How to Grow Your Art Into a Business: Move Beyond the One-Off Model
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“We want to make money when we are sleeping.”
Jessica Banks knows what she wants, but running a business where all the products are made by hand has prevented that. At least, until now.
The artist-engineer founder of design firm RockPaperRobot makes “kinetic” furniture, or furniture that moves: Consider a table that caves in a specific region in response to pressure or a chandelier that expands and contracts automatically, depending on the environmental conditions of the room. The chandelier can be set to respond to sound, ambient light, motion, or time of day, depending on the wishes of the particular client.
The designs she creates lie at the intersection of art and technology -- statement pieces intended to be used in daily life. And they’re almost exclusively hand made -- one at a time, piece by piece, hour by hour.
While crafting by hand has produced stunningly gorgeous work, it hasn’t allowed Banks to scale her business beyond the hours that she invests in the studio. That’s why she and her team have decided to develop a table that will be mass manufactured.
The process of packaging and prototyping a piece of furniture that will be mass produced has been enlightening for Banks, who works out of New Lab, a co-working space in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“With a one-off product, when you realize that you need a certain part, you can go into the shop and make it. But with something that is mass produced, you have to design every part and every component so that it can be replicated easily and cheaply and efficiently,” she said.
Watch this video to learn more about her business and how she is preparing her work for larger-scale manufacturing.
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