You think about how many amazing products there are in the world that don't even see the light of day because there is no designer to give them life.
Peter Buchanan Smith, designer and founder of Best Made Co. is passionate about products. Jess met with him in his Tribeca studio this past Fall to talk about how designers are great “product people.”
Peter’s design portfolio includes brand identity for Isaac Mizrahi, collaborations with Maria Kalman, and Grammy award-winning album art for Wilco. In 2009, he left all of the client-work behind and launched Best Made Co. with a single product, the Best Made American Felling Axe. Hand-crafted in Maine and custom-painted in Tribeca, the axes have become extremely popular with high-end shoppers, outdoorsmen, and the design community alike. With such a successful career in traditional graphic design, why start a business? Why risk the security of client-work and the guaranteed income? For Peter, it was love of the product and the chance to do it all.
He said, “When it came to Best Made it was really a fascinating process because I could do everything. I could craft the story, create the Best Made world, and develop the product. I think that is the fun and the tricky part, but if you’re a designer, you’re totally equipped.”
It’s also about the chance to tell a story that people connect with, and to bring interesting products to the market. “You think about how many amazing products there are in the world that don’t even see the light of day because there is no designer to give them a framework, to give them a voice, to give them a story, to give them all these things—to give them a life.”
Peter has tapped into a growing niche of artisan-craftsman collaborations with designers. He used his superb design skills and know-how to take the business from a company that makes axes, to a brand that tells stories and encourages the boy scout, adventurer, and dreamer in all of us.