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Good Thing

Good Thing shares the story behind their objects of remarkable use

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Good Thing

Published 2015.07.09

There’s something special about art you can use. Jamie Wolfond and Sam Anderson, partners behind Brooklyn-based design studio Good Thing, take this to heart. They transform the mundane into something unique, appealing, and innovative. Good Thing’s products are functional yet simple, innovative yet affordable, serving a variety of practical household and office uses. Good Thing has appeared in such notable publications as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Dwell Magazine, Sight Unseen, and Jalouse Magazine, amongst others.


Featured Products


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General Bucket, Bowl & Tray
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Sticker Clock (Special)

Good Thing
Sticker Clock - Special Edition

Objects with Remarkable Use

Good Thing began with the idea that good design demands a profound understanding of materials and processes, of exploration and discovery. The partners practise what they call “designing backwards”: working within the manufacturers’ strengths and limitations to dictate the ultimate product design.

“We produce it in order to design it; we have a conversation with the people who are making it before we start to brainstorm ideas.”

As Wolfond explains, “We produce it in order to design it; we have a conversation with the people who are making it before we start to brainstorm. The idea of a single auteur-designer sitting in a room is just not realistic; it takes so many people to bring one of these projects to life.”

Goodthing product tray large artist vinnieneuberg

General Tray (Artist Edition)

Good Thing
General Tray (Artist Edition) By: Vinnie Neuberg

“This collaborative spirit extends to all levels of our work at Good Thing. In addition to our in-house design efforts, we select up-and-coming artists and designers who share our ambition and offer a unique perspective.”
— Jamie Wolfond

Ultimately, however, both of Good Thing’s partners recognise the importance of setting priorities and then following them. “We’re not minimalist by any stretch of the imagination,” says Anderson.

“We’re very practical. I guess we’re unpretentious, and that’s something you can see in our products.”

“We’re very practical. I guess we’re unpretentious, and that’s something you can see in our products.” Rather than creating untouchable works that sit on shelves, gathering dust, Good Thing produces usable designs, purposeful items meant to be used and enjoyed: accessible products that establish a strong connection with their users.

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Good Thing General Bowl in manufacturing

It takes a bit of psychology for the duo to accomplish this, a challenge they welcome. By studying a product’s utility, breaking it down into components and then rebuilding in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing, Good Thing creates works that mean different things to different people, while still serving a common purpose.

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Good Thing General Tray in manufacturing
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Field Candlestick Spectrum paint
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Paper display mold
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Utility Mirror

Good Thing
Utility Mirror in yellow

Start with the Result

Unlike other studios that design first and manufacture later, Good Thing operates on the belief that collaboration, not command, is best. As such, their process includes consultation with the manufacturer and an assessment of its capabilities before the design is finalised and sent off for production—in other words, bringing the manufacturer into the design process.

“The most basic things we understand from working with those materials inform and change how we design.”

“I realised that I could build a company around the idea of backwards design,” says Wolfond. “It’s not only a great way to make interesting objects that communicate their manufacturing method, but also a terrific approach to establishing relationships with local producers.”

Good thing products money shot 2
“We believe the experience with the material and the object can bring a consumer closer to the product, and also to the people who designed it.” - Jamie Wolfond & Sam Anderson
Jamie Wolfond & Sam Anderson
Goodthing product easymirror copper 01

Easy Copper Mirror

Good Thing
Easy Copper Mirror

The poetic and minimal Easy Mirror, one of Good Thing’s first ever products is now available in polished copper. This elegant version is made by plating a piece of steel in copper and hand-buffing it to a mirror finish.

The process is multi-layered: First: Observing and discovering the small things with an eye toward the potential for something interesting, something unique. Second: A careful analysis of a product’s qualities, both current state and as envisioned by Wolfond and Anderson. Third: Calling manufacturers and asking what defines such a product, why it is assembled as it is, and how Good Thing can improve upon it. “We reach out to the people who are making it,” explains Wolfond, “and use their strengths to mold the products into what they can be.” Fourth: Sketching, modelling, testing, conceptualizing, and prototyping, repeating as necessary. Ultimately, it’s about discovering little details in existing processes and manipulating them to create new things.

Good Thing’s designers are drawn to materials—specifically, their personal experiences with and enjoyment of wood, metal, ceramic, and plastic. Says Anderson, “The most basic things we understand from working with those materials inform and change how we design.” Espousing clarity and transparency in the studio’s works, she notes, “When you use or look at a Good Thing product, you understand why it is the way it is.”

Failing Forward

Although Jamie Wolfond is originally from Toronto, both he and Sam Anderson count Brooklyn as home these days. The two met at the Rhode Island School of Design, he studying product design and she product and furniture design, and soon decided to collaborate—both personally and professionally. In launching Good Thing, founding partner Wolfond addressed the challenge of producing affordable products locally, bridging the gap between design and production.

“When you use or look at a Good Thing product, you understand why it is the way it is.”

As a result, the studio is able to link America’s most innovative young designers with domestic vendors, and subsequently connect consumers with creative, functional, and reasonably priced designs.

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Field Candlesticks

Good Thing
Field Candlestick in Blue

Wolfond’s creative interests lie in form: materials, patterns, colours, and the physics of design and manufacturing. Anderson, by comparison, draws upon colour and texture to conceptualise lighting and tableware; she is continually exploring the impact of innovative craft practices on traditional models of production. “The company is built as a response to the way we like to work,” notes Wolfond. “It’s physical, direct, and not often theoretical. I don’t like the idea of designing something that is presumably for production without knowing the constraints of the producer.

“I realised,” he adds, “that I love and am fascinated by manufacturing systems”

“The company is built as a response to the way we like to work. It’s physical, direct, and not often theoretical.”

Anderson reiterates the importance for transparency and clarity in design. “When you use our product or look at it, you understand why it is the way it is.” Rather than base their creations on assumptions, the designers immerse themselves in their products: materials, processes, people, and experiences. “We’re pretty physical makers,” she continues. “We like to work with our hands.” As such, Good Thing’s designs are the product of exploring materials, turning parts over to discover how they fit together: Software need not apply.

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Field candle sticks

Good Thing’s designers are drawn to materials—specifically, their personal experiences with and enjoyment of wood, metal, ceramic, and plastic. Says Anderson, “The most basic things we understand from working with those materials inform and change how we design.” Espousing clarity and transparency in the studio’s works, she notes, “When you use or look at a Good Thing product, you understand why it is the way it is.”

“When you use or look at a Good Thing product, you understand why it is the way it is.”

As Wolfond concludes, “Failing is a really important part of any creative process, of course. But in designing backwards, this is not only a part of the process that you tolerate or get used to: It is the feedback you get every time something fails that leads to the positive result.”

This is the end of Good Thing’s story
Photos credits: Good Thing & Alyssa Kirsten Photography

Good Thing

Objects of remarkable use


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