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Personal Growth

DoubleButter: Guerilla Tactics

Industrial design duo DoubleButter break down the necessity of maniacal focus and looking bigger than your britches.


DoubleButter is David Larabee and Dexter Thornton. The furniture they design and build out of their small Denver, Colorado workshop maintains a clean, modern aesthetic without being cold or institutional; their recent DoubleButter Guerilla campaign drew masses of attention to the oversight of developers when choosing to outsource the architectural contracts for the Denver Art Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art instead of looking to the many local, highly talented designers by installing benches the pair had designed and built outside of both buildings…into the pavement. Behance caught up with the pair to hear about confidence versus cockiness, in-house collaboration and being small fish in a big pond.

Taking both success and failure in stride is key to the further development of their pieces and business. “The focus is always on the work. Trite, maybe, but true. The built pieces and the design ideas they represent are the whole point of our efforts. The tedium – planing, sanding, grinding, bending – is always there but it’s easy to keep the point of the task in mind because we’re building work of our own designs. Even when a specific idea fails, and they do often enough, we usually learn something revelatory from the failure and that gets us focused on the next iteration. Our first bent-steel tables danced like a raver – the fix led to a new-look leg system that we’ve been exploiting ever since. If the goal is to build a better table, you keep at it maniacally until the table is better.”

Total commitment to their work forms not only the backbone of their creative process, but shapes their daily lives in and out of the workshop. “We spend roughly half of each day throwing some slobbery toy or another for our relentless shop retriever, Cinder, and the other half making it up as we go. Somehow, the deadlines get met and the work gets done. Truth is, we like what we do and we’d be doing it just as intently if there weren’t deadlines and clients. Our apartments are full of the stuff we made just because we wanted to make it.” The desire to create truly original pieces motivates them even further. “Because we don’t build anyone else’s designs – ever – we’re excited to see the finished pieces and that excitement seems to keep us on task. Plus, we tell everyone they’ll get their pieces within 6-8 weeks and we don’t want to have the first “I’m sorry but you’re going to have to wait” conversation. Maybe we’re just chickens.”

Build an identity that looks serious and polished enough to obscure your pathetic situation and greet the world with total cockiness.

A solid body of work accompanied by an almost hubristic attitude allows DoubleButter to work on a smaller production level, maintaining a tenacious identity which conveys anything but a two-man operation. “This must be true in many other design fields, probably more so every day, but breaking into the furniture world as two guys with a ramshackle shop is a silly thing to try to do.  No one knows who you are and why your work costs what it does; no one is really sure why they shouldn’t just go to Room and Board or DWR or some idiot big box; and because you have no real bona fides, very few people trust their taste enough to open the wallet if they like the work you do.  How do you overcome that and all the rest? Build an identity that looks serious and polished enough to obscure your pathetic situation and greet the world with total cockiness. We know our shit is the bomb; if you don’t, that’s your problem.”

Collaboration is an element which permeates every ounce of their enterprise. “DoubleButter is better. Really. We’re better off and we do better work because we collaborate on every new design. It’s like peanut butter and regular butter on your English muffin: the regular butter lubes up the sticky, pasty peanut butter and the peanut butter gives the regular butter a little more spine. Well, collaboration is just like that. And as for inspiration, there’s only so much you can do (or that you want to do) with the tools we have and the materials we use. They are inspiration enough. The bent steel pieces came from our having a bender and strip steel and knowing what the two do together. From that, we take the idea of a lounge chair that needs to be somewhere between totally rigid and a full-out rocker and figure out what combination of steel and air will achieve it while still looking totally hot and feeling like you never want to stand up again. To answer those last bits we fall back on the DoubleButter – sometimes you need to add more peanut butter and sometimes you need to add more regular butter.”

At the end of the day, their objectives — like their furniture — are simple, clean and focused. “We want to build great furniture and maybe build great houses. Trying to do that seems like it might be interesting enough for a lifetime’s work. Oh yeah, and we want to ensure that every human being on the whole planet has at least two, no three, DoubleButter pieces and that they swear fealty to us before going off to sleep at night on a wicked cool Surfboy platform bed.”

Comments (2)
  • nicklausdeyring

    Doublebutter needs to furnish my entire house. That’d make it better. Love their messaging!

  • Platform Beds

    Very nice furniture design.

  • Contemporary Furniture

    Great article! Seems that their service is great.

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