ConTesting Objects Part 2: Hardware or Not March 14 2014

For many years, I’ve looked for opportunities to introduce conventional and/or custom metal hardware into my accessory designs.  The adaptive-reuse of surplus aerospace parts and simple custom-machined hardware appeal to something at the roots of my aesthetic sensibilities.  I love the machined finish of non-precious metals such as stainless steel and titanium, the streaks from on the metal tooling, the juxtaposition of the leather against the cold, matte, dark grey surfaces, the patina forming a protective layer on material.  However, as my studio has brought 10 pieces of jewelry and 5 bags into production, we still have not yet used hardware in any of them.  I now realize that this has to some degree become a distinguishing characteristic of the line.  The question, however, is why?

In leather goods, hardware is a foreign object primarily functioning to fasten, connect, or to protect and reinforce.  The secondary purpose is to add visual interest.  Whether hardware is added to leather with the intent of this secondary purpose or not, unless it is hidden it usually draws attention to itself.  Based on this, hardware has an obligation to create interesting dialog between itself and the environment in which it is placed.  In common practice, however, the functional necessity of adding hardware often precludes any decorative or compositional benefits that might concurrently make a given object more interesting. 

To contest this prevailing condition and to explore other possibilities, we have created objects without hardware one after another.  Even so, each time we ask: is this a good project to start introducing hardware into the line?

But each time as the designs came into focus, the answer was “no”.  The easy utility of the hardware always seemed to get outshone by the happy and unexpected benefits of its negation.

For instance the absence of snaps in the Tri-Facet wristwear allows the joint to be seamlessly integrated into the design.  We’ve also noted that the wearer is able to use a mouse or to write without the irritation of having hardware between the wrist and the work surface.

In the case of the Mobius bag, the simple and yet unconventional nature of the sliding latch was enough to thwart the persistent attempts of a pickpocket from opening the bag in a crowded Paris Metro. 

During the development process on the Petal and Dragonfly neckwears, we repeatedly struggled with the design of the clasp.  But as many times as we tried to integrate different off-the-shelf solutions, we realized that these were compromising the overall integrity of the design.  Admittedly the integral details are unique and take practice to get accustomed to, but hopefully the benefit of comfort, flexibility and design integrity outweigh the thoughtless use of hardware. 

In the end it is with this approach we challenge ourselves to fully integrate the functions that hardware might otherwise satisfy, as a part of the whole rather than as a disconsonant element.

That said, I have written this post to explain (and to some degree apologize) to our customers who are willing to accept the challenges our products present and patiently indulge the learning curves that come with the quirks of our hardware-less solutions.  Thanks again for your support and we are extremely grateful for your understanding.