The ArcWorks Design project leaders are Heidi Berrios, Arc Works business development manager, and Sherry Murphy, Day Lite program manager. The Arc secured a grant from the University of Rochester Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences to help jumpstart the project.
“I love the character of this first piece,” said Sandra Turner, industrial design instructor at RIT, who is also involved. “The wood is not totally buffed and sanded. The legs are not perfect. It has an unfinished feeling to it. The overall design is very intriguing and mysterious. I feel like ArcWorks Design can make a statement in the world of design.”
Rickel’s vision is for other pieces to follow, with Arc Works Design again deeply involved. The team will be led by guest designers selected by Rickel. For now, however, Rickel is hands-on and enjoying every minute of it.
“Stan has really captivated us with his enthusiasm and talents,” said Moylan. He has been very, very generous with his time. He has introduced us to the world of design and given us the opportunity to launch an exciting new business line. We always wanted to have a sustainable product we could call our own, so this is a dream come true.”
Rickel firmly believes in the abilities of individuals with developmental disabilities and feels that their unique character and gifts can enrich the field of industrial design. The overall intent of the project, however, is not philanthropic. Stan Rickel, RIT’s Graduate Director for Industrial Design, is the driving force behind the launch of this new initiative.
“This gets away from traditional manufacturing and takes advantage of a more human side of design,” he said. “As consumers, we’re so far removed from the life of the objects we use. We want to put a face and a story on these furniture pieces and make each one different from another. We want a strong bond between the consumer and their product. These pieces and the way they are made will be a celebration of individual character.”
For example, the table tops are from imperfect spalted maple from stressed trees. No two tops are alike. “We leave the wood edges as they come,” said Rickel. “We don’t want to turn this into typical cabinetwork. It needs to have individual character, like the individuals making them.”
“The character of the piece has to come from the individuals or it’s a failed design. They helped choose the wood at the lumber store. They voted on the potential pieces. They are using a mechanical bender to bend the legs. They chose the DS7 name. They will physically brand the DS7 logo into each piece of wood. They are very active in the entire process.”
Along with the branded logo, each piece will also have its own serial number and come with a description of how the product was made and the philosophy behind it. According to Rickel, every customer will know the unique story behind the purchase they made. “Not everything needs to be perfect,” he said. “In fact, the contrast is brought out more if it’s imperfect. Imperfection is the part you remember. It becomes endearing. Only the tabs (which affix the legs to the table) and the feet are exactly the same. The legs differ slightly from one another and the tops do for sure.”
The DS7 will create 15 tables initially, which they have nicknamed “ants” because of the table’s low height and strength. The tables will come in three different sizes and eventually be sold online and in galleries, according to Rickel. Guest designers are selected by Stan Rickel and the ArcWorks Design team.
Purchase an Ant