Our first custom-made project

The highs

It was our second day at our first design fair when we were taken by surprise by this guy that got really excited when he saw our HEXAGON collection.

He made an almost instantaneous connection with the collection. He imagined how the products would fit his project as soon as he saw them. It was obvious that he liked them and he was trying to explain to us what he had in mind.

"I want you to build our reception desk for our new dental institute and clinic that we'll open soon. I'll send you the render. You'll see. I want to place your products on our reception desk."

I was listening and trying to imagine at the same time what did he have in mind when he said: "build our reception desk". He transmitted all his energy and excitement about his project and we soon found ourselves as excited as he was.

The next day, the render showed half of an octagon shaped reception desk with a lush, green canopy of plants on its front. "These people want this canopy replaced with our products. I think we can do it", I resolved.

We hoped to sell a bunch of products at our first design fair. We couldn't imagine getting a project like this so early. And so, the project started.

 

The lows

After a few calls and meetings with our early adopters, Catalin and Rovana, we had a more clear vision of what they were after. The next few days after the design fair were only about their project. 

We just had to make more of the same products and place them on the front of their new dental clinic reception desk. They had been working for a few months already to restore their new place, so they had workers ready to take our products and place them on what would have been the reception desk. We could do that.

After a few days, it was time for us to get back with our feet on the ground and start working on this new project. The first things we realized were the following:

1. We had to make the width of our products smaller otherwise, they could be hit and knocked down by the people leaning over the reception desk.

2. We had to figure out a way to create a cool design on about 6 sqm of blank space with our wood products.

We thought about covering this blank space with a few big pieces of wood, hexagonal or not. They wanted to replace a full canopy of green plants with our products, though. We had to use our products. But they were small... We had to use lots of them, tens of them.

Good, so shrink the width of all the products and use a lot of them. So far, so good.

It wasn't long before we faced another dilemma: how would we place these tens of products so that we could form a composition that both, the owners and us, would like?

It was at this time we learned a little bit more about materials. "Placing the products on the front of the reception desk" meant screwing all the products on fiberboards covered by veneer. This meant we had only one shot at creating the compositions on the reception front. We weren't too happy about that.

But the inspiration struck: "Let's use steel!". We would fit the steel sheets on the fiberboard and then just place the products, backed with some magnetic bands, wherever we wanted on the steel sheets. It was a great idea!

Oh, the beauty and challenges introduced together with this new material...

The magnetic bands were rather easy to find and fit onto the back of the products. The challenge was to find some good looking steel sheets and fit them on the reception front.

I won't go into all the technical challenges that we faced with creating some beautiful steel sheets that would fit our concept. I'll just say that the most difficult parts were finding a quality patina and a skilled team to work the steel.

While we were struggling to find solutions for this challenge, Catalin was realizing that he wouldn't have his metal artist available to work the copper top of the reception desk. ...yeah, we took that part as well.

Now we were in charge of all the products that would go on the front of the reception desk + the steel sheets + the copper top. It soon became obvious that we had to build the whole reception desk. The changes we introduced were big enough that we had to make sure the whole structure was stable and all the components fitted the concept. The time was passing by and Christmas and the inauguration of the institute were getting near. 

 

The plateau

About two months of intense work followed. We took each challenge one by one. There was a lot of head scratching, waiting, searching and testing. But after two months, we were finally seeing all the pieces coming together.

We couldn't believe the day came for the reception desk to be assembled. Part of our awesome team from the factory assembled it on the 24th of December. Yes, one day before Christmas. That day seemed like it lasted 48 hours.

We assembled the reception desk in the first half of the day. Rovana and Catalin were already there with us, bringing dentistry sci-fi technology into their clean-white working rooms.

In the second half of the day, we placed all the plants and all the different hexagons on the front... in the third half, we helped our, now new friends, prepare their new place for the opening party. The place was already so lively. We were back and forth between the reception desk and the new medical technology, between plates of food and bottles of champagne prepared for the opening party. Every hour, more people were coming in. The holiday spirit was gradually taking form.

At the end of the day, we even found some time to admire the piece that two months ago was just an idea. Now it was a real thing, lighting the entry hallway of the new institute. It was the first thing you would have seen from the cold December night if you were passing by.

 

The lesson

The hard work was there. The grinding was there. Change of plans, remakes, waiting, backs and forths, lack of ideas, delays. These normal hurdles of every engaging and new project were in the mix of things. Fortunately, in the mix, there were also skills, professionalism, engagement, and trust.

Catalin and Rovana gave us all their trust. We couldn't have hoped for a better communication and relationship with them throughout the project. And I can't stress enough how important was the dedication and the skills of our team at the factory. We literally couldn't have made it if either part were missing.

I don't know if someone has said this before, but good ideas without good people are dead ideas. I'm convinced it was the good people and relationships that lead to the success of this project.

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