Black+Blum design household items that you want to use again and again. This British design team has been working together for 12 years to create some of the more interesting and well thought-out household products on the market.
Their work is sustainable and environmental because it is about long term use. They are designing functional products that will last and last, instead of being replaced every year. Their litmus test is simple: "Would we want to use it and not be fed up with it after three days?"Since they are both designers and sellers of their own work, they have a unique feel for the market and what works. The products are made in the UK, Taiwan, and China. They are sold in the UK as well as in the USA, at places including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
This TreeHugger had the pleasure of meeting up with Martin Blum and Dan Black at their compact offices in London's South Bank. The pair met at the University of Northumbria where they were both studying industrial design and decided to work together because they both wanted to design "products for the right reason." Starting out in their uncle's backyard, their first creations were lights and they moved on from there. Next they developed into a design consultancy and now have their own range of products.
It's a small office but they say that they are lucky to have the freedom to choose the kind of work that they want to do and the flexibility to branch out and not be pigeon-holed.
Blum's wife is Japanese and she has influenced their thinking. For example the Box Appetit is a lunch container with a difference. Carefully conceived, there are small areas in the container for different kinds of food and sauces, lids to keep it warm, a separate inner dish that can be micro-waved and it's made of smooth, nice plastic. There is a clip on top to secure the fork or chopsticks. It comes with a carrier bag that is held together with velcro, and opens out to serve as a place mat or table cover and is even lined in checkered, washable material.
James is a door stop that looks great, makes you laugh and actually works. It was such a hit that they turned it into a bookend too. The stainless steel plate that is fixed to his foot means lots of books can lean against his arm without the book end slipping over.
A perfect example of the care and attention that goes into their work is the Spudski. This potato masher sits on the counter and looks almost like an old fashioned ski pole, complete with the hand strap. But the handle is ergonomic and easy to grip either from the side or above. More importantly, great care has been taken with the mashing plate.
After testing every masher they could find, they saw that the potato gets stuck when the holes are vertical. The angular shape in their design makes the potatoes come pushing through on an angle so they mash faster and don't have to be cleaned away with a knife.
Packaging is important to them. Always made out of natural coloured cardboard, it is ingeniously designed to have as little waste as possible. This packaging is clever: the cardboard piece that holds it in place in the box serves as a stand in the shop and has a recipe on it. It's also completely recyclable.
There's a new and exciting Black+Blum product coming in January...watch for it here.