Two London based product designers have learnt to be adaptive and figure out way to get products out of the door. They describe the story, about humble beginnings from a basement in North London. Suck UK is a highly awarded and respected source of inventive and often inspiring products.
SUCK UK produce furniture, lighting, interior products and accessories. Design is mostly by Sam and Jude or selected by them from some of the best designers around the world.
The story … IN THE BEGINNING… we started out doing stuff for other people. One off eclectic projects attracted commissions from architects and other designers. The idea to produce actual commercial products came from working on low budget film, TV, and interior jobs (but mainly from the gaps between the jobs). SUCK (the brand) was established in late 1999 from humble beginnings working on a kitchen floor in a bedsit in North London. We worked on our own concepts making stuff that we liked for no-one in particular: products with Glamour and pure industrial forms, off-the-wall and unnecessary functionality, things to grab your attention without resorting to kitsch or parody. We used materials that we knew about and experimented with ones we didnt. We obsessed about processes and materials, always working towards elegant (Cheap) production solutions. Working in this cramped environment with no outside support made learning hard and fast. We worked (unfortunately for the neighbours) through the night and filled our days with dead-end jobs to buy materials and pay the phone bill. Money was unbelievably tight and a unique ability to utilise our surroundings and whatever tools we could get became a way of life. With trial and error we learned to cannibalise existing products, combine materials in new ways and to scrounge professional expertise as often as possible. It was fast becoming evident that our makeshift studio was completely inappropriate, kitchens are no place for sheet metal fabrication, sticky chemicals and spray paint. Our flat-mates decided enough was enough and they wanted their home back. New premises were required and with no money the solution came in the form of an empty room in a squatted embassy building in Primrose Hill. The only room without boards at the windows became our studio and a nearby phone-box the office. It was damp, dark and smelt but there was lots of room to experiment in. It was at this time that we really started to develop our products, banging together prototypes with whatever materials were at hand and attempting some sort of small-scale manufacture. Now SUCK really started making progress and developing some sort of a direction. We were working on stuff that wouldnt look out of place in Londons clubs and galleries but we wanted to get this into peoples houses… Production was set back by an unexpected eviction late one night. Most of our old equipment was lost as we scrabbled around on the floor gathering up our stuff with bemused police officers looking on in disbelief. We made it out with our prototypes intact and the determination and confidence to quit our day jobs and put all our energy into developing the brand. Two moves later and we are now based in a East End studio like proper designers. No sooner than the dust has settled and we are planning a permanent exhibition space… We refuse to restrict ourselves to any one material or technique. Each of our products is different from the next and as we discover different ways of working and new materials we incorporate these into new products. SUCK is not a craft based company, we design based on our knowledge of how, why, where and what is possible. We work closely with specialist manufacturers in many fields so we get the benefit of years of manufacturing expertise without having to physically learn the craft. As time passes a more recognisable SUCK Style is emerging and we are already ditching some of the earlier products which helped launch the company as we introduce newer ideas. Our stuff is attracting a lot of attention from the public as well as the press. We have appeared in the usual interior mags and Sunday supplements. We have even represented the face of “contemporary design” on the BBC. Public reaction to our products was fantastic when we launched at Mode in June 2000 (we kept it quiet that everything at the show was only at the prototype stage and nobody seemed to notice!). We have been presented an award for ‘Most Innovative New Product’ by Terence Conran (It took another ten months before The Conran Shop itself agreed to stock our stuff) and Best ‘In Show at MODE’. We are now represented in all the big ‘name’ department stores as well as loads of indie shops (who supported us from early on). We are never content however, and the next few months will see us release some of the best new products to come out of the UK in a long time… SUCK UK is products designed by Sam and Jude Central Saint Martins 96 (BA Product Design)