Serendipity led Seth Grizzle and Jonathan Junker to one another when they met at Kent State University more than ten years ago wearing the same pair of gray pants. In 2007, they dared to wear their gray pants once again, in a partnership to launch their architecture and design studio Graypants.
The Seattle-based studio has since released numerous products for the North American and European markets. Their newest product Murmurations appeared at the 2015 Design Week in Milan and will be available for purchase in May.
All you need to know about Graypants
Murmurations debuted as an installation of 500 LED light fixtures with a cardboard shade bottom. The image that led to the light’s design was that of starling flocks flying together, forming a mass of blackness that wheels, turns and swoops in unison. The product also depicts the movement and change one sees while walking around a static object, where the light represents the tipping point of transformation. They will be available with customizable cardboard or glass bases.
Designer Jonathan Junker explained to ArchiExpo the potential in using cardboard:
"Cardboard was all about taking an everyday abundant, seemingly boring material and just exposing the beautiful part of it. It is extremely durable and you can almost push it to the point where you no longer recognize it as a piece of cardboard, you suddenly recognize it as a beautiful object. That plays into our overall approach. Using more natural materials and then constantly playing with them and seeing how far we can take them to see what happens."
The studio’s kick-off began with their use of cardboard, and on accident. The ‘accident’ occurred during a 2007 sustainable chair contest with Graypants’ line of pendant lights called Scraplights. Scraplights are handcrafted from recycled cardboard, assembled using nontoxic adhesive then treated with environmentally friendly fire retardant. They come in twenty-four different shapes the moon, a bell, teardrop and disc. Scraplights became the first product that allowed Graypants to grow as a business, exemplifying the company's principles of responsible design, materials, production and handmade craft.
European demand enabled them to found their Amsterdam studio in 2012, which produces and distributes to over forty countries. Though the Amsterdam studio handles production and distribution, Seattle is where new designs and prototypes are tested. Graypants' main clients include restaurants, architecture firms, interior designers and offices. Other products include steel framed Kerflights, corrugated cardboard floating shelves Dash Floating Shelf, a solid aluminum Ice Press, and Step-Pack Steplight pendant lights which are machined from a single sheet of aluminum and assembled by the purchaser using the packaging.
Graypants is installing a custom-built 25-meter-long light for the Nordstrom in Seattle in May, and built a custom ceiling (a series of perforated metal panels backed with LED lights that descend like chandeliers) for the main lobby of Amazon's Seattle headquarters. A year ago they finished The Garage, a full service architecture project which won them the 2013 AIA Seattle Honor Award the 2014 Residential Architecture Design Award and the 2014 Copper in Architecture Award.
"A lot of our projects fall into that world in between product design and architecture, which is really fun."