Been a bit heavy on the photography posts lately, most likely as I’ve been busy and have only had time for taking pictures and not for building things.
Last spring while wandering the streets of London, UK, I stumbled across the greatest store in the world (IMO). It’s a little furniture shop off of Brick Lane called Unto This Last. While the designs are amazing, it’s more the principle behind the shop that really got to me. The shop is named after a John Ruskin essay from 1860 which among other things suggests that manufacturing should be kept local. The store not only manufactures all it’s pieces on site, but they are made to order, so they don’t have vast amounts of stock sitting around. This saves them from renting warehouse space, and ensures they don’t end up with extra furniture that can’t be sold.
All of the pieces are made out of plywood, and are cut out of large sheets using a CNC machine. These machines are basically a computer controlled router which not only allows for precise cuts, but also enables the store to plan out their cuts on the computer beforehand, ensuring little to no waste of wood. The furniture is sold un-assembled (flat pack), however they will build it for you if required. They are also able to do some customization to the pieces, such as lengthening a table, raising the height of a stool, etc.
What excites me about this store, is that they could have a store such as thing one in communities all over the world, and designs could be downloaded by individuals just like we purchase movies or songs off the internet. You go to your local shop, browse the online catalog till you find the piece you like, you pay for the design and fabrication, and in 3-5 days, you pick up your finished furniture. Just imagine, you could find a really nice design by a Danish furniture maker, but instead of having that piece of furniture shipped across the world, you could have it made at the end of your street.