Maker Stories: Venn Design

April 04, 2017 11:09 AM
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A few years ago Tyler Benner was driving his manual car and noticed how his left heel would twist outwards on the pedal when he depressed the clutch. A lifelong athlete focused on the finer details of his body’s movement, Benner found himself wondering if he could learn how to push the pedal without twisting — to operate his body in a finer, more exact way. This simple moment led him on a journey of re-examining and eventually realigning the way he sat, stood, or moved.

Now, he says he feels more balanced and stable than ever, and a big part of that is told through the story of Venn.

“I was introduced to stability balls through sports, and learned exercises and yoga postures too.  I even sat on them while I worked on the computer,” he says. “I found they were fun, comfortable, and felt natural for my body. They challenged me to stabilize and align myself with gravity. It was an adjustment sitting on them at first because they feel different than sitting in a chair. I found though that I became stronger, more stable and grounded over time, and subsequently found myself sitting on the stability ball when I wasn’t working or exercising.

“But I found I had this problem. When people came to my house I felt I had to put the exercise balls out of the entertaining areas, because they are exercise equipment. They are not aesthetic. And I admit — I am highly aesthetic. I crave beautiful design to feel inspired, I want my environment to be curated and coordinated. It felt odd to me — that I was hiding away the most ergonomic furniture I owned.

“I wanted a beautiful option for the natural experience of sitting, to be shared with my guests and friends who came to my home.”

So he got to work, designing and measuring and trying and failing and trying and succeeding — then repeating the process until he had a prototype. He iterated through more than 50 variations until he found the design that was simple and good and strong.

Now the Venn Design website carries more than a dozen designs, a collaboration with Pendleton Woolen Mills on a premium line, and incredible sublimated limited edition prints of the Earth, Moon, and Sun made in collaboration with PVS In-Store Graphics here in PDX. A recent pop-up shop with West Elm capstoned a new website and design line.

“It’s almost at that tipping point,” Benner admits, “but I’m working hard to keep it focused, keep it authentic. That’s what Venn is about — change, growth, authentic living.”

That’s why it’s called a Venn, not a chair.

“It’s a different approach to sitting,” he says. “It’s a different mindset — working with gravity instead of against it.

“At the core of it, Venn is about the way gravity creates and influences our physical shape.”

You can try Venn in person at Hunt and Gather in downtown Portland, or the FYN Apparel Design Studio on 21st and Division.

For more on Venn Design, visit them here:

 

This story was written by Jena Binderup

Jena Binderup is a brand journalist and storytelling consultant with 10 years of experience in writing, interviewing and crafting narratives for messaging and campaigns.

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