Seattle is synonymous with grunge, coffee and computer nerds. This might also explain why a talented Seattle-based product designer like Peter Bristol would be best known for his designs for high-tech hardware for Microsoft or even more niche designs for specialised medical equipment.
But, as his Clip Bag or Training Dresser designs show, he’s equally at home when designing for domestic use.
The Training Dresser, using the stark, simple language of graphic design, is chest of drawers that is a both playful and educational item of household furniture meant to fulfill the practical function of clothing storage while simultaneously training the young owners in the essential developmental skill of dressing. Of course, Peter can’t be held responsible for whatever choices the parents of the little tykes make about what goes inside, which we all realise plays a key role in formative tastes. We can only hope that since they will have had the good taste to acquire such a handsome piece of furniture for their kids, that same good taste extends into what they choose to put inside it for their children to wear.
By contrast, the Clip Bag, plays with the globally recognisable form a paper clip (or clamp) to create a playful accessory for a woman more concerned with sassy visual puns than this season’s fashion dictats.
Peter Bristol’s designs for domestic items to date range from a stark corner-mounted wall light for Established & Sons to the design gag that is Cut Chair, a chair that appears to be wholly unsuited to supporting the posterior of a human being whilst actually being entirely stable. What is notable about these designs is that they all share a certain aesthetic sensibility that appears to have crossed over from his designs for more overtly technological items. They are all stark, sleek – perhaps even a little clinical– and without any unnecessary decoration. However, their simple forms could be deceiving: all are made to exacting technical specifications using durable and versatile materials.
Save for the humour that floats almost irrepressibly to the surface in a number of his designs, you might even go as far as to say his is a domestic aesthetic firmly grounded in the tenets of good industrial design that prizes the necessary relationship between form and function above all else.