A Q&A with Nick Sheridan, Bret Englander,
and Daniel Wacholder, Founders
What’s your design process like?
Nick: Our design aesthetic was developed mostly when I was in architecture school, which shaped my sensibility, along with an academic year I spent studying in Italy and other traveling. That aesthetic value is applied to both a need, i.e. a working desk lamp, and a set of components, like a specific LED array, or a dimmer. It’s usually a need or a new component will be a starting point to inspire a design. In the case of Cubo, [founding partner] Daniel wanted a light that he could use to read in bed without disturbing his fiancée, and also have it provide ambient room illumination—a hybrid lamp.
Most of our designs often begin by trying to exploit the way that LEDs can provide light like no other source has been able to in the past. The manufacturing process, materials to be used, electronic components to be concealed, and the problem it solves are all applied simultaneously while going through 10 or 20 iterations in the computer before it’s introduced to Daniel, who solid models the design in the computer. We work together to fine tune any issues that he may see with engineering and manufacturing of the piece. Then Daniel works out every "nut and bolt" until he has resolved it to as few parts as possible.
Bret: The way we work has a lot to do with being very tight knit from day one. We’ve known each other for 20 and 25 years. That’s a unique thing to bring to the professional environment, and it makes for a different approach to business. Really, this company started on the beach 25 years ago. We all went very separate ways professionally and academically, and it’s like 3 brothers bringing all their different skill sets together.
"Honesty in material is important to our brand. Form is backed by function, not by a desire to create ornamentation."
Do you have any role models?
Nick: I am influenced by Mies Van Der Rohe, John Lautner, Santiago Calatrava, and Ray and Charles Eames, to name a few. I respond to honest, unapologetic, clean, and simple design where function is paramount. The modern movement is over 100 years old now, and different portions of it go in and out of style. The goal is to create a cohesive product offering and language that is both iconic and timeless.
What’s important to you in design?
Honesty in material is important to our brand. We use solid walnut and Baltic birch in ways where you can appreciate the materiality. If we use veneer, you can see its thickness at the edge. The forms are purposedriven and clean, lacking surplus. Form is backed by function, not by a desire to create ornamentation.
Tell us about your space. Your office is…
A no-frills place where we run the whole business. But all around the space are prototypes we’ve worked on and projects that are in process or on hold. There’s a lot of energy and interesting objects to keep us going all the time.
What mistakes do you see in design?
When I was working as an architect and specifying products, there we so many items that nearly pulled off being a clean and beautiful product, but almost always I would say to myself, ‘why did they feel the need to add this element? Or why does this element curve and create a unsolicited organic shape? It’s unnecessary.’ I always cringe when I see that - a good product that has some added, unneeded element that compromises the whole thing.