Sinclair Smith & Company is a multi-disciplinary design studio based in Brooklyn, NY. Our services include strategic consulting, industrial design and interior design.



Radio or not…

Posted on May 20, 2011 in Product, Tech

I’m working on a radio for a client and trying to make it cheap. And cool. So this caught my eye. Though not cheap enough. Still, a clever integration of existing and leading tech (read: iPhone) into a humble block of wood. Granted, it’s unspeakably wasteful– the iPhone can do all that just fine by itself– but there’s some joy there so score another for Jonas Damon. Truth be told, I cry foul on mine own criteria as this is no radio at all but just an alarm clock. Still. It goes in the pile marked inspiring. (Available at Areaware.)

Michael Lax in the grid?

Posted on Apr 11, 2011 in Cinema, Food, Product


As spotted in Tron Legacy, I’m pretty positive that’s one of Michael’s cast aluminum bowls for Metaal right there.

Nice bag

Posted on Apr 6, 2011 in Manufacturing, Product


The Summit Pack by Frost River Reliable Softgoods. Simple, iconic design. Affordable. American made in Duluth, Minnesota.

Concept: Digital film cartridge for 35mm analog still camera

Posted on Apr 5, 2011 in Product, Web

The web went haywire today with traffic to a product site introducing Re35, a small digital device shaped like a 35mm film cartridge that could be inserted into an analog 35mm still camera to perform digital capture, thereby re-enabling millions of tragically extinct technological relics of the 20th century. Sadly the site and its offering are an April Fools gag from German design firm Rogge & Pott. It’s a genius idea and an extremely disruptive technology and threatening market challenge that should be within reach soon enough I’d think. The problem would be hitting the right price point of course, but also packing the processing power into the cartridge, possible increase in “emulsion” thickness creating registration problems and moving the focal plane which might require alteration of the hyper focal distance, and possibly having to alter the door on your old camera to deal with all that jazz. So what, I’m a nerd. It’s my job. But seriously yesterday I was daydreaming about shopping for a new DSLR and telling the dude at B&H that I do want all the bells and whistles on the full size sensor cameras– all I want is my Nikon F3 to do digital capture and I’ll do the rest later in Photoshop. Not this year. You can see Rogge & Pott’s project page for Re35 product and marketing package on their site here. Great stuff. Let’s see how long before these guys put Re35 up on Kickstarter.

Modular storage crate systems

Posted on Mar 28, 2011 in Furniture, Product, SS&CO projects

A friend sent me a post from swissmiss about a new storage system from Spain called Brick Box. He sent it to me because he saw in it strong similarities to my own Spacecases that we used in his store. No one is suggesting any foul play, just someone else’s approach to a common design problem– how do you make a furniture grade system of boxes that are easy to carry for short term mobility and stack reliably and attractively for long term storage and display? It’s really not a big deal— it’s a five sided box of whatever dimension you choose, with or without moving parts like doors on the sixth side. The real challenge is in elegantly addressing the ability of the boxes to interlock when stacked for safety and stability without excess hardware and “stuff” tacked on. I have seen a number of approaches to this problem. I don’t think any of them including mine has really solved the problem to my standards. Brick Box is close. They have also addressed another critical issue, shipping. How do you address product scalability from a cost perpective when the bulk of shipping a box is the empty space inside. Sinclair Spacecases are extremely durable, but the cabinet grade fabrication techniques do not allow for consumer assembly. So in short, no flat packing = high shipping cost. Brick Boxes pack flat, but at the expense of what I deem unseemly hardware, i.e. screws, and the potential for user assembly error and what I call the Ikea syndrome: you can put it together, put it down and use it, but if you ever so much as try to move it an inch, it will collapse. (Which may explain why Ikea themselves abandoned a similar concept as suggested in the swissmiss comment thread.) So much for the sustainable footprint of flat packing when it’s not really modular. Granted, I have never held or used Brick Boxes, but I am skeptical. Plus, I feel like the little feet that they attached to each box to create the interlock is an inelegant after thought, just kind of stuck on there without being a real part of the product’s designed form. Still, I congratulate them on a solution to a problem I have spent a lot of time thinking about and sketching myself. And I congratulate them further on their ambition and branded approach. Godspeed!

Blue Bottle Coffee: now with more green

Posted on Mar 19, 2011 in Branding, Brooklyn, Eco, Food, Product, sustaina-bling


As if Blue Bottle Coffee were not already about as cool as it gets with their incredible roasts and brews and foams and wild apparatus behind the glass there on Berry in Williamsburg, they had to go that extra step and be as green as possible with their cups. New cups are 100% compostable with a bio-degradable plastic lining, and the lids are compostable too (maybe made from corn?). Good on you BBC. Love you guys!

Peppermills everywhere– watch your back

Posted on Feb 28, 2011 in Food, Product, Quotidien things, Tools

Some readers may know that I have a little tick when it comes to peppermills. A tick is too mild. Most peppermills fill me with rage. They are clumsy and carelessly designed, messily delivering a precious ingredient to our most precious rituals of cooking and eating. I even toyed with devoting my master’s thesis to the subject. Suffice it to say for now that the peppermill stands at a crossroads out there on my horizon, a crossroads from which neither of us will walk away the same. Pictured above is a basic look at the peppermill market today. And below is a close up on that little sign in the middle. (Photo taken at Whisk in Brooklyn.)

But these are all of one brand you’re saying. Sure, sure, as the inset says, these are all Peugeot peppermills, but Peugeot is the market leader and at least from a formal perspective (excluding the Peppermate) represents the dominant trend in peppermill design– a turned piece of wood cut into two parts and bored out to hold peppercorns and the grinder mechanism which threads through both and holds them together via a little closed nut on top. And it’s been this way for, what does it say? 150 years? Ok, I’m the first to admit that some tools really shouldn’t be toyed with and any effort to improve them is vain, wasteful and destined for embarrassment. But I am going to step out of my little box and say this: Peppermills everywhere– watch your back. I’m coming after you.

Bathtub Overflow Cover

Posted on Feb 28, 2011 in Eco, Product, Quotidien things, sustaina-bling

It is a growing concern of mine that publications from the product design community continuously tend to focus on innovations in form, style and lifestyle influence, attributes of products that are central to their perceived value by us users, but that are really only a small part of the story of their measurable impact as tools. The sustainability movement has raised critical awareness and has increased the chic value of the conservative utility of new products, but what remains of concern is that we are still talking about innovations and new products, i.e. more stuff. So one thing I’d like to do more of here is celebrate quotidien, existing and (from my perspective) unsung heroes in products and product design. Probably that will mean just the products themselves as most of them will not be glamourous enough to have afforded their innovators any notoriety, but so what, it is better to do good than to be thanked. So with that said, let’s begin…. And let’s give thanks along the way.

Over the past year and a half, my two and a half year old son and I have been bathing every evening before his bedtime, and as he grows taller, we let the water level get higher. But as the water level rises, so does the amount of water lost to the overflow drain toward the top of the tub. For months of filling and refilling I stared at the overflow and listened to the sound of wasted water, remembering my own father’s lament at the same. I remembered what he brought back as a solution and decided it was time to hunt one down myself:

The bathtub overflow stopper is a remarkably simple, single part device that uses suction cups to surround and seal the tub overflow and restrict drainage through a hole that can be positioned anywhere around the drain’s perimeter.

To date I have not measured the amount of water I save each bath but I would guess that it measures in the tens of gallons, equal at least in displaced volume to me and my son combined. The packaging says it will allow 60% more water into the tub, or save you 60% of your water use without it, but my tub is quite old and unusually deep and long, so that number is going to be smaller. I have a 150 gallon hot water heater and know that without the overflow stopper, over the course of a typical 30 minute bath in our big old tub, after refilling a few times to keep from freezing our shoulders we started to lose peak hot water and I could feel the dilution of cold into the hot water tank coming through the line. So I can guess that we were approaching the 100 gallon mark per bath. Insane. Over the course of a week, that nearly reaches the basic water rate in Brooklyn set by the DEP which is “$2.61 per Hundred Cubic Feet (HCF which is equivalent to 748 gallons of water.” With the overflow stopper, I don’t lose water to the overflow and I don’t refill the tub anymore. I am guessing I use half as much water per bath. That’s only a buck and a quarter per week, but it’s enough water to fill two Hipporoller water carriers– per day! If I could divert that water to the needy I would. For now, I am grateful for a simple solution to a huge waste of water.

And bathing with family is fun.

Couldn’t resist. (So modest.)

I want it

Posted on Feb 21, 2011 in Endless stuff, Fashion, Product

J.Crew has been getting it right a lot lately, particularly for men. Their own products are not always of very good quality and can be over priced. But their decisions on what products to sell from outside brands has been excellent. So with that said, if anyone feels inspired, please buy me this.

Something’s wrong here.

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 in Dysfunction, Eco, Endless stuff, Packaging, Product

This is a clear hard plastic cover for an iPhone 4 still in its packaging from Incase.

And this is the price tag. Not bad. Someone’s doing pretty well making aftermarket plastic parts for a fancy phone and charging a fancy penny. But what gets me is this: below are the four main components that make up just the disposable packaging for the plastic phone cover:

From right to left, a glossy paper bifold “manual” that sits in the thermo formed anti rattle shipping tray to its left (which nests the phone cover not pictured) which nests in the pressure formed paper pulp tray to its left which slides into the printed sheath to its left and we’re done. So below we have the phone case on the left and the mountain of trash it comes in to its right.

And what I wanna know is when you go back to the unit cost for this product which is packaging for a package for a phone, what costs more, the single plastic case or its packaging?