I always like to support any independent design entrepreneur who is trying to help us small-space dwellers live smarter and happier in our tiny digs.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Eng, the inventor of the Bed Shelfie, a sturdy, chic, affordable and portable mini-nightstand that easily clips onto a bed frame. It’s compact and made from sustainable materials like bamboo. I only wish I had thought of it first!
Here is a bit of the interview with Chris that may inspire you to live better with less:
- What art or creative background do you have? Are you full time Bed Shelfie, or did you keep your day job?
I went to the University of Southern California to pursue entrepreneurship – you could say the intersection of design and business to meet the world’s needs. Most of my technical creative experience comes from Master Planning Disney Theme Park which took on a heavy Guest Experience focus to inform immersive, transformative experiences.
Working at Disney Imagineering was a childhood dream (literally) and the more I better understood Walt’s underlying message behind the parks, the more I realized he wanted us to understand we all (already) have the courage to pursue our deepest dreams and aspirations – mine being entrepreneurship. That said, I left Disney after seven years to take on projects like the BedShelfie, full time.
- What life event/needs inspired you to create the Bed Shelfie?
The BedShelfie was inspired by the magic of living with less. Some combination of constantly moving around for work and reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” inspired me to free myself of his clunky furniture starting with where I started and finished my day – the bedroom.
From working at Disney, I knew the best design accomplished multiple goals. To replace the nightstand the solution had to be equal parts beautiful, sturdy, easy to use and eco-friendly.
My first ‘aha’ moment came when studying the incredible strength and versatility of the time-tested clamp mechanism. The design question, at hand, became finding a way to translate the strength of something that was traditionally metal, into something both beautiful and eco-friendly.
- How difficult is it to go from concept, to engineering and construction of prototypes to marketing it?
I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed that’s missing from the innovation process, is what is typically thought of as the “last step” – marketing.
In taking concept to reality, I’ve had many personal breakthroughs around the importance of integrating marketing throughout the ideation and design process. Discovering who you’re serving and then engaging that audience to turn your hypotheses about their needs into facts about their needs, strengthened and informed every step of the development process from design specs, to material choices, to packaging, to brainstorming future improvement.
- How many prototypes did you go through before you knew this was it?
We iterated through 4 prototypes until we locked into something that achieved both the initial design objectives of aesthetics, load bearing requirements, overall weight and cost feasibility from a manufacturing standpoint to ensure the product was ultimately affordable.
- Who do you see as your target consumer?
The target consumer is someone who wants a minimalist approach to furniture to free up space in a smaller home. Think, a millennial who is design savvy but doesn’t want to invest in clunky furniture that would weigh them down from moving because they don’t expect to stay in one spot of the world too long.
- Was it important that you keep the materials sustainable and the product affordable?
Building a sustainable future is our highest priority and I’m in love with how much bamboo forwards that conversation. If there was a super food of building material, bamboo would be it. The strength, character and renewable characteristics of bamboo is what enabled this idea to move forward.
Product affordability was also absolutely part of the conversation the entire time, given this is a nightstand replacement.
- What is the Bed Shelfie manifesto? What are the core beliefs behind the product?
The BedShelfie manifesto is simple, to forward the magic of minimalism (the counterintuitive notion that less is more) while creating a future with a sustainable approach we can be proud of now.
Given population growth is something we can expect to reduce the size of our homes globally, the BedShelfie and the products I want to create help us rise up to that challenge.
Check out Chris’ Kickstarter video and find out how to put your name on the pre-order list.