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

San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016
15 icff 5
From Corian furniture to immersive installations, here are some of our favorite designs we saw at the 2016 shows.
May 24, 2016
gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in unison.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016
forest for the trees english prefab mobile home facade chesnut cladding
On the edge of a historic park in an English shire, a prefabricated home sets a new design standard.
May 23, 2016
tread lightly australia
A family home on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula is built to blend in with its lakeside setting.
May 23, 2016
jardins party dining room hay chairs local wood floor
A pair of architects help a client carve out an oasis of calm amid São Paulo’s bustle.
May 23, 2016
hwm6zf 1
No matter where you're located or what time of the year it is, having a fireplace in your home is a treasure that’s continuously sought after. Besides the obvious benefits of keeping a fire going through the cold winter months, it can also be a cherished asset that provides an extra level of year-round comfort—not to mention how it can help define the layout of a space by acting as a sculptural element.
May 23, 2016
An office Crosby Studios designed for NGRS in Moscow
Crosby Studios just cares about the essentials.
May 22, 2016
cold sweat seattle floating sauna gocstudio
A cadre of designers let off steam after hours by building and sailing a seaworthy sauna.
May 22, 2016
in the swim off the grid campsite healdsburg california swimming pool solar heat lap pool ipe deck loll designs lounge chairs
An off-the-grid house that is little more than a decked campsite—albeit with a roof—includes a swimming pool for a family that loves to enjoy the elements.
May 21, 2016
A print by Kristina Krogh
From flat to physical, Kristina Krogh masters every dimension.
May 21, 2016
scifi
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 21, 2016
beverly hills living room piano view
Architect Noah Walker, principal of Los Angeles–based studio Walker Workshop, shares completed and work-in-progress residential designs on his Instagram page (@noah_walker). Take a peek at some of the striking modern houses here, and tour the Venice House on the Dwell Home Tours on June 26.
May 20, 2016
ripple effect san fancisco small space yard outdoor monica viarengo pebble mosiac artificial turf slide
A San Francisco landscape designer finds a small-space solution that’s anything but narrow-minded.
May 20, 2016
Oslo living room with light wood floors and wood slab table
A pair of designers in Oslo, armed with tricks for introducing color and daylight, remake their compact late-19th-century apartment.
May 20, 2016
family affair backyard addition portrait
In coastal Massachusetts, a resourceful couple and their equally enterprising children use reclaimed materials to create a versatile 168-square-foot backyard building.
May 20, 2016
speed machine australian beachside prefab archiblox facade colorbond ultra steel cladding queensland blue gum wood
With little time to waste, an Australian firm erects an efficient prefab overlooking the ocean.
May 20, 2016
Christian Benimana at Design Indaba
When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.
May 19, 2016
01 1
This Italian villa is serenity incarnate.
May 19, 2016
michael cobb interior
Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
May 18, 2016
13266797 1799532953608317 1984666518 n 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 18, 2016
Industrial kitchen built on a budget.
In Austin, Texas, architect Sean Guess forges an inventive industrial kitchen for a cost-conscious couple.
May 18, 2016
great danes dining area
In an up-and-coming area of Copenhagen, a pair of designers and their twin girls inhabit a converted loft, filling it with serious design savvy and a hefty dose of creativity.
May 18, 2016
25687 preview low 1633 2 25687 sc v2com
An 1885 house in Montreal dips a little into its backyard for spare space.
May 17, 2016
modern ecoconscious pavilion walkway roof
A couple’s retirement home on a nature preserve in Carmel, California, emerges as a series of eco-conscious pavilions that rest lightly on the land.
May 17, 2016
Formafantasma's designs for Alcantara's Touching Tales
In a 17-century palazzo, two young design studios explore a very modern material.
May 17, 2016