When designers approach their medium with such a religiosity that it pushes their work into an unattainable or off-putting place, it can make the viewer a bit uncomfortable. On the other hand, not taking your work seriously enough is a recipe for kitsch, and being relegated to that dustbin of history. Enter Bridie Picot and Matt Smith, two native New Zealanders behind the design studio Thing Industries, whose work flits back and forth between the arch and the architectural. The duo — with Matt based in New Zealand and Bridie based in New York — spend most of their time communicating through a string of emails with a massive time delay; considering that logistical nightmare, it’s hard to imagine what would happen if the two weren’t able to take their practice lightly, and this certainly translates to the products they create. Who wouldn’t want a furry poof that looks like it may come to life any second? An oversized stuffed banana? We’ll take three! Luckily for us, we were able to get the duo together and in the same city for OFFSITE a few weekends back. Read on to learn more about the duo and be sure to keep an eye on these two!
Describe your most recent project and how it was made.
We’ve been working on prototyping our Corner Ladder for the last couple of months. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin, designed to use up dead space in the corner and provide storage for magazines or towels on the rungs, with a shelf on the top for displaying things. The wood is manufactured in upstate New York so we’re just perfecting the color stains and working on shipping logistics (the not fun part) to our warehouse in Maryland.
Describe your next project and how you’re making it.
The next project is a cheeseboard thing with Helen Levi. She made some really cute fruit necklaces a while back (I own the pineapple one) and because of those we approached her about collaborating on this with us. It’s a maple cheeseboard that comes with a set of three animals – a cow, sheep and goat – that sit next to the cheese you’re serving as a kind of marker.
Tell us one thing that’s been inspiring you lately and why.
We’re loving the Lazy Mom duo of Phyllis Ma and Josie Keefe. They’ve got a great Instagram full of dancing processed cheese and pre-cooked sausages. It’s the total opposite of our wholesome New Zealand upbringings but one of their baloney and processed-cheese sandwich concoctions would have been my dream come true at age 6.
Show us your studio and tell us what you like about it.
The great thing about our work is we can do it from anywhere, as long as we have good internet. Towards the end of March, we escaped the beginning of the New Zealand winter (Matt) and the end of the New York winter (Bridie) and spent a couple of weeks working from LA and Palm Springs. It’s pretty much halfway between us, and we get much more done when we’re in the same time zone. We tried to do the same thing over New Year’s in Marahau, New Zealand where Bridie’s mum has a holiday house (above), but there, you’re lucky if you can get cell reception. It was good for offline things like sketching ideas for the new collection, but apart from brushing up on our badminton, not much else got done.