how to move from an idea to a circular brand : DesignWanted

In 2019, Alessandro Stabile and Martinelli Venezia Studio OTO, also known as 1:1, created one on one: a Injection molded plastic chairprinted with recycled industrial plasticlightweight yet sturdy and Delivered flat packedall elements can be easily assembled by the user without tools.

When it was first presented

OTO was a good prototype. Four years later, this has become a real closed-loop business,

created and run by two design studios starting from this original product design idea and officially unveiled at Milan Design Week 2023. With the support of an investor, of course.

How did this happen? What characteristics and qualities should a concept have in order to make it the starting point for a company?

1. A strong story

The story OTO tells is simple, clear and strong: it is not (only) the material used that makes a product sustainable, but the way it is designed, produced, built, shipped and ultimately recycled.

The OTO chair _ how to go from an idea to a circular brand
The first prototype of the OTO chair, called 1:1: Flat-Pack, made with plastic joints holding all the pieces together

The OTO project grew out of the choice of plastic: Martinelli Venezia and Alessandro Stabile wanted designers to re-evaluate plastic and send the message that they are the real problem is not the material itself, but the use we make of it.

For us, all objects that are communicated with labels such as “organic” are “sustainable”; “Green”; “plastic-free” etc., focusing only on the material used.

However, the reality is very different, because to be truly sustainable, an object must be designed and built for the circular economy: minimizing resource consumption (during production, shipping, use), built to last and easy to recycle assemble and disassemble.

In order to avoid further production of unnecessary material, the designers, in turn, decided to do it Use industrially recycled plastic. And to connect her business to an Italian start-up called Ogyre, which collects plastic from the sea. Part of the proceeds from the sale of OTO goes to Ogyre: for every two OTO chairs sold, 1 kg of marine litter is collected.

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2. A sleek, clever design

OTO’s design idea is very clear: to make a chair out of elements that need to be put together, all coming together from a single, small mould.

The first prototype of the OTO chair, called 1:1: Flat-Pack, made with plastic joints holding all the pieces together
The OTO chair in the cellulose packaging

The concept underlying the OTO chair – hence its name One To One – comes from scale models: the miniature objects made of plastic parts that children used to play with and assemble.

Once very trendy, they were designed for age groups and made in different sizes. However, their real specialty lay in the parts that made them up anchored to a plastic grid with connectors that had to be broken to put them together.

Alessandro Stabile and Martinelli Venezia inherited the lattice concept from these miniature models: the original chair was to be printed in one element that would later be disassembled into different parts. However, during the development of the mold, the lattice became brittle and also resulted in wastage of plastic.

The elements that make up the first 1:1 chair. The overall design of each element has remained the same, while the joints of the lattice are no longer present in the production piece

For these reasons, the design was changed to eliminate the fasteners.

However, the arrangement of the chair parts in the mold remained the same: the elements of the chair come out in a single block of plastic.

3. A clear communication of characteristics and the search for an emotional bond

The main quality of the chair is reflected in the packaging, which is made from recycled pulp.

To be effective and to clarify the product and the production characteristics, Alessandro Stabile and Martinelli Venezia decided to also print them on the cellulose packaging.

The packaging made from recycled pulp that reflects the design of the chair

This is also another feature that comes from remembering the fun they had trying to assemble the miniature models, which the designers tried to recapture in hopes that buyers could form an emotional bond with the One To One.

4. A low-cost (and environmentally friendly) production process

So since the chair was just a concept, some things have changed, but not its basic principles.

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Alessandro Stabile and Martinelli Venezia were able to work on streamlined shapes and follow the “miniature” concept Make a mold that uses 1/3 less steel than a regular chair made with the polyurethane foam technique.

The first prototype of the OTO chair, called 1:1: Flat-Pack, made with plastic joints holding all the pieces together
The upper and lower pulp packaging are assembled

The chair is also available no metal inserts, which means less material is used in its manufacture; Therefore, there will be lower cost and less energy wastage in manufacturing.

To make the chair viable, the designers turned to the mold-making company Secostampi, thereby solving some technical issues that had not been considered.

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5. A compact product perfect for online sales

The final structure of the chair includes: rear legs that fit into the backrest and are attached to the seat; Front legs are inserted under the latter; and to make the seat strong there is a big X.

The dimensions related to the arrangement of the chair in the packaging are only 790x590x62 mm; As a result, it takes up little space.

The OTO chair takes up very little space. 33 stacked chairs fit into one cubic meter

In fact, 33 stacked chairs fit in one cubic meter, making it easy to transport; What’s really interesting is that most of the time this means less CO2 is emitted into the air.

As for distribution, the designers went for it trade online only, to avoid unnecessary product movements; In fact, the product that leaves the factory is usually transported to the stores and then later to the recipient.

6. An affordable price

The product should not only be durable, high-quality and sustainable, but also democratic.

The Design was specifically designed to contain costs (as well as emission) and to be able to place it on the market only through online sales as a direct delivery from the production site to the end user.

Each OTO chair (for sale here) thus costs €99, including a donation to Ogyre, which collects half a kilo of marine litter for every chair sold. The nice thing is: the buyers can track the recovered waste thanks to their contribution.

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7. Find investors

However, the most important step was finding investors who believed in the project as much as the designers themselves.

The first prototype of the OTO chair, called 1:1: Flat-Pack, made with plastic joints holding all the pieces together
The OTO chair in its production version

Two years ago, only after they had reached the so-called final product, they decided to publish it as an industrial research project, hoping that it would be noticed and put into production.

Thanks to all the points we underlined above and above all the product transparency (its peculiarity compared to other products that are green and durable only in words), Alessandro Stabile and Martinelli Venezia managed to find an investor.

His name is Alex Pecoraroan entrepreneur from the Veneto region of Italy who invested in environmental projects and believed in the OTO idea.

8. Scaling

Investors only get involved if projects can be scaled. So Pecoraro’s first step was to turn the prototype not just into a product, but into an actual brand.

The brand is called One to onewhich, however, takes on a different connotation than the designers imagined from the scale model: in this case, the name refers to the interaction between the object and the consumertry to meet the needs of the latter in the best possible way.

The first prototype of the OTO chair, called 1:1: Flat-Pack, made with plastic joints holding all the pieces together
The OTO Collection

From this year the chair will finally be available on the market and previously exhibited at the Fuorisalone in Alcova together with a video installation by NonFuturo that illustrates his design process; it will also be possible to use it, since it will be placed in different places inside the structure.

And of course other, not yet defined projects will be realized by the two studios under the brand name One To One. More furniture and more, but always remaining linked to the principles that were the basis of this first project of theirs that has assumed the role of the brand’s manifesto.

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