Detroit-based design and manufacturing studio Thing Thing had two simple rules when deciding on a name: They couldn’t use the word ‘atelier’ nor any acronyms that felt pretentious. A friend liked Thing Thing – and they do, after all, make things – so it stuck. Applying a similar kind of no-frills simplicity to their work, the studio creates streamlined processes to easily work with materials and methods usually reserved for industrial production.
Made up of Simon Anton, Eiji Jimbo, Rachel Mulder, and Thom Moran – all of whom come from an architectural and urban planning background – Thing Thing makes and modifies tools like plastic extruders, injection molders, and more. By doing so, they are able to experiment with materials typically unavailable to designers, lending materials like plastic an enormous and uncommon degree of versatility and workability.
Take the studio’s Pillow Lamps for example. The result of lengthy experimentations with an industrial process called ‘rotational moulding’, the designers at Thing Thing managed to replicate the traditional technique with their own DIY version. Utilising mainly post-consumer, hand-recycled high-density polyethylene plastic collected from around Detroit, their products are highly sustainable, and sorting and processing these plastics manually provides them with a vast colour palette.
Each of the Pillow Lamps features a unique pattern of wrinkles and creases, a kickstand made from copper piping reclaimed from a local scrapyard, and is hand polished to achieve its bright sheen. Thing Thing has also ascribed a greater level of function to what would otherwise be just a marginally useful plastic throw pillow by turning it into a source of electrical light.
Less interested in the problems that design can solve, Anton, Jimbo, Mulder and Moran are more invested in the power of design and production to pose important questions. Seizing the means of production and adapting it to suit their own needs, Thing Thing also organises workshops and design performances where they incorporate audiences into the act of making.
To learn more, visit their website here.