This has been a strange day, mostly because some of my friends who have run a really great studio have decided to shut it down, 483 weeks in.
I met them when we were still students, Jack‘s class came to visit mine in Ivrea in April 2005. The year after he was to design Availabot and I came up with the Good Night Lamp. I visited his RCA degree show which also included the work of Matt Brown (who would move on to work for them) and Andy (who designed most of Little Printer’s hardware) and became a great friend. I had met Timo at Ivrea while he was a visiting professor and remember being very inspired even then.
Almost 10 years on and with the help of Matt Webb, they worked up quite a team. People I admire, friends. Tinker had an office in the same building for many years and I always made sure to have lunch with whomever they’d hired because I knew they’d be smart. I also often hired them as freelancers when they left. They got what connected products could become and illustrated those ideas well. Interaction design, applied. Of their work, my favorites were the simplest projects, nice prints of a distorted New York (which i’m sure influenced Inception’s head of photography), simple yet powerful ideas about travelling and totally dystopian products like Little Printer which I rushed to buy. I used it with care and curiosity to remind myself of the few words of spanish I once knew, to get an etching of a butterfly every morning. Even when it seemed to stop working, I still have it now, next to my TV, unplugged, because it’s strange, it’s pretty and it looks good in my home.
What they tried to build was a real challenge. Middleware for the internet of things is tough. Reviving printing is even tougher. The market isn’t there yet, they’re too used to buying at Hamley’s things that can be explained easily. That isn’t what these guys do. Things are moving fast, but they started this journey a few years ago already. A little too early. That takes vision and courage. Too much of that exists out of sight, in large corporations, and they were small, imperfect, yet perfectly formed to react to today’s changing technological landscape. Because of that, I don’t doubt they’ll all find work quickly but I also hope they keep that spirit with them, the spirit of wanting to start small, perfectly, imperfectly formed companies. The internet of things needs that more than ever.
Berg team, see you soon, I hope.