It Matters How You Make It
The vast majority of our products are built in house, by our small team. But for some of our products, we work with external partners to bring the ideas to life. The manufacturing takes on a totally different path for our minimalist knife and belt, but each shares this crucial trademark: the unique process allows us to best possible product that couldn’t exist otherwise.
Cutting it Close
When we set out to design a knife, we were intent on making something unique, something that couldn’t exist anywhere else. Our design team focused on a simple, radical knife - and, it turns out, nobody was willing to manufacture it because it would be too hard. The monobody design of the handle is unique, the tolerances are very high, and the raw machined finish means that you can’t hide any imperfections.
In the end, the only way to make it was to work with close, talented vendors willing to work with us to realize our vision - keeping it local allows for precise quality control. The monobody is machined in Oregon City. The blade is ground in Seattle. The blade is hand sharpened in Portland. The whole thing comes together and is assembled at our shop, with quality control between each step. It was the only way we could build the knife we wanted.
Finding the Right Factory
Our minimalist belt is made of two pieces: a leather strap & a stainless steel buckle. With the strap, we focused on high quality, English bridle leather, durable and elegant. The buckle pays homage to the classic conway style buckle, in a modern way. It has a unique form, different than any buckle we’d seen. Because of the unique shape and structure, we had to explore many routes to find the best way to build it. Metal machining was way too expensive, because all the metal inside the form would have been wasted. 3D printing was possible (and really cool), but also way too expensive. The best option was investment casting, but this is a very involved process that would require partnering with a factory.
We looked locally… then regionally… then nationally… crickets. There were almost no functioning investment casting factories in the USA, and the ones we did find weren’t able to deliver the product at the quality we needed. So, we looked overseas in Shenzhen, China, and found a factory that could cast our buckle at the exacting quality we demanded. In order to create the belt we wanted, we had to go farther to find the right expertise and talent—different place, same intent.
"Manufacturing is never a simple, linear path, but that’s part of the fun."
Products Tell Stories
With each product, we ask ourselves: where can we create the best product that stays true to the design, matches our customers’ needs, and hits the quality we demand? It’s not a simple formula, and that’s what makes the challenge and journey of product design so exciting.
Wireless charging is awesome because it’s simple—place your iPhone down and presto! Charging. When we designed the wireless charging pad in 2017, we took that principle and ran it through our design process—we wanted to create a wireless charger that was beautiful, had excellent build quality, and worked.