Daniel Black of black+blum
I interviewed Martin Blum at Maison-Objet in September for Three Layer Cake, so I thought it would be good to also pick up Dan's perspectives on his design experience for the Guest Blog. Dan and Martin founded the London-based black+blum design consultancy in 1998. They started out small and have grown their consultancy into a great model of success for taking products to worldwide distribution.
I like the ironic names given to the little characters they create in many of their projects, like James the Doorman, a little man who performs the Sisyphean task of holding your door open (pictured below), or his twin, James the Bookend, who holds your books up in the same way. Their newest designs, Loop candleholder and Venti fan (both also pictured below) make a small break from the usual 'design buddy', yet manage to keep the signature sleek and straight-forward black+blum look. I think their entire catalogue is perfect for gift giving year-round, but especially at Christmas when you want to give a useful, stylish and moderately priced gift.
Dan (right) doesn't like this picture because he thinks it makes him look mean, but don't be fooled by his serious look. Both he and Martin (left) are two of the nicest people out there.
Sketch something you remember from your childhood.
A red Massey Ferguson tractor!
If you could do it all over again, the one thing you wouldn't change.
From our range, it would be the Climbing Light. About as minimal as it gets with x1 screw, x1 wire frame and x1 electrical cord set. A fun, but functional design that continues is still popular design.
The best business advice you've been given.
Assumption is the mother of all f**k ups…not an original quote, but one that is regularly used for good reason. Although we design the products in our range, we have different manufacturers make them. Some are very good, but you can never assume they will get everything right. It is always best to check on every detail however small or trivial it seems to ensure that the quality remains high.
As a mentor, the most important concept you'd want a mentee to take away from your relationship. Passion for design. There is nothing more important. As a mentor, you should be able to inspire this.
In a design studio, money invested in _____ is always well spent.
CAKE. We always buy a big cake for anyone in the office on his/her birthday.
From their portfolio...
Loop Candelabra (four Loop candleholders intertwined are pictured below)
Flow wine rack
Flik 'switchblade' cork screw and bottle opener
James the Doorman
Venti fan (remote controlled, wall mountable)