Dowel Chair, Hammock Table, G1 Glasses, W1 Watch and Waterford Lamp. You can find all of these objects on www.ntn.ie where you will find more information about each. You can also find press information and a little more about what NTN is about. We are now in the process of getting each piece into production and we plan to have products from the collection available for purchase in early 2014.
We have to extend our sincere thanks to the people who were a massive help to us along the way. As always Rob Farrelly (@veryrobert) created a beautiful site and graphics, capturing what we hoped for perfectly. Rich Gilligan (@rgilliganphoto) photographed the products in exactly the same way, creating a set of photographs that blew us away. Fiona Snow (@laser_snow) at Laser Snow was a huge help, allowing us to test watch faces in her laser as well as making profiles and lens shapes for us. Lucy at Si+Lu (@siandlu) had much patience while we tried to work our way through upholstery and fabric patterns, creating excellent final pieces in the process. Tony and the team at the Irish Handmade Glass Company also helped us hugely through the glass prototypes, successes and failures. Do not try to make an enormous beech glass blowing tool on your first time out. Finally I have to thank our clients who were very understanding as we said a temporary goodbye.
On that note we are fully back up and running at notion and both companies now exist in parallel. We are already heavily involved in project work and it promises to be a busy few months. As said above you can find out all about NTN on www.ntn.ie and follow on twitter @madebyntn. We will be following up on this post with a look at the making of each object in the coming weeks.
I have to finish by agreeing with Sagmeister. Work your arms off and get to a position where you can take a step back. It has been only positive from our point of view regardless of the outcome. What we learned along the way has already influenced client work for the better and I believe it will continue to do so.