Toying with Design: How David Weeks evolved his product focus

After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1990, David Weeks fell into product design by chance. He’d intended, after moving to New York, to become an artist, but fell into a job with jewelry designer Ted Muehling. Weeks discovered a passion for metalwork that would eventually translate into the elegant, sculptural lighting designs for which he became well known.

Since setting up his own studio in 1996, Weeks has greatly diversified. With a manufacturing space in Brooklyn and a storefront-turned-gallery in Tribeca, his work now spans everything from furniture to toys.

What inspires you?

It sounds corny but when you start designing you just notice little things, like a doorknob that feels wrong or the way a lock closes. You start critiquing everything. It’s also about materials. When you see a material bend a certain way you get an instant idea of what you could do with it. The studio in Brooklyn was very much designed to make those experiments possible.

What’s your favorite design?

I think it would have to be Hanno the Gorilla. Though it’s perhaps not my favorite piece, it is certainly the most emblematic. I think that was when I started to design toys, [and] people began to see the studio differently. Plus, the gorilla is such an object of strength.

What prompted you to start designing toys?

I had children! My son was really the inspiration. Someone once said to me that your best designs are the ones that you design for yourself, and I think that’s true. We were going to yard sales and buying action figures and when you play with them you can study the joints and the construction of each piece. It was also a moment where lighting [design] was very dominant [in the company]. It was at this point that I wanted to diversify.

How do you spend your free time?

I’m remodeling a barn at the moment near Hudson, in upstate New York. It’s an amazing structure in a great location. I guess it’s linked to my work but it’s closer to architecture. My children are very involved with it too—they’re 14 and 11 now, so they’re getting to the point where it’s really good to run ideas by them.

See more of Weeks’ designs on the David Weeks Studio website, or follow them on Instagram here.

This portrait is part of an ongoing collaboration with OTHR, a vibrant hub for unique ideas and new possibilities in design. Visit OTHR for more on this story and more.

Text: Laura Chanter
Photography: Mark Wickens