Because We Can LLC: Designers

Because We Can LLC: Designers

May 30, 2007

Jillian Northrup and Jeffrey McGrew introduced us to the word "googie." Googie refers to that retro Jetsons style you now see mostly represented by well-preserved roadside signs in Southern California, and which now appears "timeless rather than futuristic." It's also one of the funkily up-to-the-minute vernaculars and themes in which these flamboyant designers (and their adventurous clients) will work. Others include "Victorian Submarine," "Gothic yet Comic-Book," Art Deco, and Film Noir.

Northrup and McGrew are a wildly creative husband and wife team who work out of a West Oakland production shop. They do a host of creative things in that space, including product design, building design, furniture design, and interior build-outs, using digital design tools and the latest CNC fabrication techniques.

We heard about them because of their presentation at the Maker Faire, in which the pair demonstrated their technique for carving elaborate shapes out of wood. We're guessing that their company name expresses some of the felicity this mastery over materials affords an artist. In other words, why carve a 2-D table pedestal in the shape of a squirrel-inhabited tree? Because We Can.

Or for that matter, why collaborate with Evil Mad Scientists to create an interactive LED table that's the furniture equivalent of fairy dust? Because it's fun. The Wave is an interactive table that uses 32 active and passive near-infrared optical sensors to respond to motion and ambient light changes in its environment. Either one (or both) will trigger ripples of light across the surface, which is embedded with 480 superbright white LEDs.

Although Because We Can seems to thrive on the creative challenge of designing and building out an entire set-like environment, they also do small scale custom work for residences and are now selling a handful of extremely charming, well-priced, and greenly-fabricated production line pieces through their online store.

We're almost tempted to redesign our whole living room just to make a proper home for the Tree Stump Table. Or maybe we'll just settle for a buckwheat husk-filled robot laptop desk.
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