written by:
August 31, 2010

Cleveland is no New York or Milan, so it may not seem to be the most ideal city in which to launch a design studio. But Objeti, Joseph Ribic's design/manufacturing firm based in Ohio, is proving modern designers can flourish in America's heartland. Objeti's designs—stools, lighting, and tables—won accolades at this year's ICFF. Ribic recently chatted about his inspiration, what it's like working with his brother and father, and the challenges of being an upstart furniture manufacturer. Here he takes Dwell through some images of his shop, and gives us an insider's look at the processes used to create Objeti's pieces.

"A partial view into the shop. Work moves between the computers and machines freely," says Ribic.
"A partial view into the shop. Work moves between the computers and machines freely," says Ribic.
1 / 10
Some of the parts are machined on the CNC’s while others, like this, are machined on the manual lathe and mill.
Some of the parts are machined on the CNC’s while others, like this, are machined on the manual lathe and mill.
2 / 10
"My favorite piece is the Twiggy lamp," says Ribic. "We just added a touch dimmer to allow for bedside use.
"My favorite piece is the Twiggy lamp," says Ribic. "We just added a touch dimmer to allow for bedside use.
3 / 10
The Soft Tools felt lamps are all hand-pressed from naturally dyed wool. The shapes are derived from the cutting tools used in the shop.
The Soft Tools felt lamps are all hand-pressed from naturally dyed wool. The shapes are derived from the cutting tools used in the shop.
4 / 10
"Our first design, the Aerialist tables. Here you can see the simple rotating functionality which reveals the upholstered cushion."
"Our first design, the Aerialist tables. Here you can see the simple rotating functionality which reveals the upholstered cushion."
Courtesy of 
Hanson Photographic � 2009
5 / 10
"We source our wood from a local mill that uses salvaged trees from the Cleveland area," says Ribic.
"We source our wood from a local mill that uses salvaged trees from the Cleveland area," says Ribic.
6 / 10
"My father, John Ribic Sr., cuts the slots for the legs of the stool."
"My father, John Ribic Sr., cuts the slots for the legs of the stool."
7 / 10
There are two stool heights available, both featuring a different cross bar variation. This is the 20” version.
There are two stool heights available, both featuring a different cross bar variation. This is the 20” version.
8 / 10
"This is the 25” version, which is being used by a friend who is a glass artisan and will be working with us on a new project," says Ribic.
"This is the 25” version, which is being used by a friend who is a glass artisan and will be working with us on a new project," says Ribic.
9 / 10
Ribic sets the scene for a photo shoot for Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper.  Also featured in the shot is Objeti's LED Hangman lamp.
Ribic sets the scene for a photo shoot for Cleveland’s Plain Dealer newspaper.  Also featured in the shot is Objeti's LED Hangman lamp.
10 / 10
"A partial view into the shop. Work moves between the computers and machines freely," says Ribic.
"A partial view into the shop. Work moves between the computers and machines freely," says Ribic.

Check out the slideshow to read more.

What's your background?
I graduated with a degree in Architecture from The Ohio State University in 2001.  In 2003 I went on to study Industrial Design in Italy for a year. I worked in an architecture firm after returning, though, I kept on working on furniture designs. In 2009 I left my position in Los Angeles, moved back to Cleveland and began to design and build the products I took to ICFF.
Does being based in Cleveland provide you with an advantage or disadvantage within the design industry?
My family owns a machine shop here - giving me access to amazing production and prototyping capabilities. This, in conjunction with the fact that Cleveland has a lot of manufacturing, allows me to work locally to accomplish all of my production needs.
How was Objeti formed?
When I turned 30 I decided it was time to fulfill my dream and turn my designs into reality. I got into the shop and quickly realized I would have to design new pieces which would utilize the manufacturing processes I had available to me. I had been thinking about a name, and while I started making the new products I kept with this theme of investigation through interaction.  This lead me to Objeti, the Slovenian word for embrace, which resembles the word object and reflects my Slovenian heritage.
Speaking of heritage, what's it like working with your father and brother?
It's been a really great experience and without them I would not be where I am now. My father plays an important role helping me turn ideas into real, functional objects. We work closely together in the prototyping stage, taking my initial drawings and editing them in real-time to create our finished products. He is not only a machinist but an inventor, which is sometimes what I feel like when we are coming up with design solutions. My brother helped me get started - teaching me a lot about business and the production process.  He came to help me at the ICFF, even though we had no idea how people would react to our work. Both my brother and father have been extremely supportive, having faith in my ideas.
What was the first piece in the collection you designed?
The first pieces were the Aerialist Tables - which took about 5 months from prototyping to production and were a great introduction for me on the many tools I had available.
The Aerialist tables are multipurpose, as they go from table to seating instantly. What made you decide to combine seating with a table?
I have always been interested in multi-use objects. I came up with this concept a few years ago while living in my apartment in LA. It was obvious to me that the coffee table had a lot more potential than just a static surface. I explored many options which would enable this surface to transform into seating/ottoman and settled on the design which would allow the user to easily and quickly convert it without having to pick up or move any pieces.
You won an Editor Award at ICFF. Has that distinction helped your business?
Yes, before we had left the convention center we had our first retailer, The Future Perfect.  Since then we have been getting great press and building new relationships with retailers and galleries across the US.
Besides The Future Perfect, where can your line be purchased?
All lamps are available at The Future Perfect. Soon, we will be featured at Specific in LA, Matthew Izzo in Philadelphia, and a new store in Columbus called Grid Furnishings. Our website, objeti.com, will sell direct while we expand our retailers.
There is something very simple, yet undeniably playful in Objeti's objects. Is this humor intentional?
Yes, though I think of it more as a fun exploration of the objects. I want people to approach each piece and put their hands on them, investigate a bit, start a conversation about them, and simply enjoy the functionality or materiality. 
I see a kinship with Blu Dot, another American design house. What designers and manufacturers do you admire?
There are a lot - I am inspired everyday. My earliest inspirations were Eames’ and Pierre Paulin for their ability to create iconic forms. Jean Prouve for his aesthetic combination of industrial design and engineering. Now I look to companies like Moooi which, to me, represents furniture as intelligent, functional, theory based objects.
What are the challenges to launching a furniture brand?
The most challenging aspect is repetition. Being a new company, I do not have a large budget for advertising and I believe a big part of sales comes from recognizing a company, seeing it multiple times in multiple locations. I have been very fortunate to win the Editor's Award which is bringing me great press and acknowledgment. All in all, I love the challenges of growing Objeti as a brand and look forward to what the future brings!

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016