If you’ve been here for a while, you may remember that we featured designer David Weeks in our 2012 Where I Work column. Almost eight years later, we decided to revisit his Brooklyn studio, which has since moved from its previous DUMBO location, to new digs in Bed-Stuy. This is where Weeks designs and develops its diverse collection, including lighting, furniture, accessories and even Cubebot® wooden robot toys. To see what else David Weeks is up to, we drove to Brooklyn to visit the new studio in Where I Work this month.
What is your studio / work environment like?
Correspondingly unkempt. I really appreciate a clean workspace, but it’s not really in me. I inevitably start to gain some momentum at the end of the day and I find it hard to clean up. There are two dogs that are detained part-time. They work in turns unless their joint input is required.
How is your room organized / arranged?
The studio has to fulfill all functions of the company. We manufacture, assemble and design in-house. Each concentration has its own area and its own jobs.
How long have you been in this room? Where did you work before?
We have had our current room for about 5 years. Before that we were in Dumbo for over 20 years.
If you could change anything in your workspace, what would it be?
Ideally, we have a Shiatzu therapist on site three times a week and a nice neighborhood café one block away.
Did you have to make adjustments to the way you work because of the pandemic?
Yes, we had to take turns creating shifts to avoid overcrowding the different departments. I’m looking forward to the day when everyone can just come to work, be creative, and work together.
How do you see things change in your workplace when COVID-19 is now part of our reality?
Zoom will, of course, continue to be an everyday tool. The nice thing is that this frees up unproductive travel time and allows immediate group meetings. And the retail aspect of the showroom is shifting. We hope to have more one-on-one interactions in the actual studio so customers can see how things are actually made by hand here.
Is there a pet in the office?
Yes Milo and Lexi!
Do you need background music? If so, who are some favorites?
Every store has its own taste in music. The metal shop fell straight into the industry standard for speed metal without being asked: Pantera, Clutch, Slipknot, everything on the pirate radio at 89.5 Seton Hall. The assembly shop starts the morning with NPR and switches to hip hop for the afternoon. Design is a little quieter than I would like. Apparently they need to “focus”. What ever.
How do you pick up ideas?
I tend to use the back of a piece of paper within easy reach. I’m in the process of looking in production folders for unrealized sketches, editing and compiling ideas, and making collages from what’s left.
Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?
I’ll fill the inspiration boards when I’m done. Occasionally, I create non-existent projects for suitable customers: custom-made stress relief products for Nerf, headset effect pedals for Boss, inflatable clothing for landfall navigation.
What is your typical work style?
It happens to have a familiar sound. I still haven’t really settled into a routine since we moved. I have multiple locations that I’ve used. A banking workstation overlooking the courtyard of our Bed Stuy property and an 1860s foundry building in New York state, but my home was in Brooklyn Heights during the pandemic. As nice as these options sound, everything I need is always in the other place.
How is your creative process and / or your creative workflow? Does it change or keep every project?
I need blocks of time to get involved in a project and stay committed. It’s hard to plan exactly. This year has been challenging in many ways and I have had a hard time finding the focus. I look forward to finding a new rhythm for 2021.
What kind of art / design / objects could you have scattered across the room?
Our new prototypes from our collaboration with Tala UK. The remainder of the test, the models and sketches left over from a leather project are being completed. A box full of ¼ ”thick steel bowls.
Are there tools and / or machines in your room?
What are your favorite tools to use in the design process?
A mat knife, vise and some needle jigs, a 1 inch table belt sander with the guards removed to give access to the entire belt (wheels and everything), and a small sledgehammer that I found on Georgica Beach on Long Island have found.
What design software do you use, if any, and for what?
Rhino is the standard for product development. I’m getting more familiar with Blender so I can stop being a designer in the back seat. We have a couple of 3D printers that I wish would run like the old Dunkin Donuts commercials.
What’s on your desk right now?
We are finishing the details of our new collection. It’s the most exciting and boring point – waiting for the last parts and the end. It’s almost finished hanging from the ceiling, but still has to be assembled, wired and lit.
Is there a favorite project / piece you’ve been working on?
I still love the wooden animal series. Always a pleasure to see them in stores. I have several more types that I hope will be available in the not too distant future.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
A new top secret project starting next year.
In addition, we are always working on ideas and tests. The current Longshot are custom-made wooden shoes. They are based on the traditional Dutch archetype. I wore a standard gardening pair for a year and eventually felt comfortable modifying them. I cut the weight by almost half and reshaped them. A little more time in the studio and you should be done.
Do you have something in your home that you designed / created?
I developed the original Waaw chaise longue in Senegal. The second version of the US version of the Semana chair was originally sold through Habitat UK. Many of the prototypes of the wooden animals were developed for areaware. The Daisey Cutter (a baseball bat modified to look like a machine gun for the ADC (American Design Club), plus several oil paintings and some additional artwork, not to mention most of the lighting.