Meet the Maker: Drew Waters of Handcrafted Coops

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Drew Waters has a goal of seeing a chicken coop in every back yard. To make that happen, Drew has introduced a flat pack coop with the urban chicken farmer in mind. As part of our Meet the Maker series, Drew answers questions about his inspiration, his background and the one item he wishes he had designed...

Name: Drew Waters, Handcrafted Coops
Location: Brooklyn, New York

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Melbourne, Australia. Like many Australians I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve been living in New York for the past 10 years.

Where did you study/train? I studied Film and Theater in Melbourne, Australia. 
I worked for many years in Theater Stage Design where I learned the nuts and bolts of construction and working fast to put ideas into form. At night I studied at the Melbourne School of Woodwork and made furniture and designed one-off pieces.

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What was the first thing you made and sold? I made a tall, leaning Grandfather clock inspired by German Expressionism. It was a very sculptural piece. I sold it at a Fringe Furniture Show in Melbourne.

Who is your design idol? I don’t have a particular idol but the modernist ideas coming out of the Bauhaus are definitely an influence. I’m interested in product design that has at its core a kind of longevity, the creation of classic forms that have a functional basis - the Hills Hoist Clothes Line (an Australian icon), the Thonet Bentwood Chair, a Wusthof Cook’s Knife. IKEA has been a big influence in creating something that is very deliverable. When I designed the Portable Chicken Coop I knew for it to be successful it had to be made in a flat-packed kit form to allow for more widespread distribution and simple assembly. I know there’s a lot of ambivalence towards IKEA in the design world, but they are definitely delivering better design to a wider group of people. (The longevity side, they can probably improve on).

Where do you find inspiration? I’m a pretty quiet person, I spend a lot of time observing things. Ideas and objects that inspire me have a kind of timelessness about them, they’ve been well thought out, not faddish. I go regularly to Art galleries, I look at a lot of Design and Photo Books, online one of my favorite sites is FFFFOUND.

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What’s one thing you wish YOU had made or designed? The iPod classic - it just fits so beautifully into the hand, it is elegant and simple and nothing about it is superfluous. Even through all of its revisions and changes it has maintained that elegance.

What’s your advice for a designer/maker just starting out? I feel like I still have so much to learn, but I would say find a physical space where you can spend some time alone and push forward your ideas. Carry a notebook to write down and sketch your inspirations – they come at inopportune moments. Design is only one small piece of the puzzle. Without the right marketing ideas, business model, distribution model, supply chain and business system, a product’s life span will be short-lived. You need to get these other pieces sorted for your designs to work commercially. If you are not accomplished with web design and marketing, find people who are and ask them to help you. A lot of the work lies in communicating the essence and functionality of your product.

See more of Drew's works at Handcrafted Coops.

(Images: Handcrafted Coops.)

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