The ARTIFOX design ethos begins with Sarah and Dan and their thoughtful partnership when developing each collection. We sat down with them to learn the why behind their design process and the artifacts that come with it.
If you missed Part I and you're interested in how ARTIFOX began in the first place, start here.
HOW ARE ARTIFOX DESIGNS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FURNITURE BRANDS?
DAN: We value simplistic quality artifacts that will last a lifetime. We focus on understanding what people really need in furniture and asking the important questions: how long are these materials going to last, how well is it going to hold my essentials, if I pour hot water on it what’s going to happen, if it gets impacted will it break, if it gets scuffed can I fix it?
SARAH: Imagine if you loved every single thing in your space. That’s what we’re out to design. Artifacts that are viewed as beautiful, modern, hand-selected pieces.
DO YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES HELP YOU DESIGN?
SARAH: Yes, while we were designing our first desk I was moving from apartment to apartment. The idea of flat packing suddenly became more important to me. We focused on disassembling down to one box to make it easier to move the things you love with you. All the design pillars that we care about so much now were formed by our early experiences.
DAN: We start with the problems we’ve experienced and create solutions for them with our own personal perspectives.
ONCE YOU’VE SET OUT TO SOLVE A PROBLEM, WHAT’S YOUR FIRST STEP?
DAN: We usually just start with listing out all the heartaches or negatives about the issue.
SARAH: Dan designs everything in his head first. You don’t see it on a piece of paper until he has it completely figured out. Then we talk it over and it's tweaked from there. The coolest part of the process is solving the problems we didn’t even know we had.
DAN: Definitely. It’s great when people don’t even notice a solution in the design because it’s so essential to the piece you don’t even think about it.
SARAH: The process is to create more iterations around the initial solution but many times we end up coming back to the first design. But in the exploration we find new ways to use or style it.
DAN: Once we find the solution, we find out what we’re really designing in the manufacturing process and what’s going to be difficult or successful to build. This leads into the follow up phase. We have to be sure we have the best materials and packaging for the artifact.
WHY DO YOU CALL YOUR PRODUCTS ARTIFACTS?
Dan: The definition of the word artifact is an object made by a human being. We really liked that definition and its simplicity has carried into the naming of our designs. That's why we title our artifacts things like SHELF and TRAY.
Sarah: I remember reading an article that described our first desk as "the type of object that an archaeologist could dig up 1,000 years in the future and study to deduce how we worked in the year 2014." We have always been fascinated with the way people use everyday products at a very primitive level.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN MANUFACTURING YOUR FIRST DESK?
SARAH: After working with the manufacturers on the first desk, we learned a lot. We discovered who should do what as far as craftsman labor and machined labor. After many challenges we decided to have the CNC machines do what they’re best at, things like alignment and repetitive constructions. People on the other hand, are better suited to do the finish and joinery. We want to continue to celebrate the hand craftsmanship while ensuring our artifacts are built with the same great quality every single time.
DAN: It also gave us insight on what packaging materials to use. We tested different options finding packaging that best kept artifacts protected in transit through different climates. Along with recyclability once the setup was complete.
DID THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS HELP YOU DECIDE ARTIFACT MATERIALS?
DAN: Yes, we switched most of our contact points to be metal on metal after going through the manufacturing process. Anything our customers are assembling or disassembling became metal. We knew this would be a better experience for our customers and help with the longevity of the desk.
WHY WAS CREATING THIS METAL JOINERY SO IMPORTANT?
SARAH: We realized by switching it all to metal on metal assembly, it meant the artifact could be disassembled multiple times without harming it. Whereas a lot of flatpack furniture you have to lock the parts together which makes it a lot harder to take apart.
DAN: We found a lot of furniture we’ve purchased was a one and done setup. You could maybe assemble it twice, but that’s it. But we were trying to create artifacts with longevity, something you could take everywhere. By having artifacts that will last a lifetime, it will create a more sustainable environment. Instead of going through 5-10 desks over the years, you just have one.
TELL US ABOUT THE MAJOR CHANGES TO THE DESIGN WHEN YOU RELEASED DESK 02.
DAN: DESK 02 has its own unique language. It was created to be modular, so we developed the channel to accommodate all of the various accessories that you can use to modify your setup. The channel also serves to Dock your devices and is an evolution on the previous design.
The Grid was implemented to allow much more control in how and where you manage your cables but we also really fell in love with the look and feel of a lot of the patterns we were creating.
IF YOU COULD DESIGN ANY ARTIFACT WITHOUT MANUFACTURING CONSTRICTIONS WHAT WOULD IT BE?
DAN: Our end goal is to ideally influence a space full scale, from landscaping all the way down to tableware and utensils. We want to create an entire living space with thoughtfully curated ARTIFOX designs.
SARAH: We’re always looking for artifacts to fit into our universe, even something as small as a chip clip! We want to see a beautiful design being used in every workspace or household situation.
Looking for more design insights, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.