With a humble beginning as three chaps working on projects together at University, the boys from award-winning furniture design studio Y.S Collective, are transforming the industry landscape in New Zealand.
With the launch of their sister brand Think & Shift, Daniel Kamp, Sam Griffin and James McNabb are officially adding ‘design contracting’ to their impressive list of achievements since the opening of Y.S Collective in 2012. “The two brands work really well together and it’s not an accident,” Daniel explains. “We designed them to have a kind of symbiotic relationship.”
Y.S Collective acts as the design trio’s creative playground; exploring ideas, testing materials and general experimentalism is all in a proverbial day’s work at Y.S Collective. “We take our learnings from our Y.S work and apply it to our client projects under Think & Shift,” Daniel says, “at the same time, Think & Shift allows us to work with all sorts of amazing people and companies”.
“When we are working on a product for Y.S, we always try to look at it from the perspective of the environment in which it will be used."
Additionally, Y.S Collective now focuses on designing limited edition works as opposed to ongoing production. Daniel explains that the new Y.S pieces will be more unique and experimental than what followers might be used to. “We are hoping that these pieces will start to stir a whole lot of new thinking in the realm of furniture design,” says Daniel.
With three individually accomplished designers behind the wheel, the subsequent tension of ideas, Daniel says, is a big point of difference distinguishing the two brands from others. The trio each play different roles in client projects for Think & Shift. However, they normally work in groups of two with the third acting as the devil’s advocate.“Everything we produce is highly considered,” Daniel explains, “combine this with the way we work across different scales of design and I guess you have a pretty unique offering”.
Daniel says another unique aspect of the trio’s work is the fact that all of their pieces are predominantly produced in various locations across New Zealand. “This isn’t because we’re against off-shore production, just that when we are producing our own designs, we have the opportunity to support local industry.
“It’s great to work directly with makers and manufacturers; meeting them face to face to learn about what they can do, how we can collaborate with them and how we can challenge them."
Quite obviously, having a good ole’ yarn to the actual makers of the pieces is much more achievable when they are located down the road or in the next town, rather than somewhere in Asia. “Local production also adds a lot to the story behind each piece,” Daniel explains. “For a customer to know that part of their piece was 3D printed in Tauranga and part hand-crafted in Auckland allows them to connect with the object in a way offshore production doesn’t.”
Each design brief for Think & Shift will be hugely diverse, and the trio tries not to impose too much of a signature aesthetic. However, Daniel says that James, Sam and himself all share a love of natural materials. “None of us are into tacky, plastic products, so when we need to work with synthetic materials we tend to pair them with natural materials, or at least take a softer approach to the design.”
Taking a holistic approach to designing pieces for Think & Shift clients is central to the design process for Daniel, James and Sam. “When we are working on a product for Y.S, we always try to look at it from the perspective of the environment in which it will be used. When we work on spaces for Think & Shift we like to consider all the little bits that make up an overall spatial experience,” Daniel says.
With such well thought out, rounded pieces, it’s no wonder that the Y.S Collective and Think & Shift design studios are changing the face of furniture design coming out of New Zealand.
“We’re going upward, as fast as we can,” Daniel says.