New York-based BOWER, founded in 2013 by Danny Giannella and Tammer Hijazi, has steadily been making a name for themselves in the design world via their products, lighting, and furniture. Their contemporary designs feature geometric shapes and playful twists that result in unexpected products, some of which can be purchased at WorkOf, Areaware, and their own site. They’re also the clever people behind Design Milk’s Milk Stand at this year’s ICFF where they created a giant milk carton for us! For this month’s Where I Work, the duo gives us an inside look into their Brooklyn studio to see where it all happens.
What is your typical work style?
We have a theoretical structure that we weave in and out of, but (too) often get distracted and taken off course by something that sparks our interest. It’s a constant back and forth, but we give our distractions enough time and attention in case they lead to the next “big thing”. The times we are most organized and structured with our days end up having the least creative output. It’s all about finding a healthy balance.
What’s your studio/work environment like?
Our studio consists of a wood shop, office, and a lounge/showroom. We’re pretty good about keeping things clean and organized (Jeffrey cleans up after us). We always have music playing in the shop and in the office. We keep it real casual and like feeling at home while we work…especially because we pretty much live here anyways. We also have rooftop access so we often eat lunch outside when it’s nice out.
How is your office organized/arranged?
We’ve been shifting and playing with different arrangements to see what feels best. Right now Tammer and I work beside each other and share an inspiration wall in front of us. Jeffrey sits on the other side of the office with a wall of (printed out) orders in front of him. The back wall between our two sides has a two-month calendar on it. It’s pretty great, you can spin in your chair from one spot and see inspirational images and rough half-baked concept sketches, orders that need to be fulfilled, and the next two months of activities… all in one chair spin. We also have a corner workstation for CAD drawing and rendering, and a communal table in the middle of the office for meetings and group work.
How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?
We’ve been in this space for almost two years. We currently share a 5,000 square foot space with a fellow designer/furniture maker. Before we moved here, we had a 120 square foot corner within a cabinet shop. Our space was behind a table saw, and since it was also our office, we’d often have to blow off dust that would settle on our laptops. It was crazy. The lack of space was the reason we started off designing and making small products… that’s all we could fit in there. We also only had space to work on one thing at a time, which made things pretty inefficient. Once we moved and scaled up our space, we quickly scaled up our work and increased our efficiency.
If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?
A swimming pool would be pretty sweet.
A/C in the wood shop wouldn’t hurt either.
(We’re pretty happy with our space :)
Is there an office pet?
We had a few shop dogs in the old space owned by the fellas we shared the space with. In the new space we had Cosmo for a little while—Tammer’s old (16 years old!) deaf, blind, diabetic, stinky, best-guy-ever min-pin. We had a hamster for a few months that Tammer had a strange little bond with… he re-named him “Nutter”.
Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?
Yes, always. Even when we’re on calls.
We have a pretty broad range of favs. We listen to anything from Arabic to Brazilian, De La Soul to Flying Lotus, Nina Simone to the Rolling Stones. We even listen to nature sounds from time to time :)
How do you record ideas?
We used to use sketchbooks, but you can only look at one page at a time. So now we pull 8.5” x 11” paper from our printer to sketch out ideas. This allows us to lay out a lot of drawings together, move them around, group them, etc. The strongest ideas end up on the wall so they can marinate in the backs of our minds for a little while before we revisit them with fresh eyes and move to the next stage of development.
Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?
We do. There’s a mixture of inspiration images and new design concepts. (Because it’s mostly work that’s unreleased, we’d rather not share a photo… sorry :)
What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?
Tammer and I usually share ideas that excite us in any way as quickly as possible. We’ve found that the half-baked ideas end up with more interesting results in less time when we work them out together… rather than fully working out ideas individually and presenting them to each other. There is a great synergy to our collaborative process that can’t be created any other way.
What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space?
We have so much random stuff. Some objects are made by friends, some are found or super random but have something about them that intrigues or amuses us. There are also a bunch of models and prototypes that haven’t made it out in the world yet. Maybe some day we’ll come back to them.
Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?
Yes, we have a lot of wood tools and machines here. Any other machines we may need like a CNC router can be found either in another shop in the building or at another shop nearby.
What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?
Our lathe is pretty fun. It all depends on what we’re designing and prototyping.
Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.
One of the computers in the office is loaded with software for technical drawings, creating files for CNC cutting, water jetting, and 3D rendering. Everything else is pretty standard.
What design software do you use, if any, and for what?
Sketchup, AutoCAD, Rhino, and SolidWorks for drawing. KeyShot and 3DS Max for 3D rendering.
Is there a favorite project you’ve worked on?
The hall of Arch Mirrors we recently made at Sight Unseen Offsite was pretty fun. It was amazing to take a product that usually stands on it’s own and create an experiential world out of many of them. The hall of mirrors exploited the optical effect of the mirror in an immersive interactive installation that elevated the mirror from being a product to an experience. That installation has inspired us to come up with more experiential projects in the future.
Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?
I feel we’ve “made it” in our general day-to-day lives. We have the freedom to do whatever we’re passionate about at the moment, share our creations with the world, and support ourselves doing so. In terms of achievements, we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but hardly pause to celebrate (we have to work on that). We’re always on to the next thing. Deciding when it is that you’ve “made it” in these terms is like creating a ceiling for yourself. We view our accomplishments as milestones on an endless path of growth, and we’re always excited to see how our story evolves over time.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
We’re designing a collection in collaboration with a large retailer (we’ll be announcing more details in a few months). It’s been an opportunity to design pieces that we wouldn’t have the resources to produce on our own, opening up a world of possibilities that we normally don’t consider. As with most of our designs, this collection explores how simple forms and geometric shapes can come together and interact by nesting, connecting, intersecting, and overlapping in simple, beautiful ways.
What’s on your desk right now?
To-do lists, random objects, laptop, paper and pens for sketching, and a Tipsy Writer.
Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?
I have prototypes of the Writer’s Block and Stickup Sticks magnets, Teepee Mirror, and a Tribar Mirror with a crack in it :) I also have some cut-offs of our mirror pieces. They’re squares with the shapes cut out, so all that’s left is a mirror of the negative space of the shapes.
Tammer has a black Pickup Stool, a coffee table, dining table, Ring Mirror, and custom furniture he made specifically for his apartment.
Photos by Melissa Walbridge.