The Sedeō stool is created by Petter Thörne and Joshua Morrison, the designers behind Fundament. The stool materialised as the result of a crowdfunding campaign. DANISH™ spoke to Joshua Morrison about the process.
How did you come up with the idea of crowdfunding the Sedeō piece?
First there was the idea to design the stool. I wanted to build a meditation stool for myself and discussed it with my co-founder Petter Thörne, who also meditates and is a highly skilled product designer. We often do small projects in our workshop for creative exercise. After talking through what I wanted to make, a stool that was collapsable and easily transportable, we made some sketches, built a couple of prototypes and decided it might be a good product.
When we decided to found Fundament together, we were very specific about the underlying principles we wanted to follow in all of our work as a firm. The moral side of design was a key part of this – how our work could make the world better, rather than selling more furniture in an industry that is known for its unsustainable practices.
We decided to take a simple product, the kneeling stool, and design it and its supply chain to be something that we felt was a small model of how product design and furniture could be done better. We needed to use crowdfunding because we wanted to ensure ethical and sustainable practice in every element of the supply chain, which would not have been possible had we sold the design. No one in our collaborative studio (B33) had tried crowdfunding before, so we thought it would be a good experiment that we could all learn from.
How did you find working with crowdfunding?
The crowdfunding has involved an incredible amount of work, but we have enjoyed it and it has forced us to think about the way we work and communicate our process. It has also given us a network of advocates for the product that we never could have achieved through regular commercial sales.
What reactions have you had to Sedeō?
Most responses have been from our customers, who do not really think about what is design and what is not, but they have been very pleased with it. Most responses so far have been about the product itself, rather than the process. This is OK because we wanted the design to stand for itself, and for the product not to be about its story and process. We would prefer this to be a bonus for people to discover.
How – and why – did you choose your craftsmen?
Our desire to pay fair wages to all the people involved in the process also meant that we had to create a design that matched aesthetics and function with ease of construction. Every cut that we could eliminate in the production process meant that we could maintain higher pay without breaking our budget. It also allowed us to use the best material currently available globally from an environmental and human standpoint for the stool’s case – fair-trade organic cotton, handwoven at a women’s cooperative in India.
We were lucky to find a workshop producing very high-quality work that was also a social enterprise and was based in Copenhagen. The workshop trains people in carpentry who had struggled with employment and/or faced minor disabilities. This fits perfectly with our vision for the product, and so it was an easy decision.
What do you love most about the project or the process?
What I love most about the product is that I am proud of it. This seems basic but is actually quite rare when working in design, which is a field with a lot of complex conflicting interests. Each stool that we sell supports many people who deserve to be supported and who do incredible work. It is designed not to be replaced, but to last generations. I also believe it will have a positive impact on our customers, whether they use it for meditating or for seating. The tilted surface of the seat has an incredible impact on mental clarity. Who knows what great ideas might originate atop a Sedeō?
Will there be a follow-up to the Sedeō? (Like the perfect working table?)
There may be. We have had conversations about this but cannot share anything at this time.
How can people help with crowdfunding?
We used Kickstarter for the first batch of stools in the original campaign. Orders for the second batch are being taken on the Indiegogo marketplace and will soon be available on Amazon.
Although our project is crowdfunded, people have not made donations. It essentially works as a pre-sale, so our customers have ordered the stool before it was created. The average contribution is kr600 ($85).
How do you make the crowd feel the value of funding?
We have kept our customers informed throughout the process, showing them videos and photos and thanking them for helping to make the project possible. We correspond with them through the Kickstarter platform, get feedback on the product and answer any questions they have. So the relationship is much more intimate than with ordinary customers.
Notes on Sedeō production
The Sedeō stools are handmade at a woodshop in Copenhagen and inspired by a traditional woodworking technique of creating joints in furniture. The wood is sourced at an FSC-certified sawmill in Germany, and the stools are manufactured in Denmark instead of overseas. The cases for the stool are made from non-toxic organic cotton handwoven at a women’s cooperative in India.
For more information visit www.sedeostool.com