INSIGHTS - THE MAKING OF THE RIBBON COAT RACK

THE PRODUCT

The Ribbon coat rack is a contemporary, designer, wall-mounted coat rack that is designed to be a practical, family-friendly storage solution when in use but also beautiful, sculptural wall art in its own right.

 

INSPIRATION AND THE DESIGN

When we began to design the Ribbon we knew we wanted to create something new and different, something that our customers would delight in and be proud to display in their homes. Like everything we design at HeadSprung we wanted to create a product that afforded the same utilitarian functionality of cheaper, boring coat racks but that expressed a unique aesthetic that differentiated it from the market.

We played around with a number of ideas, but the ‘Eureka’ moment came when our Creative Director, Hemal Patel, was watching the Rhythmic Gymnastics event at the 2008 Olympics. As he watched a gymnast toss, catch and twirl a ribbon he was mesmerised by the smooth, fluid, fleeting shapes that the ribbon made as it fluttered in the air. Over the following days these images could not escape his mind, and the more he thought of the ribbon’s loops and swirls the more he realised he could capture it’s beauty and dynamism in the form of a coat rack.

So we set to work and after creating numerous 1:1 scale models we settled on a shape that would be practical in its use, but also looked like a snapshot of a ribbon blowing in the wind. The master model was made of a thin plastic strip which we had bent and fixed into shape. It was fragile and imperfect, but it was enough for proof of concept and it was enough to brief our supplier for production purposes.

 

PRODUCTION

We quickly determined that the Ribbon coat rack could only economically be made by hand. This presented some pros and cons in the manufacturing process. On the one hand, having the item made by hand meant we would have more flexibility in the shapes we wanted to achieve. On the other hand, it meant we would be restricted by the strength and skill of the craftsmen, and the volumes they could produce.

Undeterred, we travelled to India and spent several weeks scouting for craftsmen and artisans who could make the Ribbon with the level of skill and expertise we required. After much searching we found suitable partners with whom we began to work. We proceeded by first creating the moulds for the coat rack. We had to make one mould for each feature of the rack, meaning over 12 moulds had to be made. We then had to perfect the manufacturing process to make it as repeatable and consistent as possible. After much time, effort and rework we settled on a system which we still use to this day. It is as follows:

1. We cut a metal sheet into strips that are the required width and length for the Ribbon or Mini Ribbon coat racks.
2. We deburr the edges of each metal strip.
3. We round off the ends of the coat racks by using a stamping press.
4. We measure and mark the location of the first feature we are going to bend with chalk.

Measuring and marking the first feature to be bent on the Mini Ribbon coat rack

5. We set up the first mould and then we manually bend the strip around it to form the shape of the first feature.

Setting up the first mould for bending the Mini Ribbon coat rack

Completion of the first feature in the making of the Mini Ribbon coat rack
6. We repeat the above step for every strip in the batch.
7. We remove the first mould and set up the second mould.
8. We mark the location of the next feature with chalk, and then bend the strip around the mould to form the required shape.

Completion of the first feature of the Mini Ribbon coat rack
9. We repeat the above step for every strip in the batch.
10. We repeat steps 3-7 for the remaining features of the coat rack, for every strip.

Nearly completed Mini Ribbon coat rack

11. We drill and countersink the screw holes. At this stage the fabrication process is complete.

Completed Mini Ribbon coat rack (except for the screw holes)
12. The units are inspected for quality. Our personnel look at the shape and state of the bent metal.
13. Next, we pretreat the strips to degrease and clean them, and to prepare their surfaces for the powder coat paint.
14. We powder coat the Ribbons and screws in the required colours.
15. Every unit goes through quality control for inspection of the shape and powder coating finish.
16. The units are packed and shipped.


As you can see, the production process for the Ribbon coat rack is a long and laborious one that requires care, attention and craftsmanship. In fact, we believe it is this fastidious attention to detail, combined with the aesthetics and functionality of the product, that make it so compelling to home improvers, interior decorators and the design savvy.  Check out the finished product here to make up your own mind: Ribbon coat rack and Mini Ribbon coat rack.




Hemal Patel
Hemal Patel

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