Jasper Eales doesn’t like to limit himself to a design title. “I’m a creative thinker”, he explains, “with resources to access different creative disciplines and industries”.
This multidisciplinary approach to design is evident in the fact that Eales’ product and furniture designs are all underpinned by a firm entrepreneurial foundation.
“I’ve always thought like an entrepreneur, wanting to do my own thing,” he emphasises.
Having recently graduated with a degree in industrial design from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Eales’ label – Jasper Eales Original – captured the interest of many design enthusiasts.
Eales started in his garage at home in Cape Town, but soon the interest in his work demanded a bigger workspace. Particularly after he participated in the Emerging Creatives programme at Design Indaba Expo 2013, he says.
His studio is currently a collaborative space that he shares with a couple other creatives in Paarden Eiland.
Functionality is one of the most vital features Eales brings to the products and furniture he designs. Together with functionality, Eales says his design style is based on useability and multi-functionality. “It’s about starting with the problem and then working out a functional solution.” Only once the function functions does Eales start to refine his designs to something that looks really simple.
“To me the things that look simple and work well are the best things”, Eales says, citing his laptop stand. The laptop stand is a flat-packable, mobile solution that solves a particular problem – one of ergonomics, as well as the issue of the computer heating up too much when placed flat on a surface.
Simple to use and assemble, Eales’s laptop stand consists of just three parts that slot together to create a highly functional object and is a great space saver.
Storage solutions are something that Eales is particularly interested in. “With more and more people, there’s less and less space so there’s this constant need for space-saving and storage solutions,” he believes.
An example of a storage solution in Eales’ portfolio is his outdoor bench system with built-in storage space for the bench cushions and other outdoor accessories. The bench also comes with side tables that simply fold-up when they are needed. Eales likes the idea of things being a feature on their own, even when they’re not being used.
Materials considerations are an important part of the Jasper Eales Originals ethos. “I love the outdoors, it is a very powerful place for me,” he says. As such, it is important to him to use natural materials and to consider what is ethically correct and sustainable as far as possible. “It may be in the form of the materials or the process, but there is always the consideration for the environment, which has hugely to do with my passion for the outdoors.”
While ethical materials are often more expensive, Eales is not prepared to compromise. “I don’t like to cut corners by using cheaper materials to create cheaper products,” he says. But he also acknowledges the challenge in designing and manufacturing original designs of a high quality at accessible price points.
Another challenge for Eales is trying to do too much. He explains that because the company is still quite small, he tends to be involved in every aspect of the business, from the design to the prototyping to the manufacturing and marketing. As finances allows, Eales hopes to start outsourcing certain aspects to allow himself more time to be involved in the design and the management thereof.
Eales also plans to develop his own range of products, as opposed to commissioned pieces, that reflect his way of thinking. For now it’s about finding the balance: “The more bread and butter products I do the more it allows me to do self-initiated projects,” he muses.