Portrait Series: Makers Cabinet

Makers Cabinet
In this month’s Portrait Series we meet Odin Ardagh and Noah Bier of London design studio Makers Cabinet, discovering the origins of their brand and thoughts on the upcoming collaboration with 886 by The Royal Mint. Interviewed by Dominic Jones, 886 by The Royal Mint’s Creative Director, we delve into their unique design philosophy, drawing inspiration from time tested tools and materials to re-imagine stationery with an heirloom quality and allowing the rediscovery of joy in everyday creativity.

Dominic: Can you give us a bit of a background about yourselves? How did you guys meet? Where did Makers Cabinet come from?

Odin: We both met at Central St. Martins, we're both studying product design together there. The company started in our first year of university. We were sketching a lot as product designers and traditional pencil sharpeners were breaking the ends of our designer pencils. So, initially we designed a better pencil sharpener to combat that issue. But we also wanted to make a product and sell it, versus what we were doing at university, which was just designing and sketching products and maybe doing a render, but not actually making them and putting them into production.

I began by making some early prototypes and used the 3D printers in university. I made up a whole array of different shapes and sizes and found something that worked really well. We then whacked together a Kickstarter campaign, which is where you can take pre-orders for a product before you've actually gone and made it. And as skint university students, that was great because it allowed us to sell a load of product and get the money upfront for our first manufacturing run.

Dominic: Tell us your first thoughts when you received the email to collaborate with 886 by The Royal Mint?

Noah: Yeah, like all online businesses, you get a lot of emails and some of them are spam and some are just unusual and this was one that came and we were like, ‘whatever could this be?’ I'm opportunistic and idealistic and open to things, so if someone sends me an email and says, ‘can you sign an NDA for The Royal Mint and have a chat with us about something?’ I was pretty intrigued.

We were just excited because we had no idea what it could be. And then you explained what the whole project was and what The Royal Mint were doing to diversify their product range and bring themselves into the twenty-first century and setting themselves up for their future. We felt that there was so much richness to this project in itself and that we could get a lot out of it and also offer something back. We were over the moon to start working with you on 886 by The Royal Mint.

Dominic: How have you found the process of working with The Royal Mint?

Odin: I have found it really fun and interesting working with a traditional British manufacturer. It's interesting to see how you have adapted to manufacturing something very different from the coins and it's been fun to see the team tackling the challenges. They are some of the same challenges when we first started manufacturing too.

Noah: We've also never worked with such an enormous organisation, and the way that The Royal Mint is run is at another level too. We’re just men that run a small business that has been going for five years, we run it and we make all the decisions. We're now working with an organisation that has lots of people that have a say on decision-making and things must go through different departments. The Royal Mint is completely above-board and that's been a really great thing for us to learn. We didn't get taught anything about that at the university.

Dominic: Who are your favourite British product designers?

Odin: For me, it's Jony Ive. He was Apple's Head of Design for a very long time, and I think he's done amazing things and has pushed manufacturing of consumer electronics away from big, beige plastic boxes, towards CNC machined aluminium for products, which both look beautiful and perform flawlessly. And I think he has a keen understanding of manufacturing and what is inside the product and how it works.

Noah: My favourite British designer is Ron Arad. I just really like the things he makes. He’s a post-modern designer, he makes very beautiful objects and furniture. He often uses materials in a really interesting way, like he’s made a very cool record player out of concrete which I really like.

Dominic: Thank you so much for talking us through your story. It's been such a fun project and I'm so glad that you have been our partner on the first homeware launch for the brand.

Noah: I speak for both of us when I say that we've really enjoyed working with The Royal Mint, it’s been very exciting for us as a small company to be working with this organisation that has so much history.