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Sustainable Practices Meet Sea-Inspired Products

05.14.2018
By Adrian Thompson

David Trubridge. Photo: Ben PearceSustainability is a prime focus for the David Trubridge Ltd facility located in Whakatu, New Zealand—planting fruit trees, recycling factory waste, using renewable energy, and allowing locals to tend to beehives on the property are just a few of the ways in which employees practice environmentally friendly efforts. This is because designer and maker David Trubridge, founder of David Trubridge Ltd, has had a long-standing passion for nature and the environment.

This commitment, deepened by Trubridge’s naval architecture background and years of sailing the Caribbean and Pacific, is reflected in his products and company, both of which are driven by a strong environmentally conscious philosophy. His organization is proud to hold Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), and his furniture and light fixtures hold close connections to the sea and other inspirations he finds in nature.

In the latest edition of interiors+sources’ Maker Monday series, learn more about David Trubridge and how his inspiration blends with his thoughts on the future of interior design.

interiors+sources: How did you get your start?

David Trubridge: My big break was when I took one furniture piece, Body Raft, to the Milan Furniture Fair in 2001. Giulio Cappellini walked into my stand and signed it up to their collection then and there. That kept me busy for a few years while I developed new designs and later my lighting.

i+s: What inspires you?

DT: Nature and art.

This light’s geometric hexagonal pattern is based on a snowflake and was designed after Trubridge visited Antarctica.
This light’s geometric hexagonal pattern is based on a snowflake and was designed after Trubridge visited Antarctica. Photo: Kengoshima

i+s: What is the hardest part of the creative process?

DT: The first part, looking for an idea. But you can’t will creativity—you have to know the conditions in which it is most likely to happen for you—sit there and wait. It also makes a massive difference to me if I have a reason to design, such as telling a story. I have a lot of trouble just doing a new design for the sake of it. What makes all this investment of creative energy worthwhile?

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i+s: What is your favorite thing in your working environment?

DT: Our factory garden where I can grab an apple or guava fresh off the tree when I'm puckish…or is it the coffee machine? 

i+s: Do you have any rituals for getting out of a design rut?

DT: Spending days on end at my small beach in Mahanga (Mahia), out on the sea or walking the hills, not thinking about design. Our lives are far too pressured by clutter and routine, both of which inhibit the free-ranging process of creativity.

i+s: What’s your favorite color?

DT: The dazzling Bahamas blue of shallow sea over white sand, stretching to the horizon.

The Navicula fixture is derived from nature and has a distinct shadow.
The Navicula fixture is derived from nature and has a distinct shadow. Photo: Ben Pearce

i+s: What is your favorite design era?

DT: Right now—I don’t do nostalgia or reliving the past. That is not to put any of it down; it is to say that we live in the 21st century.

i+s: Who has helped you realize your dreams?

DT: My wife and family. My great staff, many of whom have been with me for more than ten years. I've been fortunate that the right people have joined me at the right time. Our company is lucky to have some amazing distributors worldwide who have worked very hard to build our sales globally. Also, early on in my career when I was a one-man business, I had a great network of clients who believed in what I was doing; I still keep in touch with some of them.

i+s: What do you think is next for the interior design industry?

DT: I hope there will be a slowing down of trends and replaceable items. We don't need to keep re-inventing what interior design is. There are themes and styles that are timeless and our homes should be compiled through careful and meaningful collecting. Office interiors are possibly worst with frequent refits. This amount of waste concerns me. I'd like to see new standards in place for recyclable commercial fittings for this reason. Choose what you like and live with it, not what the style tribe tells you should have, which will be different next year.

i+s: From what career or personal mistake have you learned the most?

DT: There is no such thing as a mistake (unless it is really stupid and unnecessary). Everything considered that you do you believe in. Some things turn out better than others but from every one you learn something and that is the most important.

i+s: What’s next for you?

DT: We have a few new ranges coming out for our collection and we have some larger custom jobs coming through in my design studio. Personally, I am really enjoying designing and making boats, especially plywood SUP boards, which reverts to my university training as a naval architect.

i+s: Where can people find your goods?

DT: All across the world in carefully selected design stores and on our website davidtrubridge.com (where they are all listed).

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