Friday Five with Upwell’s Justin Porcano

This week’s Friday Five skews to the tech side, with Justin Porcano. Porcano is the founder of Upwell, a multidisciplinary design studio based in San Francisco with a focus on consumer electronics, furniture, accessories, and housewares (i.e., everything!). He worked for, and with, Pentagram, New Deal Design, Lunar, and Teague before going out on his own two years ago. Porcano is currently in the process of bringing his latest product to market – WallPlate – a family of functional light switch cover plates. The line received amazing feedback in New York at ICFF and in San Francisco at Zinc Details during Look About at San Francisco Design Week.

1. iRiver Spinn
Yep, Apple isn’t the only design-conscious electronics company. I love this product for its simplicity in design and construction. Its focus is on the materials and the interaction. I love seeing analog and tactile interfaces on electronics in an over-saturated touch screen environment; there’s something nice about a more engaging experience. This company, as a whole, creates thoughtful products with good design.

2. Dieter Rams
Less is more. Dieter Rams’ work and his ten commandments about what good design is has been nothing but reassuring to me throughout my career as a designer. His products are the epitome of form follows function; and the beauty that exists within this concept.

3. RO&AD Architects’ The Invisible Bridge
Nature as a medium. There’s nothing better than playing and sculpting with nature; using nature as a creative medium is as fulfilling as it gets for me. I love when projects are so site specific that they wouldn’t work anywhere else; when you’re forced to adapt to your immediate surroundings, and ideally compliment them. I think architecture in general should always do this.

4. Charles & Ray Eames
Pioneering a process. This piece is amazing – it’s an early prototype of their famous leather lounge chair circa 1946. I want this one. There is an inexplicable quality about this chair that just works for me. They mastered the art of bending plywood, specifically on a level of mass production. This is the result of when you let the process and material, guided by talented craftsmen and designers, define the aesthetic.

5. Industrial Facility Lacie Hard-Drive
It is what it is. I’m a huge fan of this company, lead by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin. This product exemplifies two valuable qualities for me:
1. Thoughtful design is applied to the entire product — as a whole — design doesn’t stop on the surfaces we rarely see.
2. This product communicates to me instantly what it does, simply by hinting at what’s inside; its direct, no fuss.

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.