Plus X Brighton
In September, Ben Rousseau joined Product Foundry to focus on bringing his Tempus collection of futuristic timepieces to the commercial market, while remaining committed to the planet.
Interested in joining Product Foundry in 2023? Applications for the next cohort are now open for businesses working towards developing sustainable products. Apply today.
As creatives, we know that inspiration can come from anywhere. For Ben Rousseau, founder of Rousseau Design, it was cinema that caught his eye. As a child, he was enamoured by the sleek and stylish interior designs of the James Bond films, a stark contrast to the architecture he was surrounded by in the historic town of Colchester where Ben grew up. These films lured him into the design world: “All I wanted to do was make the world’s coolest, most modern interiors and furniture,” Ben recalls.
Rousseau Design has seen Ben create all sorts of different products and interiors, from his modern redesign of the ‘70’s Bubble Chair, to his unique and vast collection of lighting products. Most recently, Ben began designing his ‘Tempus’ Collection; a kinetic artwork inspired by the preciousness of time that doubles up as a futuristic clock.
Time to Connect
Having moved back to the UK from California, Ben found life as a solopreneur at his home studio a little lonely at times. Eager to progress his collection and meet other makers, Ben joined the first cohort of Product Foundry, a BRITE innovation programme created for product makers.
It was at Product Foundry that Ben was able to continue to test and iterate his prototype, all the way to creating a working product that he was proud of. The programme gave Ben supportive pressure to think differently, and the time needed to test his prototype properly. It also pushed Ben to try out new ideas; “Being part of Product Foundry and working in the Plus X Brighton workshop really allowed me to test different processes that I wouldn’t normally use, like 3D printing.” Although Ben found that 3D printing wasn’t the right solution for his product, being in the Plus X Brighton workshop and having access to new machinery allowed Ben to try out and create at speed.
Being around a network of fellow creatives as well as a team of prototyping specialists, Ben felt challenged to experiment with new materials and machines. “I was able to use different materials based on conversations with some of the experts that we met through the course. And that was hugely valuable.”
Ben’s time as a member at Plus X and on the Product Foundry programme has been an invaluable part of getting his product ready for market, transforming the Tempus from a piece of custom art, into a more commercial business. “Now I have a product ready for market, and I’m absolutely over the moon about it.” Product Foundry gives makers the time and space needed to iterate at speed, something invaluable to the prototyping process. Speaking of his time on Product Foundry, Ben says, “I thoroughly recommend you get involved. You’ll be in amongst an amazing bunch of creatives… You’ll have some great technical support, and you’ll really enjoy the experience.”
Time for Change
As an avid surfer and snowboarder, Ben’s time outdoors has meant that he has seen the devastating impact of climate change firsthand, and this has become an immensely important part of his work. “Sustainability is absolutely paramount with my work. As a designer, I have a huge responsibility to make sure my products are sustainable and sympathetic to the planet.”
Sustainability and positive impact is a crucial part of the Plus X ethos. Through this meeting of minds, Ben was able to create a sustainable product that he could stand behind. After trying out all sorts of different materials, Ben explored the use of recyclable aluminium in his design, using our CNC laser cutting machinery to give him the accuracy needed for his product. Ben said, “The Product Foundry course at Plus X Brighton allowed me to push my product from a prototype to a working product with over 80% recycled or sustainable made, or sustainably sourced materials.”
Join Product Foundry in 2023
Following two successful Product Foundry cohorts in 2022, in March 2023 Product Foundry will be adapting to focus solely on helping product makers learn how to make truly sustainable physical products, and build design-led businesses that thrive in a new circular economy.
During the 3 day programme, participants will be working with a group of 8-10 peers and experts in sustainable design, regenerative materials, and circular economy business. The cohort will learn how their products function as they flow through systems of manufacture, use, and waste; and how to take action to ensure they are valuable to people and planet throughout.
BRITE (Brighton Research Innovation Technology Exchange) is an ERDF-funded business support project in partnership with The University of Brighton. The project supports ambitious and scaling businesses in the Coast to Capital region (however applications are considered from outside the area).
The BRITE project is receiving up to £5m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.