For the month of September, San Francisco plays host to the Architecture and The City Festival, a festival dedicated to exploring how progressive design and creative problem solving can address society’s current challenges and lead to a more sustainable future. The festival features a variety of lectures, films, tours and discussions all centered around the theme “Architecture of Consequence” with the goal of demonstrating and discussing the positive impact architects and designers have on our communities.
Last night, Propeller Modern—a home design store that features local designers in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco— hosted the JOBY | Peter Stathis Venture Collaboration lighting line and designers Peter Stathis and Phillip Wood in a discussion about the unique design culture of San Francisco and green LED technology. Peter Stathis is a wonderful speaker with quite the sense of humor. That coupled with his deep understanding of realities of designing today made for a very interesting lecture. I enjoyed the discussion and wanted to share with you some of Peter Sathis’ comments.
Designing Today vs Designing Yesterday
Peter Stathis has been part of the design community for 25 years. He began his career in New York and about 10 years ago moved to San Francisco.
Previously, designing in the US was linear and limited. You could only design what you could make. But, with the disengagement of manufacturing and distribution, the playing field has changed. There are opportunities out there, space for collaboration across borders, across countries. Design is global again.
East Coast vs West Coast
New York doesn’t make things. New York makes ads for things. There is real opportunity in San Francisco. The scope of what you can achieve is phenomenal because of the culture and the community here. What three to four people can achieve here in San Francisco, it would take 20 to 30 people to do in New York. San Francisco is very permissive, less structured and traditional. It is an incredible place with highly collaborative people and advanced technology. Having that at your fingertips is fantastic. There is also a sense of trust here that is unique—people take bigger leaps.
The JOBY | Peter Stathis Venture Collaboration is a perfect example of this permissive business culture, this collaborative spirit. The way we worked together was not traditional. It was very dynamic. The products we created in just 18 months could not have be possible without collaboration.
On the Trapeze and Obus
The Trapeze and Obus are simple in appearance, but made with very sophisticated technology. They are designed from the inside out. The LED light panels are remarkably efficient, but the design is also playful and self-evident. We wanted to take light and put it anywhere, similar to what JOBY offers with its GorillaPod line.
On His Design Philosophy
I’m into aesthetics. I spend a lot of time making my products as simple looking as possible. There is not a lot of shenanigans going on. My products are built for efficiency, durability and to be intuitive—like a tool. But, I also understand that there is a level of engagement beyond sheer function. There is an emotional engagement, and the outward appearance of the product taps into that. It is magic—hiding very useful and sophisticated technology in a simple appearance. I want to offer a new experience to the people that purchase my designs.
On Green Design
Being green is not first in my mind when I design, but the objects that I design are green. I design as simply as possible — there is nothing superfluous to remove from my designs. I am also designing to last. My products are durable. They are meant to be around for 15 to 20 years, not just a few seasons. I also use recyclable materials; the LEDs in my products are extremely efficient in terms of energy use. For example, the Trapeze is made of 90% recyclable materials, the LED light panel has a life span of 20 years.
A special thank you to Peter and Phillip from JOBY for such an interesting discussion! If you are in the Bay Area and would like to attend other Architecture and The City events similar to this one, the festival guide is available here.