MEET THE FIND: Dan Black Co-Founder of Black+Blum

Black + Blum are passionate about creating beautiful, original designs which are underpinned with functionality. They have a unique taste and this shows through in the varying aesthetics of their products. Black & Blum proudly design in house but also collaborate with the most talented designers worldwide to bring the finest and most beautiful products to market.
  • Tell us about your brand and how you came about?

D: Martin Blum and I met while studying product design at Northumbria
university. We’d always dreamed of making our own products and started the company a year after graduating in 1998. Black+Blum has been designing products ever since. We started with a range of lighting, but also ventured into fans, barbecues, candelabra and kitchenware, to take just some of the products we have worked on over the years.

  • What’s your biggest challenge as a brand?

D: Communicating the thought and functionality behind each design. There are many companies in our sector who simply buy an existing product and put their logo on it. This is not what we do. We literally start with a blank piece of paper and create our products from scratch with huge amounts of passion, creativity and integrity.

The process normally takes two years, from initial idea, through to reaching an end customer. When customers see a design for the first time in a store or online, the window of focus / concentration on it is often very short and there needs to be an initial spark of interest / love and also understanding. The challenge is that some details or elements of functionality are only discovered by the customer, after they have bought the product. We need to take this into consideration when designing new products and this represents a big challenge.

    • Tell us your favourite quote, mantra or best piece of advice

    There are a few – ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ KISS. Sometimes the simplest designs are the best, but the challenge is keeping a design simple.

    ‘Measure twice, cut one’. Never assume anything and always double check everything.

    • Tell us your proudest moment as a business

    D: We have won some lovely design awards over the years, but the proudest moment is always in relation to getting the reaction to a new design, where people see a new product for the first time and say they love it… to get a reaction like this from a new concept is always a great feeling and is what drives us on to try and do it again with every new design.

    • Who is your hero?

    D: Yvonne Chouinard who started Patagonia. He is an American rock climber, surfer, kayaker, environmentalist, and outdoor industry billionaire businessman. His company is an extension of his own life and standards. No corners are cut and the way he has led his life and his business are a complete inspiration.

    • What is your THE FIND?

    D: I love the Eau Carafe. The simple but practical form of the hand blown glass carafe and functional no nonsense cork stopper. It has a very iconic elegant form that is so practical to lift and pour from. I have two at home that I keep in our fridge that my family and I use every day. Whenever we have a dinner party, we always put them out on the table and the charcoal is always a talking point and everyone who tries them always comment on how great the Binchotan charcoal filtered water tastes.

    • What product do you wish you'd invented?

    D: There are lots, but it would have to be something I use regularly. I love looking in antique shops. There are always so many thinks to look at and find inspiration from. I have an early Victorian silver and glass marmalade jar. It might not sound very exciting, but the handle has a cantilever mechanism, so when you rotate it, it pushes up the lid. So simple and clever, but it makes me smile every time I use it.

    • What's your best beauty or life hack?

    D: It might sound obvious but drinking more water is my general life hack. I don’t naturally drink enough water and considering I design water bottles, I have no excuse. But I know that when I am hydrated properly and drinking enough, I feel so much better and focus so much more at whatever I am doing. Staying hydrated when doing long haul flights is definitely a must.

    • What is your favourite place to hideaway?

    D: Southwold and Walberswick on the Suffolk coast. We’ve been going there as a family for many years and love it. It isn’t smart, but there are lovely beaches (with the old traditional beach huts that we always rent), amazing coastal walks, traditional fish and chip restaurants and cosy pubs. There is no guarantee of sunshine, but it is the perfect getaway if you have young children and dogs.

    • What's your biggest extravagance?

    D: A good sketch book as I get through them pretty quickly. I am continually sketching ideas. They won’t mean much to anyone who looks at them, but I love always having a nice sketch book to jot ideas and thoughts in.

    Now, let’s FIND Out About You

    • Wellies or Flip-Flops
    • Bubble Bath or Hot Shower
    • Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter
    • Shave or Beard - it changes
    • Cinema or Theatre - both
    • Paperback or Kindle
    • Yoga or Run
    • Pressed Juice or Cocktail
    • Serums or Oils - ?

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