Style Files

May 07, 2021

Angled Edges & Innovative Design

When you hear “innovative design”, what comes to mind?

When you hear “innovative design”, what comes to mind? Is it the marriage of good form and better function? Or is it solely determined by the beauty and aesthetic appeal? Are you a believer in a “secret sauce” for design greatness?

We decided to chat with Tandem Arbor staff to get their take on this topic. Here’s what we pulled out of our discussions with our design experts...

What is Innovative Design?

In summary, Tandem Arbor thinks innovation is about creating the future. It’s about solving problems and avoiding the norm or superficial. Innovation is rarely a concerted effort. Instead, it happens organically to solve problems in the best way innovators and designers know how to. In some cases, this means staying within the bounds of what already exists, but in other cases, it also refers to pushing the limits of a medium and trending a new path. As designers in the custom furniture and interior space, we thoroughly enjoy the latter, but only when necessary of course.

If we step away from the thoughts of Tandem Arbor experts, we find that some may say innovative design is when striking elegance meets simplicity and ease of use. This way, when the design is truly perfect, you’ll be wondering how you once ever lived without it. We'll paraphrase Hemingway’s maxim for writers that also rings true for design: “Cut out the ornamentation and design as straight as you can."

Accompanied by many of the trade secrets to design, there are common rules when reaching for truly innovative design. For one, it should never incorporate anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. The purpose of designing with innovation in mind is to incorporate existing elements or ideas, bringing them into a new platform with improvements that are just enough to notice.

Tandem Arbor has a factory partnership in North Carolina in which all products are hand-built with locally sourced materials. These materials include hardwood, seating cushions, crafted wooden feet, and many other construction components. Depending on the piece of furniture, it can take teams of dozens of people, and numerous local supplier companies, to manufacture our products domestically and at the volume we require.

Good design is innovative. The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
- Dieter Rams

As with all design, innovation comes from the challenge of assumptions. By questioning the origin and usefulness of the design patterns we use, we create opportunities to push the limits when appropriate and stick within the parameters of what already exists when it’s truly the better option.

Distinct Character in Innovative Design

What we look for isn’t always pretty, at least not at first.

Distinctive character in design keeps your eyes on edge by moving beyond the standard right angle. It’s about embracing those obtuse and acute angles/alternatives and the power they possess. In this, you’re striving for “groundbreaking”, but doing this is a difficult task. There are no set criteria for this, however, there are certainly a few standards that we question and consider important:

  • First: Is the design timeless?
  • Second: Does the design demonstrate new thinking and/or solve a problem in a new way?
  • Third: Does it sit outside of current trends?
  • Fourth: Does it have a broader impact and application beyond the specific instance of the design? (i.e., can the innovative solution be applied to other design challenges?)
  • Lastly: Does the design affect behavior in a meaningful way?

Classic Lines in Innovative Design

There’s nothing like sharp, drastic lines and unexpected angles to attract attention.

Innovative design is new and different. It has the potential to introduce aesthetics that have yet to be seen - with such attraction that produces a surge of adrenaline as it catches your attention. Beyond that, the product must be meaningful or else innovation doesn’t matter.

There are many new and inventive design-driven products that introduce functionality with classic lines. It’s when that functionality is driven by people and connects to human needs that innovation occurs as a culture - it’s the “ah-ha” moment that we all know and love. The act of applying the rules that worked for us in the past (classic lines) into our present and future allows us to find the definition and act of innovation while doing so.

As you can see, innovative design can mean many different things and look many different ways. One consensus rings true though, whether you’re talking to Tandem Arbor designers or innovators everywhere: innovation comes from making an already existing idea/product better and pushing the envelope.

At the end of the day, we are all designers and innovators in our own way as innovation is continuous improvement and growth. Here at Tandem Arbor, we are proud to be furniture innovators creating innovative, groundbreaking designs. Our Charlton collection is the perfect example of marrying classic lines and distinct character for an end product that is truly innovative.

Would you like to get started on your custom, made in the USA piece from Tandem Arbor? Contact one of our furniture specialists today!

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