When you have a background like Brian Ignaut as a lead solar array expert for the SpaceX program, “launching” a new career seems like a natural fit — but this new job as a furniture designer is firmly planted on planet Earth.
Of course, the furniture Brian produces through his Venice, California company Degrees of Freedom isn’t the normal furniture you’d find at any corner home decor store. Instead, each piece builds on his experience designing solar arrays that unfold from the Dragon spacecraft’s body to collect solar power after entering space. After six years of out-of-this-world design work at SpaceX, Brian leapt into the furniture-making universe, bringing his affinity for folding aspects with him. In truth, his side hobby of designing foldable furniture had been in the works for quite a while before he created the “space” in his life to work on it full-time.
As seen on Instagram, each piece goes through endless trials and design changes, methodically and persistently working towards easier folding and unfolding. And while his deep space experience undoubtedly has an influence on the products, these designs are also shaped in the artistic style of ancient origami. Brian’s goal is for every piece to be aesthetically pleasing, functional, and able to be set up with minimal effort.
Three products have made it through the research and design process so far, and they’re all currently available on the company website.
The Kinetic Desk Lamp offers a round base and geometric wooden neck. With light pressure, the entire lamp neck seamlessly collapses flat, after which it can be easily stored or packed for transport.
The Loop Table is difficult to describe in words, but its ability to instantly fold flat is remarkable. Current wood options currently include oak, white oak, mahogany, and walnut. However, like all products sold through Degrees of Freedom, there are limited quantities of each item, with several pieces already sold out.
The third product is a diversion from wood working, instead made using solid aluminum alloy. The Kinetic Ring Box has a sci-fi appeal that showcases Ignaut’s roots in cosmic design. Available in both a limited and unlimited series, the box looks like a sleek silver cube that rests on one flat corner, jutting geometrically into the air. With a quick release, though, the sides drop, revealing a velvet-wrapped foam core that holds a ring or other prized gem. Another swift motion closes the box again, restoring its mysterious exterior.
Brian admits that the initial prices are made higher than he would like in an effort to support the business, but he stresses that “affordability is the ultimate goal,” adding: “I’m excited about making things that a wider audience can purchase. Though I’m not there today, hopefully these higher-priced runs will be able to subsidize the development of more cost effective iterations.”
While folding furniture isn’t a new invention, Degrees of Freedom is unique in the process of using hinges that do their job at barely more than a suggestion of effort while maintaining enough integrity to ensure stability when the furniture is asked to function.
Which piece is your favorite?