Most of my artistic efforts are in the aspects of 2-Dimensional fine art. Basically painting, drawings, two-dimensional media is where my comfort zone usually lies. I have ventured into sculpture and form fundamentals and have found them quite enticing! The ability and disovery to form and shape something with your hands and tools, or to take away pieces to find that shape and utilize negative space is quite the journey. I also remember being intriguged and a fan of the various Do-It-Yourself and HGTV channels. So when the aspects of art, form serve an actual function find themselves on the same palette? My curiosity is piqued! Today we'll be speaking with one such artist/craftsman Manny Quinones of Hawaii now Los Angeles in his effort to bring form and function to the masses with an illuminating design under the guise of regular house hold item. The Abominable Dock Lamp, aka "Bringing Sexy Back to Charging".
Let's get to it shall we?
Hi Manny first before we get into the kickstarter tell us a bit about your background please?
Got a couple hours? (laughs).. I grew up in Los Angeles, CA, I am a 35 year old Mexican born, son of Mexicans, mix of Spanish, British, native mexican indian, persian and oh well you name it, it's probably there.
I love to Surf, Snowboard, Fish, Camp... basically anything that has to do with the outdoors except for hunting, Just not wired for hunting for some reason.
(I personally like long walks in the park and am a Sagitarius.)
I am the lucky mate of a beautiful Russian woman, (You win), and together we have 2 sons; Aiden Dante Nikita Kai Tenoch (4) and Keanu Tonatiuh Alva Micah Yuri (8 Months). Yes, each with five names, Long story, (Sure you don't have 2 hours?) anyway, they are currently the core of my existence, everything else is secondary.
I love making things, been a builder since I was a kid, a contractor for the past 12 years, a Manufacturing engineer before that, a restaurant server, dish washer, dj, musician, production coordinator, saw operator to name a few. I am pretty much a self taught woodworker, although my background in engineering helps quite a bit when it comes to making things. Love to read, write, and once and a while still make some music.
Talk to us about the origins of MonsterKraft, were you apart of it from the start?
Yes, I actually Founded MonsterKraft, Alex came on board shortly after and then Arturo. I had a construction business in Hawaii called The Mint Leaf Remodeling Company that in reality was hit very hard by the collapse of the market, so most of the work I had been doing for a while was in woodworking. When Keanu was conceived we knew we had to make a move back to the Mainland, living in Hawaii is amazing but the cost for quality education is too high, add that to the cost of living and well, the numbers don't work. When we decided we where going to make that move I knew that it was going to take a while to drum up some business here, and that a heavy investment was going to have to be made in to insurance, advertising, licensing, etc. Since I started making furniture mostly on commission for clients in Hawaii I started sketching Ideas that popped in my head for furniture and trinkets that I would eventually end up making for myself. Closing up shop in Hawaii and moving to CA provided the perfect timing for me to take some time to start making some pieces I always wanted to make before I packed up and shipped, because we had jobs that where still sitting on things like deliveries from other suppliers and really couldn't move forward on some things, and also because we weren't taking in any more work, it opened up time in my schedule.
I decided to start with all my upcyled designs so I wouldn't have to throw away all the scrap wood I had accumulated over the years, somewhere along the way someone told me I should try and market these, so it all quickly evolved in to a full on company, concept and Idea, something I had always wanted to do. MonsterKraft was born.
What are some of the designs or pieces you’ve all created?
The guys have a bunch of really cool Ideas for furniture and gadgets. For now, we are introducing MonsterKraft with the ADL series. I myself have quite a few projects on RND, but if I told you, I'd' have to shoot you (Laughs). (OH NOESSS!)
We will be opening up an Etsy shop soon which will feature bigger things like tables, beds, entertainment systems and shelving systems. You will also be able to check those out through our site directly. Most of my work is influenced by Asian, Japanese, and Swedish design, I guess that is how these weird designs pop up.
Was it hard to leave Hawaii?
Oh man, very, The last two years we were there we moved out to the country, where we were really able to connect with the local culture and become part of their Ohana (Family). That made leaving Hawaii very difficult. Had we not experienced the true, non commercialized beauty of the Hawaiian culture, it would have been much easier to go. All of my clients in Hawaii have become family as well, and leaving them was particularly hard.
You and MonsterKraft are very aesthetic conscious. Form and craft are important to you, for our readers who maybe are used to more of the printed page what do these aspects mean to you?
There is a saying that says "design is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful" by John Maeda. Just like designing a good logo can prove extremely challenging, any piece of design, wether it be something like a coaster or a complex rocking chair the language you use has to speak to you, it has to deliver emotion, either excitement, confusion, curiosity, pain, the piece. has to speak.
Form and Craft play big roles in achieving the language, they are the core of what design is all about. A piece that tells you nothing but, turn me on, or I am here for you to sit on me is just the same as your nearest utility pole, it's just there, it serves a purpose but that's all it is still just a utility pole.
Now about the kickstarter, what is your current crowd-funding campaign about?
The Abominable Dock Lamp is a series of lamps designed and made from Upcycled materials that features a 3 prong outlet and 2 usb connectors that are placed facing the rear of the base. They feature an interchangeable dock which is held on to the base with 2 rare earth magnets and is designed to be fitted with whichever cable your phone or tablet use for charging.
The aim of the campaign is to introduce the lamps to a wider audience and hopefully fund a mass production run of 1000 lamps per model. For some time now I have been frustrated about the amounts of plastic waste we are producing as a society and it's very frustrating to know that our culture is so invested in plastics and so dependent on it's use that reducing the consumption and waste is almost impossible without a significant cultural shift or breakthrough.
At MonsterKraft we know that changing and affecting policies surrounding plastic pollution is an almost impossible battle. But if we can affect demand through design we can make great strides in that direction. Kickstarter has the potential for creating enough noise and really placing a project like this in front of the eyes of many people. We hope that people will see that not everything needs to be made of plastic, that there is a rich un tapped source of materials we can use to make functional items without making the problem worse. The ADL has plastic parts in it, outlets cannot be made from something different right now because of conductivity issues. But if we can fund a solid production run, we can order mass quantities of these made from biodegradable plastics.
This campaign is about many things for us. The first is creating awareness, second funding a good production run and cleaning up some waste and carbon pollution, and the last is to jump start other design efforts to create environmentally friendly innovations that have good market potential.
IH: With the Abominable Dock Lamp, how’d you come up with the design?
I design in phases, with this series I started with the materials I wanted to use. You kinda have to work backwards when you're upcycling. Because of that, the design of the lamps constantly evolved until I was able to achieve a good design that packed the features I wanted it to with what I had.
The physical shapes are each inspired by different things, mainly natural. The Kumu for example is inspired by the channels on the Ko'olao Mountain range on Oahu that where created by erossion over millions of years, it is a shape that carries light, and it is named Kumu after Kumu Alva Andrews; who is a Hawaiian Lomi Master and a very close friend and spiritual mentor. He has a gentle beautiful soul but is firm as a mountain on his cultural beliefs and I tried to display that in the design of the lamp.
The Sunset as another example is designed after Hawaii's North Shore surf break that barrels during the winter swell season.
The Lomi which was my first completed lamp is designed after Kumu Alva's teachings about the body and the alignment of the shakras.
The foyer was pretty much one of those accidental things that happen. I was about to build another Kumu when I took the screen and set it on top of a base by accident and love the way it looked, so I decided to put that model together for use on shallow spaces as well.
Who came up with the name? I love it! (laughs).
I did... I don't want the reasons for the name to spoil it, I'd like everyone to find their own meaning behind the name. Some people out there will call it a design abomination, others may say different, who knows, so far, everyone has loved the lamps. I will however give a hint, look at our logo. Everything that we have done with MonsterKraft to date is conceptualized and tied together. We plan to release those stories as our campaign evolves to our backers.
What are some of the rewards that people can expect if they pledge?
Well we have all of the lamps available at 2 different prices depending on delivery date. The more expensive pledges are for a limited amount of lamps available for December delivery. The others will start shipping in January. We also have t-shirts, and trucker hats. We had reserved some surprise items for stretch goals which will be released if we hit our goal. We plan on displaying a backer wall on our webpage with everyone's name on it as well. Coming up with rewards is a tricky thing, but we hope we've offered enough incentives for people out there to come out and support us.
In a way, if we do end up making 1k of each model the reward to everyone is huge, we would have replaced quite a few plastic docking stations and lamps with something that was made on virtually zero emissions and actually reduced carbon and waist pollution. We hope the lamps are something people will keep in their homes forever. and if they do the impact would be even bigger.
Where do you all go from here once the kickstarter is finished? What’s next?
Well I know I am going to need a good 2 days of good solid sleep.... this thing is brutal. From there we get to work, either fulfilling orders for our campaign or taking on the next project. We know there are some people out there who want their lamp regardless of the outcome, so we will focus on that first and continue on work for other projects.
MonsterKraft and The Abominable Dock Lamp are here to stay and I hope everyone we've met so far stays connected. We also plan on launching a few other things to crowdfunding but we're going to take it one step at a time
Lastly Manny, where can everyone find you on the web?
You can find the abominable dock lamp on google search, here are all our links.
I hope you enjoyed this interview as I hope to have more features that focus not just w/ creators of the printed page and web comics but also with other artists and craftsmen that deal with the more than one plane of creativity. Enjoy your Egg Nog, spiced or otherwise, I'm still gonna be here, being the be all I can by w/ Indyness, J.M. Hunter/Indy Hunter