Behind the scenes of noo.ma's conscious design
They create unconventional, minimalist designs of furniture and accessories. They are constantly developing a collection of products with a feel-good, conscious design. Meet noo.ma's in-house design studio and take a look at behind the scenes of their design processes: Ania Pietkun, Zuza Muszalska, Ala Molińska and Damian Goliński reveal what challenges they face on a daily basis, what design values are most important to them and why production is their source of constant inspiration.
The beginning of each project cycle falls at the end of the year. It’s when designers search for market niches that can be filled and for customer needs that need to be met. Ultimately, they are after products from all popular categories of interior design. Their designing process begins with drawing a comprehensive map of the specific types of products they plan to implement in the coming year.
This is when designers start the proper creative chapter. They like to call it “democratic design”. During regular design sessions, the team focuses on specific products: first they draw their ideas (each designer taking care of their own), second they discuss the forms they created and third they compare their sketches. Usually it is one particular drawing that wins everyone's heart and is taken further. The actual design work starts with the refining of the final form, followed by the selection of materials, planning production, creating prototypes, developing packaging and final implementation. In total, the process will take from 6 to even 24 months. At each stage, abstract thinking and going beyond the usual patterns play a key role.
The basics of design
Each new noo.ma's product must meet a number of previously adopted technical and visual assumptions. The former include operational guidelines, i.e. easy to obtain repeatability and the possibility of flat packing. Most often, team members start with geometric forms – simple shapes, interesting combinations of materials or unusual joining solutions, and sometimes also perfect symmetry. The end result is always minimalist and unforced products – designers do not want them to just stand out for the sake of it. Furniture and accessories are supposed to perfectly blend into various environments, and at the same time stand out with precision of workmanship, shape, sometimes expressive color, or dynamic form.
We do not design museum pieces, but everyday products that should serve for years, be durable, visually universal and not subject to passing trends.
Anna Pietkun, Head of Product
In terms of style, designers focus on light, casual and original design, based on timeless materials of the highest quality. They emphasize that they design products for years, not just for a specific season. It is important that there is a common aspect of the products that democratizes the entire collection and gives it a unique visual language that makes us feel free, joyful and comfortable.
Over the years of joint product development, the design team has accumulated a wealth of valuable technical knowledge about the manufacturing process. They gained not only awareness of production possibilities, but above all they got to know the machines, technologies and challenges that are associated with the mass production of specific types of furniture and accessories. The beginnings of cooperation with factories were not the easiest, because noo.ma's projects and the processes related to them were significantly different from those the contractors were accustomed to.
We use assembly systems that are not popular in the industry, we require flat packing and we are strongly attached to every detail of workmanship and thus repeatability.
Zuza Muszalska, Product Designer
The current relationship between designers and producers is very close – manufacturers play a very important role in the design process. In total, there are over forty plants, mostly large, automated factories. All of them are situated locally throughout Poland, so designers can visit them regularly, verify quality, or draw technological inspiration. A standard point of such visits is to get to know the available production technologies and machines – sometimes it is the impulse of newly learned techniques that gives rise to new furniture and accessories. This relationship often manifests itself in mutual support. Production plants have qualified staff on board, always ready to offer technical advice or suggest improvement and optimization solutions.
Awareness of such specialist support, combined with a full understanding of the challenges facing both sides, ultimately gives us designers a lot of freedom to create.
Ala Molińska, Product Designer
The golden mean
Despite dozens of successful implementations, the design process is slightly different each time and does not always run smoothly. The basic challenge and at the same time an important design assumption is to work out the perfect balance between the uniqueness of the project, repeatability of its execution, and an acceptable final price. In order to achieve the golden mean, designers often modify designs or juggle materials and types of finishes. It happens that dialogue with manufacturers and constructors forces them to look for solutions together, and developing a product that meets all the guidelines is demanding – fortunately, the final effect is always very satisfying.
We are pleased that we have gained full control over all stages: from the first sketch to the final quality control in the warehouse. The target products meet all accepted guidelines, and we, as designers, are fully aware of the process, production techniques, quality and origin of the materials.
Damian Golinski, CEO & Product Designer
Ultimately, it is the proximity of production and fluid technological knowledge, combined with highly utilitarian design thinking and an original look at construction and form, that sets the direction for noo.ma's conscious design approach, oriented towards timelessness and casual comfort.