Buddy is a minimal and playful, adjustable table light for the dynamic worker, 3D printed in PLA.
Buddy is a task light 3D printed in corn-based PLA, produced in collaboration with Gantri, a forward thinking platform based in San Francisco which utilises digital manufacturing to create products in strongly sustainable ways. The design stems from a brief to create a functional light that helps the dynamic worker to focus on specific tasks. Its rounded, subtly tapered silhouette gives it a friendly stance and helps the user just like a 'buddy' would, featuring a moving head with dimmable light to focus down on a work surface, or beam up to provide ambient light - making it a space saving choice for an office, living room or more, in today’s increasingly smaller spaces. The pivoting head was a key detail from Mona Sharma. This added to Gantri's portfolio which originally focused on 'static' designs. Due to the nature of 3D printed objects, moving parts can wear out sooner, so many innovative methods were considered to counteract this, to produce a high quality, durable product.
3D Printed, PLA, Digitial Manufacturing, 3D printing, Task Light, Smaller Spaces, Lamp
- Does your design take social and cultural challenges and human wellbeing into consideration?
Buddy Table light is produced in California, by Gantri, who employ local workers. This adds the local economy and gives opportunities for work to residents. 3D printing is a clean production method with next to no waste, and using PLA instead of materials such as ABS means that working conditions are safe in an already well ventilated area. Providing job opportunities in a positive work environment benefits human wellbeing greatly. The light design itself considers the fact of living spaces becoming smaller, and the value of working from home (which recently has become very high) whilst having reduced surface area for objects of desire. By making this light adjustable in its form and lamp brightness, as well as having a small footprint (just 10cm square), it ensures that the user can live and work to their fullest, improving their wellness greatly by providing flexibility through a luxury, yet attainable product. Gantri themselves also have a platform that enables a curated community of product and industrial designers to create uniquely-inspired lights and make them accessible to all - this allows for up and coming designers to join the community whilst making good, responsible design for the general population.
- Does your design support sustainable production, embodying circular or regenerative design practices?
Buddy is manufactured by Gantri, who specialize in digital manufacturing using cutting-edge 3D printing technology. This is because industrial manufacturing lead to oversupply and waste, while traditional hand-crafting makes high-quality design too costly. This is why I chose to work with Gantri.
They have a next-generation factory that uses 3D printing to produce luxury-quality products using an intelligent production management system which automatically plans out jobs for each machine, and adjusts stock levels in real time. It maximises their production capacity and minimises inventory, so there is much less waste, and the customer isn’t paying for inefficiencies.
The chosen printing materials are translucent and opaque PLA. Working with materials scientists at ColorFabb, they have custom blends of corn PLA (polyactic acid) that are specifically made for premium lighting products to ensure durability and quality.
All products are hand-finished using water based marine paints - this process allows for luxury, made to order products sustainable to create and safer for the environment.
I have parametrically designed Buddy using the latest CAD software, which allows for incredibly easy and efficient updates and adjustments should needs be. Key features such as material use and mechanical design can be easily calculated and refined without months of testing and excessive failed prototypes due to human error. The design has few parts, thus providing easy assembly and disassembly in the rare case of product failure. The light has been designed such that the internals can be accessed in-house with little damage, using standard screws and fixings.
- Does your design use principles of distribution and open source?
Buddy is created in the US and is only available for sale in the US and Canada, with the belief that products should be made closer to where they’re consumed. This reduces unnecessary shipping (one of the world’s biggest pollutants) and allows Gantri to maintain high quality standards while employing local workers. For this reason they built their first factory in California and are continuing to invest in expanding North American production for US and Canada customers. By collaborating with a company that honours local distribution, I have managed to reduce the global CO2 impact of shipping, whilst also being able to educate my friends and family in my home country (UK) as to why they may not be able to buy a light and have it shipped here. Creating an object of desire has helped them to understand the value of local production and hopefully in the future will give reason for Gantri to open a production facility in other continents, such as Europe.
The fact that I have parametrically designed Buddy using CAD software also means that it is compatible to be shared and distributed internally within Gantri, making it easy to manufacture multiples and track the progress of each one, whilst also making it easily adjustable to future 3d printing technologies. A key component, the torque pivot, which is now a stock part thanks to Buddy, has been shared with the Gantri platform and community, opening up the possibilities for future designers and therefore contributing to open source design.
- Does your design promote awareness of responsible design and consumption?
My decision to work with Gantri speaks to itself in volumes – the core of Gantri’s principles and communication to its customers is the fact that Buddy is created using modern technology that is built upon minimal waste and maximum efficiency, using environmentally friendly materials. By clearly communicating a higher price point but also what advantages that price point entails, encourages the consumer to be more aware of they are paying for, and in the long term, encourages them to look for better quality, longer lasting products with a premium status. The design of Buddy itself is a timeless and minimal design, emanating quality that conveys to the user that it is product to keep for life, not a single or short-lived product. Its characterful styling also grows with the user to be a ‘ helpful friend’ and in due course a reliable ‘buddy’ which is at its core – this taps into emotionally durable design ensuring that the user is responsible for its care, use, and ultimately, life.