Follow Function

In 2005, my friend Steven Schranz and I began discussions regarding a potential business partnership. I had a few ideas about what kind of products I’d like to sell and he had already founded Lighters Direct (check it out if you need high quality lighters and accessories!).

I had earned my BS in Product Design the year before, and I was excited about some of the new, modern designers I had discovered.   Follow Function became an online store for modern goods.  To explain more, I’m going to copy and paste from the “About Us” section I wrote way back in the day:

In the spring of 2005 I (Jeff) was perusing a popular design blog and I saw an article about an incredible product called Automoblox. It was well designed, it was fun, and it was brilliant. Then I read another article, this one about a design firm called Mint. The products erupting from this place were also well designed, fun, and brilliant. I said to myself, “Self, this is the type of stuff you should be spreading across the globe.”

I called up Steven and said “Steven, look at this here stuff. It’s pretty awesome. We should sell it.” Steven was already the proprietor of a successful online store and he said to me: “Jeff, that’s a good idea. Lets put together a massive spreadsheet detailing every product we would like to bring to the people of Earth, and then narrow that list down to a few of our favorites.” So we did.

With my discerning eye and Steven’s business sense, we combined our powers like Voltron and gave birth to Follow Function LLC.

Our criteria for selecting quality products was threefold:

  • Is it well designed? And by “well”, we mean “very, very well”. Can you see the imprint of that designer’s personality on each product? Is it clever? Is that designer exploding with talent?
  • Does it separate itself from others like it? Maybe its because the product ships flat and blossoms into an unbelievable lamp (see MIO culture’s ‘Bendant’). Maybe its because the geometry of the objects interact in such a way that you just have to reach out and touch it (see Mint’s ‘Hug Salt and Pepper Shaker’).
  • Is it reasonably priced? We love good design, but we have a problem paying a ridiculous amount of money for it. We also don’t really like shelling out the dough for shipping charges. If you look around you can find stuff that ships flat, stacks, or is small enough to fit in a reasonably sized box.

But wait, there’s more! As a professional industrial designer, I found that virtually no one outside the design world had any clue what defined the term “industrial design”. Usually, this meant that few people knew what good design was or how to look for it.

So part of our duty here is to educate folks on what exactly is good design. Therefore, it is our pleasure to bring you the story behind each product we sell. We interviewed or studied each designer and their products in order to gain a better understanding of what it is that lives in our homes.

In 2009, we decided Follow Function would have a better chance for growth in someone else’s hands.  This is code for “it was still a side project and we just didn’t have the time to dedicate to it anymore”.  We were happy to sell the company to Wholesale Furniture Brokers.

This is the Follow Function home page as I designed it back in 2005.

I changed out the bottom banner frequently, depending on the season and whatever special offers we were promoting. I eventually developed a style using images of our actual products as repeating graphical elements.

 

Jeff Benzenberg

Jeff Benzenberg is a designer and marketer living in Columbus, Ohio. He's spent the last nine years at eRetailing, and now heads up the marketing and design teams there. He like movies about time travel and songs about shipwrecks. SoapFusion is his personal website.