Furniture company founded on good design, upcycled materials and restorative justice – Marin Independent Journal
Sasha Plotitsa, an industrial designer from San Francisco, wanted to start a socially responsible company last March but wasn’t entirely sure which cause needed him most.
Courtesy of Formr
The unpredicaTABLE ($ 549- $ 569) is Formr’s floating table with a built-in double-sided light on a dimmer controlled by the touch sensor button.
So he searched online for terms like “What are the world’s worst problems?” and flipped through his social media account until one day he noticed a coffee table. Socially responsible furniture came to mind.
“I thought of the time I spent in interior design seeing piles of rubble being dragged away every few days,” he says. “That’s when I started thinking about the concept of converting this construction waste into new objects.”
At the same time, he says, “I’ve been thinking about the challenge of providing employment opportunities for an underserved population.”
And with that, he started Formr (theformr.com), a furniture company that rescues disposable building materials built by former inmates who also needed a second chance to do something good. The name also plays with the word “form”, which is associated with product design.
“Formr objects have been carefully designed to incorporate the functionality and shape of the object in innovative ways,” he says. “From the OverLAP laptop table, which turns into a side table, to the HANGover multi-purpose wardrobe with shelf, to the cool sunglasses holder, the solutions are as unique as the mission.”
“The cornerstone in the manufacture of any object, however, is attention to detail,” he quickly points out.
Owning a licensed cannabis dispensary in San Francisco opened his eyes to what he saw as a failed war on drugs and a desire to hire former inmates.
“I knew that having a criminal record was a significant barrier to people trying to reintegrate into society, and I knew I wanted to make a difference,” he says. “This is how the two social pillars of Formr’s mission came together to give people who had previously been imprisoned and rubble a second chance.”
With kind permission of Formr
The VegeTABLE ($ 399) is a side table and vase combination created by Formr.
To date, he has designed and sold at least 10 pieces of furniture built in his Hayes Valley workshop by former inmates referred to him by various re-entry organizations.
“The employees are chosen based on their experience and a good personality,” he says. “I want people who are enthusiastic about the mission and who connect well with the rest of the team. Personality is the key. “
You also need to know your way around a timber store.
“Some detainees learn to use jail shop equipment or have experience of other previous work,” he says.
But he does offer training as needed.
Plotitsa sources its used building materials from local contractors and suppliers.
“We mostly use wood, which usually goes through an extensive process to make it a usable material,” he says. “We use a metal detector to find nails, screws and staples. Then the hardware is removed, which in many cases takes a long time. “
Ultimately, he wants to bring in technology to crush other types of materials like tiles and concrete for use in molds. He also wants to hire more former inmates, build retail locations, maybe turn the privately-funded company into a not-for-profit, and ultimately outsource his model to other communities.
He also hopes to be able to showcase objects and art that have been designed and built exclusively by his employees to “give them a voice and a sense of pride and responsibility for their work,” he says.
Courtesy of Formr
TIPsy ($ 379 for six bottles or $ 479 for twelve bottles), made by Formr, uses angled brass for clever wine storage.
You also get 85% of the profit.
His fourth job, he says, developed his artistic skills in prison and had his artwork on display at the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and is now on display at New York’s MoMA PS1.
Back in the workshop, Formr is actively looking for wood donations, specifically 2 x 10 or 2 x 12, in the hope of raising awareness of his mission and selling more furniture.
“Getting the word out was the biggest challenge, so making recommendations for sales is extremely helpful,” he says.
Contact Plotitsa through the Formr website or email [email protected]
With so many of the popular home tours off the calendar this year, consider this your invitation to share the pictures and descriptions of your garden or your newly designed or remodeled Marin house with fellow readers.
Please send an email describing either one, what you love most, and a photo or two. I will publish the very best in the next few columns. Your name will be published and you must be over 18 years old and a Marin resident.
Every Saturday, PJ Bremier writes about house, garden, design and entertaining topics. She can be contacted at PO Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at [email protected]