OTHR

USEFUL / AESTHETIC / UNIQUE

MEET FORT STANDARD

It’s a warm afternoon in April, and Gregory Buntain and Ian Collings have their attention fixed on a geometric object resting on their desk.

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Founded by Gregory Buntain and Ian Collings. Focused on designing high quality home goods and furniture.

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Ico Bottle Opener Ico Bottle Opener - Limited Edition

CREDITS

Written by Alexis Cheung
Photographs by Fran Parente
In collaboration with Freunde von Freunden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we have an idea, we have to explain to the other person why we think it's a valid idea. That's often an advantage because it sparks different ideas in the other person's head, and we each bring in our own insights and inspirations."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has twenty facets, all composed of all equilateral triangles. So even though it’s very thin, it’s extremely structural and very strong.

 

It’s multifaceted, made of bronze and has the appearance of an attractive tchotchke—but it isn’t. In fact, they explain, it’s a bottle opener.

As the designers behind Fort Standard—a multidisciplinary design studio known for its warm, contemporary aesthetic— this proves consistent. Since 2011, the pair, friends from their days as students at Pratt, have masterminded welcoming store build-outs for brands like Warby Parker, Fjällräven, and Harry’s Corner Shop; all the while, their trivets, candle holders and versatile range of furniture have found success internationally.

In their small, sunlit office in once-isolated Red Hook, Brooklyn, the pair ruminate on work, friendship and the relishing freedom to explore—both literally and in looser terms. “Our approach to design,” Greg explains, as he strolls the neighborhood’s quiet streets, “is an ongoing conversation. Our dialogue is something that’s constantly evolving.”

 

Where did the name Fort Standard come from?

Greg: It was essentially a blank canvas that we could then define with our work. It had absolutely no meaning and sounded really strange to us at first, but as we produced more and more work together, it slowly developed into something that we and other people could recognize as a collaborative visual language.

Ian: There are personal leads like geography—we went to school in Fort Greene—and we were interested in designing things in an authentic way and letting the honesty of the function and materials be somewhat the standard. That collection of words represented what we wanted to do and proved to be a good platform to explore design.

Do you divide and conquer when it comes to running your business?

Greg: Basically, but we don’t have roles. We design everything together and it’s a very organic process as far as who takes lead on any given project.

Ian: We’re both two very interchangeable humans at this point. That works to our advantage, and it works against us sometimes in that we’re good at the same things and want to do the same things. What’s fun about building your own business is that you have the ability to build a team that fills in all of your weaknesses to some extent.

 

What are some of the pros and cons about working with a close friend?

Greg: We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and about communication. If we’re not communicating, that’s when we get in trouble. It’s like the way that we design together: if we have an idea, we have to explain to the other person why we think it’s a valid idea. That’s often an advantage because it sparks different ideas in the other person’s head, and we each bring in our own insights and inspirations.

You mentioned in a past interview that you wanted to design your business according to the way you want to live your lives. What did you mean by that?

Greg: Work less, travel more. It’s trying to achieve the correct balance between work and play that’s rewarding and gratifying but also stimulating and inspiring. Part of the reason we haven’t defined our roles any further is because this organic management of projects allows us to work together on everything and allows us the freedom to travel.

Where do you like to travel? Why?

Greg: Anywhere and everywhere, basically.

Ian: The clarity of distance I think is the most important thing about traveling. We’re young enough to check out something new every time. Recently I’ve been going to Costa Rica a lot more, down south on the Pacific coast.

What else do you enjoy outside of designing and building?

Greg: I personally like to ride motorcycles a lot. Dual-sport motorcycles specifically, so basically legal dirt bikes. The biggest trip I did was a couple of years ago with my brother. We toured New Zealand, camping and fly fishing around.

Ian: The outdoors has always been a huge element of my life. I try to get up and go hiking and get into the woods as often as I can. There are tons of great places near the city, but the further the better: California, Costa Rica, anywhere for contrast. New York City is nice, but you appreciate it even more once you get back to nature.

Why did you choose to work with OTHR?

Greg: Typically, we’re interested in collaborating with small, specialized brands that have access to processes that we don’t have the ability to use in-house. 3D printing lends itself to a unique set of opportunities so you can create a volume that’s super lightweight, very functional and also beautiful as its own independent object.

FORT STANDARD ON THE ICOSAHEDRON

It has twenty facets, all composed of all equilateral triangles. So even though it’s very thin, it’s extremely structural and very strong.

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Can you explain your thinking and the design process behind the bottle opener?

Ian: It’s nice to narrow the infinite possibilities into one direction, so having the 3D printing as a known helped to contain our process in one direction. We considered other table top items but really we wanted something that would allow us to explore 3D printing in a meaningful way and thought the bottle opener was a good candidate.

Greg: We ended up designing an icosahedron bottle opener in bronze. It has twenty facets, all composed of all equilateral triangles. So even though it’s very thin, it’s extremely structural and very strong.

Is it harder to open a bottle than you would think? Easier?

Ian: It’s a more unique experience than your standard bottle opener in that it can live in your environment and not in a drawer. You can have it on your shelf and never know it was a bottle opener, essentially. That’s the beauty of it.

What beer would you choose to pair with it?

Greg: I generally go for German or Chezek pilsners. In the shop we drink a lot of Modelo Especial.

Ian: I’d go with Victoria or Pacifico.  

The big question: Can it open multiple bottles at once?

Greg: We were talking about this at lunch. I think we can open three simultaneously, but we’d be happy to test that.

Ian: We’re easily distracted when there’s alcohol around. [laughs]