Creator Q&A: Design Glut

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Liz and Kegan, the two ladies behind Design Glut, champion a design philosophy which favors idiosyncrasy, oddities, and (in their own words) “unexpected twists.” Whether that means a super ironic, limited edition “Crude Necklace” that will only be manufactured if oil reaches $100 a barrel or a candle resembling a wad of money called “Money to Burn,” there’s no question that the budding design duo are producing pieces meant to be just as clever as they are functional. Curious to know more about their unique approach, I recently dropped them a line with a few questions. Check out their answers, along with more of their work, below! Support their project here

You came into this straight out of college with very little experience. What were the first steps that you took? What were the anxieties you dealt with and how did you get past them?

Great question! We both studied industrial design in school, so the first steps we took were to design a couple interesting, boundary-pushing products. Then we turned to the internet. We sent pictures of our first designs to a design bloggers, and from there it just flew. I don’t think either of us really had a plan for what would come next. The biggest anxiety we’ve had is that it always felt like we were walking through a dark tunnel, feeling around blindly, with no real sense of where we were going or how we were going to pay rent. That’s a hard way to live!

What’s always kept us going is the response to our designs from fans and from stores that we sell to. We’ve worked with amazing stores over the past few years, and they’ve helped teach us how to a real manufacturing business should be structured. Now that we understand how it should work, we can get back to what we’re passionate about — designing special pieces that are unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s kind of like we’re starting over right now, rebuilding Design Glut based on everything we’ve learned from years of trial and error.

You guys are notable in that you’ve taken an extremely transparent, very inclusive approach to building your business (posting conversations and how-to’s online, etc) — what inspired you to adopt this approach? Did that attitude have anything to do with why you ultimately decided to come to Kickstarter?

I think the reason we’ve embraced transparency so much is because of the huge reality check we met with when we graduated from art school. It’s kind of like getting your face smashed on the pavement, and you spend the next couple years getting a new education in what it means to be a working artist in the real world. We figured that as long as we were going to have to re-educate ourselves, we might as well document the journey, and hopefully make the transition easier for future graduates. And so our blog was born!

Our interest in transparency definitely influenced our decision to use Kickstarter. We’ve always shared our stories with the design community, so this this just seems like a logical extension. The more honest we’ve been about exactly where we’re at and what we’re doing, the more good things have always come our way. A lot of people feel like they need to be very secretive and protective about their ideas, in case someone knocks them off. We disagree. You can always come up with more ideas! The feedback you get from people talking about and responding to what you’re up to is priceless.

Really curious to know the inspiration behind egg pants! Did you find your breakfast food offensively attired (ie: nekkid)?!

I mean, naked eggs are pretty scandalous! We’re just doing our best to add decency to the world.

In your project video, you say that you’re very “idea-based” — I like that! With that in mind, what is your creative process like? Do you try to come up with something as outrageous as possible and then work backwards?

That’s a pretty apt description. We throw a bunch of ideas back and forth, trying to come up with objects that make sense in really unexpected ways. Once there’s an idea that really tickles our fancy, we start thinking about the realities of making it.

In the past, we haven’t limited ourselves in terms of materials and have then had to work backwards to figure out how to make the object real. It’s been fun, but it’s also meant that we’ve been super slow to come out with new things. Every design idea required tons of research and making new connections with manufacturers. At this point, we’re choosing to stick with jewelry as the medium for a while, so that we can get all the ideas our of our heads faster!

Are your “unexpected twists” a conscious effort you make to include, or is it something that evolves organically into your designs?  

We definitely create the twists consciously. We enjoy coming up with little bits of cleverness that make our objects poetic, or tell a story in some way. Whether or not people get it is a whole other thing… The different interpretations we get back from the world kind of adds to the fun of it. Our Crude Jewelry was meant to be heavily, heavily ironic. And yet we sold some of the necklaces to people who work in the oil industry! At first that shocked me, but in the end I think it kind of made the project even better and more ironic.

One of your rewards is a video conference where you share your knowledge of starting a small business/answer audience questions. I think this i really awesome, and it speaks well to the all-inclusive-theme that i touched on above — what was your thinking on including this as a reward? 

We feel like the knowledge of how to be a working artist/designer should be common knowledge! We’re all for people following their passions and reclaiming their time to do something purposeful, rather than working a job they hate for 9 hours a day. I know a lot of the people that follow our story have their own projects they’re trying to get off the ground, and we’re more than happy to help. I think small business owners definitely need to band together.

What’s an example of an awkward thank you? :)

Dear John,

This is kind of uncomfortable, but you gave us money on the internet, and now we have to write you something. Physical letters are kind of intimate, huh? Well, we’ve never met you, but since you helped us fund our dream, we feel very close to you. Even closer, now that we know your address. Is that creepy? Sorry. Uh. OK, let’s start over. Thank you so much for helping us on Kickstarter! You are the most awesome!!!!


Liz and Kegan

How has your use of Kickstarter been so far? 

It’s been a huge learning experience. I kind of wish we’d talked to other people who had done it first before setting out. I don’t think either of us realized how time-intensive it would be, and in hindsight I definitely would have given us more time to fund the drive. Showing pieces from the new line and making them available for pre-sale has really helped generate interest. We’ve been reaching out to people we know in person, as well as design bloggers, to help spread the word. Refinery29 did an awesome story on our drive and we hope to have more press coverage this week!

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