Beyond Object: Rethinking Non-Digital ‘Deskware’

Beyond Object: Rethinking Non-Digital ‘Deskware’
Courtesy of Beyond Object

“We want to design something unique,” is one of the most popular refrains in the design industry. But when Hanhsi Chen, one of the two designers and co-founders of London-based Beyond Object uses this sentence, his words are backed up by a collection of very distinctive products. This design label has decided to focus on uncommon desktop accessories, especially those which have nothing to do with the digital world.

“We will bring our new desktop collection to iSaloni, a collection we’ve shown previously at some buyer tradeshows,” Chen explained to ArchiExpo e-Magazine. “In Milan, we will try to use our objects to create an interesting installation of our design concept.”

Functional and unique

This collection includes a tape dispenser, a letter opener, a pencil sharpener and a pen pot. They all share a common body language, with a smooth metallic surface polished with hand-crafted care and minimalist shape. The Lino paper-knife exemplifies their philosophy. “We don’t want to just redecorate. In order to create something new, we ask ourselves, What is this object? With the Lino, we reduced a solid knife to a 3-dimensional structure with a comfortable grip. It looks unique and functional.”

Concentrating on non-digital products, such as a letter opener or a pencil sharpener, is not accidental, but has everything to do with Beyond Object’s positioning.

“Tech products are often like fashion, with a short life span,” said Chen. “On the contrary, letter openers or pencil pots do not change often. We want to create something which can last, while innovating in categories which have existed for a long time.”

Funded via Kickstarter

Even though most of their products do not belong to the digital world, Beyond Object does not portray itself as a neo-Luddite brand. The company proudly promotes the close attention it pays to the industrial manufacture of their unique designs.

And, when Beyond Object chose to move into a brand new market with a complex device, they successfully made use of the online crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. “Our Align dislocated twist pen is a completely new product, with a specially-created mechanism from Swatch,” explains Hanhsi Chen.

“If it’s too risky to invest in a project, crowdfunding is a way to ensure a market for the product. In the meantime, we also received a lot of useful feedback on things like the refill system. It was all new to us, as we have no expertise in the writing industry. We modified the Align project based on that, allowing us to release a product answering users’ needs.”

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