Ian Murchison is an industrial designer and the co-founder of The Federal Inc.
The Federal Inc. is split into two parts: on the one side your have a traditional client consultancy and on the other they have their own brand of products.
According to Murchinson this allows them to explore different ideas, materials and forms free from a project brief or client demands.
This free exploration has led to one of their most exciting products, Maple Set, that was earned The Federal Inc. the ‘Best of the Best’ Red Dot Award: Design Concept in 2013 title.
"What we tried to figure out was what people thought about when they use their knives and they think about the function,” he explains. “So we distilled the function down to the small blade portion of the knife and pared it with a nice contrasting Maple hardwood. What the product does is really challenge people to rethink the way they perceive these kinds of product.”
Another of their projects evolved out of a material exploration. "We started out with the idea of wanting to use rubber," he says. "We didn’t know what kind of rubber or how we were going to use it. But we looked for industries and applications where the use of rubber didn’t exist and we tried to figure out why the rubber wasn’t used in those industries."
The result is a design for a bike rack. They found that rubber could not only do what current bike racks were doing but by using rubber they could add a layer of safety since rubber doesn’t scratch your bike as well as an element of fun since the material is more flexible. It also allowed for more customisation.
According to Murchinson he is interested in seeing how the duality of their business evolves over time and whether one side will become more dominant. For now he relishes the ability to have one foot on each side.
His advice to other young designers?
"Allow yourself to try anything. Try not to pigeonhole yourself into a certain type of product because your design capabilities can be spread out across so many products categories – just reach out and try new things," he concludes.
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