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L.A.’s Newest Design Brand, TOOOLS

Back in 2012, we wrote about the launch of a gallery called Beginnings in Brooklyn, which, a year later, met an untimely and unfortunate end. But two of the gallery’s founders have since gone on to forge a new (ahem) beginning, this time giving it a far less superstitious name: TOOOLS, a Los Angeles–based object-design company recently started by artist Caroline Hwang and designer Joel Speaskmaker that aims to be “a new company with an old ethos: form & function.” See what the duo have to say about the project below, then scroll down for images of their first two projects, Treasure Box and Banchan.

Are you making all of these objects personally or are they produced by others?
Caroline: Banchan is made by myself personally. There will be other objects/products coming in the future that will be made by others.
Joel: Treasure Box was made in collaboration with Big Secret, a laser fabrication studio in Richmond, Virginia, where I’ve lived previously.

Why did you decide to start a products company?
Caroline: For me, it’s another creative outlet. I’m a little A.D.D about all the things I want to do and this was one of them.
Joel: Honestly at first I was simply along for the ride. Caroline has the best ideas and it was natural for me to start creating a graphic identity for a company that could support them. She also helped to push me into creating Treasure Box, using a process that I had very little experience with — product design — but learned so much from and am really enjoying doing more of. I have a huge interest in symbolism, antiquity, and certain mysteries throughout the world that I hope to explore in this new medium.

What’s your plan for the rest of this year? How often will you release new things?
Joel: We have a handful of products in the development stages, with no timetable set yet. Caroline is currently finishing up Series 01 of Banchan, and there will be a second series of twenty unique sets released towards the end of the summer. Since everything is done by hand and either one-of-a-kind or in low quantities, it’s more difficult to branch out into selling through retailers, but we are very happy to be stocked at Individual Medley here in Los Angeles, and are working on a potential collaboration with them as well.

Is there any plan or rule for what you will and won’t be making in the future, beyond their being functional everyday objects?
Caroline: The rule of thumb is “form & function,” and our products must always follow that rule. We don’t want to create an object just for the aesthetic quality of it, though that’s important to us. There’s so much stuff being produced in the world, and therefore so much waste, that we want to be sure our products are highly usable as well.
Joel: We want people to be as happy using them as we are making them!
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