A desk, a loveseat, and a shelving system -- all in one single flat pack? I, too, was amazed at the clever level of reconfigurability when I saw these new pieces appear in my inbox. Recently debuting at Ford & Ching's Los Angeles showroom, this fresh line comes from 100xbetter, a design/build studio specializing in CNC machining by Will Rollins and Brendan Sowersby. Eager to learn more, I chatted with Ford & Ching partner Willard Ford about this new level of RTA (ready-to-assemble) design.
What appealed to you most about 100xBetter's pieces? So all the typical run-of-the-mill, ready-to-assemble furniture that everyone sees at West Elm or IKEA are made from cheap disposable material, and you build it once and can never disassemble because you have to screw them together. Conversely, these pieces by 100xBetter use only high end, durable materials (Baltic birch), are cut out of a CNC mill, and you can assemble it and disassemble it however many times you want.So to put the pieces together, all of it really is just press fit?Yes, all of the parts are completely press fit -- except for wall brackets for the shelves, which need to be set into the wall studs. So no need for screws, allen bolts, a jigsaw, or any of that. And when all is disassembled, the pieces lay together in a perfect flat pack. It's pretty impressive.How did you stumble across Will and Brandon?We met them through one of our designers, Andy Riiska, here in LA. Both of them have a degree in studio art - Will from Cooper Union, and Brandon from Cal Arts. They're self-described as 'lazy in the shop,' which attests to their efficiency and the impressive minimum amount of time they can put in for the maximum quality of output. We were really amazed by their craftsmanship -- they've made these beautiful room dividers in thin-ply Baltic birch, and some really great things out of corian - small light screens, and even a CNC bowl.Are you carrying any other pieces that are primarily digitally fabricated? Is that a direction that you think high-end consumers will start to move towards in the future? It's certainly a burgeoning interest of ours, and we hope to keep adding them - but it's not necessarily a primary focus. We do carry other digitally fabricated pieces, such the Cerno collection, a CNC-machined line of chairs and tables.I remember all the new pieces showcased at your Oakland warehouse at the opening last summer, and 100xBetter definitely seems to be adding a lot of momentum for your group of designers. Can you give us any hints of what's next on the horizon for Ford+Ching?Well, we were at ICFF this weekend, and will be officially opening a branch in New York come July. It's where the market is, anyway. Get ready, New York!