Behind-the-Scenes with our Design Studio

Behind-the-Scenes with our Design Studio

Posted by Charlotte Boates on

Everything that we offer at GOODLAND is envisioned by our in-house design studio—a small team working out of Vancouver—and through partnerships with select designers and artists. With our studio, we’re able to ideate objects exactly as we’d like them to be—giving us the freedom to create meaningful and lasting objects for pause. 

We chatted with two of the designers at our in-house studio—Ryan Boechler and George Zeigler. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how we chose what to make, how our design process is different, and a few behind-the-scenes insights.

 

GOODLAND design team
our designers working on a product

 


How do you decide if a design project is worth pursuing?


Ryan:

A lot of things that we make are born out of something not existing, or some version existing that didn’t meet our expectations of quality. Take the Wood Burning Hot TubCraig and Kendra had a different wood fired hot tub and noticed many parts of the experience that could be improved, which led them to creating their own design. Or the Floating Thermometer. Originally, we just wanted to source one, but we couldn’t find one nice enough and that fit our parameters—leading us down the path of making our own. 


George

Another thing we consider is keeping a minimal aesthetic. It can feel like there are endless accessories or features that we could make, but we don’t want to turn everything into a swiss army knife. I think that the idea of being judicious about what we introduce is important—we need to have a strong point of view that something absolutely provides value.

Ryan

We’re also always refining our design process, it’s not something that’s set in stone. That’s something you can’t do with a larger team.


design process at GOODLAND

What’s unique about the design process at GOODLAND?


Ryan

A big one is that we don’t white label anything—we don’t just find products that already exist and put our logo on them. 


George

This is the case even when it’s something that’s fairly standard. Like our Everlasting Garden Hose—we could’ve just gone and found something “good enough” to order. But at the end of the day, it made more sense to make our own, so we could make it just right. We had tons of conversations with suppliers and manufacturers until we found a hose manufacturer that could make us exactly what we wanted.


Ryan

We’re usually the most difficult customers to our manufacturing partners, because we have to insist on really specific parameters. It’s not about the margins, it’s about the product—that’s one of the biggest ways that we’re different.


George

We also have the freedom and flexibility to choose our own launch dates. We don’t have to always be rushing to meet a seasonal deadline, instead we can take our time to consider every important factor before we launch.

GOODLAND products packaged for shipping
cardboard packaging

 

We often talk about considered design, what does this mean to you?


Ryan

It’s about the entire experience—from shipping it to receiving it and opening it, to immediately understanding how to use it. It’s all of these touchpoints, and making sure that each one is an enjoyable and seamless experience.

For example, we wrap our Wood Burning Hot Tub mainly in cardboard and other recyclable materials for shipping. A crate would be an easier way for us to ship the hot tub, but it’s hard to dispose of a crate. Our packaging is one of those things that’s way harder for us to do, but makes for a better experience for our customers. So considered design isn’t just thoughtful features of the actual product, but every step of the process.


George 

So, another aspect of considered design is thinking about techniques and processes that go into making it. Going to the production studio for our Wood Burning Hot Tub in Winnipeg and visiting the facilities gives us a better understanding of what things look like on that end, which helps us make better decisions during the design process. 


GOODLAND design team meeting

What do you look for when choosing a material?


Ryan

Performance is one of the main things—is this material the best for the job? Not just the material itself, but how it’s finished too—getting things to be just right is very difficult and takes a lot of time to nail down. Aesthetics is also a huge element. With the aluminum in the Wood Burning Hot Tub, we really took our time to choose just the right aluminum that was the perfect combination of aesthetics and function. 


George

We’ll also take it a step further. With the Wood Burning Hot Tub, it’s hard to tell, but every square inch of the tub is hand-finished with a soft abrasive, giving it a uniform appearance and feel.  There’s artistry to hand-finish things like this. It’s not the easiest thing for us to do, but it gives a greater sense of considered design.


Ryan

The aluminum also reflects different types of light in a very satisfying way. It isn’t polished or matte, it’s something else that looks so great whether it’s in person or in photos. Again, this is something that’s hard to do—it’s way more efficient and cheap to use a different kind of aluminum, but we insist on this raw aluminum with a slight finish because of these qualities. Even though the aluminum objects seem simple and minimal, they take a lot of work. 


inspecting GOODLAND products during production

How does the community impact the process?


Ryan

We have a very unique and amazing community, who are very open to participating in the process. It’s very special to be able to design things that take longer, and that there’s people waiting for us to make things just right. We’ve found that our community is really smart, capable, and appreciative—we really feel lucky.

Craig, the founder, really values the conversation feedback loop, as well. He always gets excited when he has multiple inquiries for something that’s coming soon. We also design things based on feedback from people and what they’re looking for, so that plays a huge role in our process.


Can you give an example of a particularly interesting design challenge that you overcame at GOODLAND?


Ryan

The Cedar Bath Tray was a really interesting one, since we wanted to make it adjustable. We could’ve made it just one size for our hot tub, but we wanted people to be able to use it with other products or even their own indoor bathtub. So, we came up with this custom knob mechanism that you can loosen and tighten to change the size. It seems simple, but it really wasn’t. We had to custom-make all of the hardware, including a custom brass knob.

George

There definitely would’ve been an easier way to design the Bath Tray, but it would’ve been a lot less enjoyable for someone to use.

Ryan

We went through so many prototypes. I made three of them myself, and during that testing phase we realized that our original design for the knob was too sleek (this was also originally the same part as in our Hand Shower), so it’d get slippery in the bath and difficult to adjust. So, we had to design one with a knurled pattern—essentially ridges—to make it work. Through this experimentation, we created something unique and better.

George
The bath tray is also great because we figured out that it’s a nice seat for a break from the heat. We always try to think of other use cases, too. Having a place to sit for a moment to pause outside of the tub is a delightful experience.

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