Tech start-up Groopti, a website that uses crowd sourcing and boutique manufacturing to help emerging designers get new products off the ground, is set to launch a series of bespoke cardboard furniture. We know all too well that the job of a product designer is only about 10 percent pen to paper, and the other 90 percent is testing for business viability, customer desirability, and technical feasibility to get the product made. Groopti aims at breaking down the barriers for designers who want to produce and sell unique home products by helping the concepts make it to the market, while also serving the design aficionados that crave uncommon products, but can't afford showroom prices. Inhabitat will be bringing you exclusive coverage of Groopti's cardboard furniture series, so check back each Monday in January to see their newest release!
Groopti was conceptualized by long time friends Duri Chitayat and Adam Wihlborg and grew out of strong partnerships with quality low-volume manufactures formed through their previous careers. They now have a small, but very dedicated team of talented and worldly creatives located in New York City and Shanghai. Many of the manufacturers that they partner with to produce Groopti products are located in Shanghai, but they are expanding production in the US, Europe, and beyond.
Groopti’s website provides a platform where designers present original works, and fans vote for which concepts should become reality. Groopti guarantees to produce and sell the winning items on behalf of the designer, and even provides a minimum 7% royalty (some of Groopti’s call for designs have offered a huge 25% royalty!). Better yet, designers get to keep the rights to their works, so they can produce and sell them elsewhere whenever they want.
Groopti also provides help with product engineering. During the development of the Comic Shelf, one of Groopti’s recent successful launches, Groopti’s engineers worked with the shelf’s designer Oscar Nunez to make sure it would be secure on the wall, while keeping the slim profile design intent.
In the Month of January, Groopti will be unveiling four stellar cardboard products, which were the top voted designs from a contest run on the website last fall. These pieces will be Groopti’s first collection of products made from cardboard. When we spoke with Groopti about why they choose this material they said it was partially due to cardboard’s sustainably (it has 90% recycled content and is 100% recyclable), strength, and design flexibility. Another reason is that the Groopti team was often noticing that cardboard concepts are showing up on independent designer portfolios everywhere, but are hard to find in the marketplace. They are on a mission to try to fix this paradox for the design community.
The first piece in their Cardboard Furniture launch is the Conflicted Corrugation chair by graphic designer Jessica Bogart. A Creative Director from New York, who has started a company creating children’s e-books and apps, Bogart designed the chair to be a complicated swirling cut passing through many layers of cardboard. Groopti’s manufacturing partners use 90% recycled content cardboard, that is cut using an automated process for precision and consistency.
Check out the video below to see the development process for Conflicted Corrugation.
This chair is an example of function and concept colliding” says Bogart. “I started by exploring the idea of a single piece fighting against itself. It interested me to impose such a human emotion on an inanimate object.”
Like all Groopti submissions, only designs that are able to made within their manufacturing capabilities make it onto the website to be voted on. Currently, Groopti’s capabilities include canvas and aluminum printing, 3D printing, and producing of products using veneers, bamboo, reclaimed wood, as well as bent and hand-carved woods.
Their model is only to produce pieces after they are ordered, so there is never any wasted stock. This on-demand model is made possible by partnerships the group has to share shipping space across the waters. For Groopti, that main goal is not about getting as much product built in order to return revenue. Wihlborg told Inhabitat that it is “not about selling furniture. Its about helping people.” We discussed with the Groopti team how there are plenty of websites that empower designer to share their portfolio, and there are sites like Kickstarter that will let you fundraise to make good ideas reality. There are even micro on-demand manufacturers for furniture like Made in the UK, but Groopti is the only source available that partners with designers to “share their ideas, build their personal brand, increase visibility, and get their designs made.”
Check back next week to see more extraordinary cardboard furniture unveiled next week from Groopti!