New Design: Kano Storage

Today we launched our latest modular storage system, available in three sizes, that was developed in collaboration with build-it-yourself computer company Kano.

In late 2014, the young and rapidly growing technology startup, Kano, reached out to Opendesk for help in kitting out their new space. They wanted to build something out of the ordinary; something that would reflect their unique products.

Kano burst onto the scene in 2013 with a very successful Kickstarter campaign. They set out aiming to rise £100K but ended up with £1.5M, giving them what they needed to fulfill their mission of providing a simple and fun way to make and play with technology, and take control of the world around us.

Kano is a computer anyone can make - from the young to the young at heart - that Bloomberg describe as ‘like a Computing 101 course in a fun, nifty package’. We couldn’t agree more. We love Kano. So the opportunity to help create a unique workplace through our local making model was very exciting.

We collaborated, creating furniture that echoed our shared design principles. The first Kano Storage Units rolled off the workshop floor in early 2015, headed for Kano’s head office in Whitechapel, East London. Nearly three years on, we’re releasing our latest Kano Storage Units in three size options, designed to be made locally anywhere in the world.

The design

These modular units, available in three different sizes, are ideal for creating a multifunctional hub in your workplace. The smallest of the units measures 500mm by 450mm by 1000mm, and is ideal for those with limited space. Use it as a TV stand for conference calls or add some cushions atop to turn it into a casual bench for a breakout area. The medium Kano unit is a similar height to a kitchen counter (measuring 500mm by 900mm by 1000mm) making it the perfect catering solution for your office coffee machine and tea supplies.

The largest of the units is 500mm by 1070mm by 1000mm, which is the perfect height for a temporary standing workstation or for hosting quick standup meetings. There is also plenty of storage space for items and papers up to A3 size.

The options are endless when combining these three different sized units together: a meeting hub, breakout space, office canteen, workshop area or even as a long space dividing wall in an open plan office.

All three sizes are provided with castors, meaning they can be easily moved and combined in any number of patterns. They also all come with a padlock loop so valuables can be safely stored away.

The Inspiration

All units were designed with Kano’s DIY computer kits in mind, with shelf height perfectly proportioned to accommodate their signature orange boxes. They wanted storage units in various sizes that could be linked in any pattern. The small unit was needed for video conferencing (it’s an ideal height for screens) but also benching during busy periods. The medium unit was an ideal height for light catering during breaks, and the large unit doubled up as a display unit during events. The Kano team also regularly use the largest unit in combination with a Nimble Stool as a standing height workbench for demoing Kano products.

In conversation with Kano’s Mathew Keegan

Mathew Keegan, Head of Care at Kano, was instrumental in the collaboration between Opendesk and Kano, providing the ideas and insights that informed our design direction. Three years after the project, we catch up with Mathew at Kano’s head office in Whitechapel, London.

Opendesk: Tell us about Kano’s furniture predicament back in late 2014. Why did you guys reach out to Opendesk?

Mathew: After our Kickstarter project we quickly outgrew the humble little shoe shop in Shoreditch we had called home. We made the move east to Whitechapel and wanted to find furniture that embodied our own values - beautifully designed, collaboratively built, and open source. We love working with local companies, but local making was a new and exciting idea that we knew was the right fit for us. There’s something intangibly appealing about knowing where each piece was made and who made it just for you.

Opendesk: Kano’s mission is “to give young people – and the young at heart – a simple, fun way to make and play with technology, and take control of the world around them”. Education is very important to us at Opendesk, too. How do you feel a more Open approach to design can help others learn?

Mathew: For centuries, humans have honed their skills by observing the work of others. It’s no different in this century - learning through exploring is still just as important. Whether it’s the source code for a program or the drawing files for a desk, sharing information freely becomes a catalyst for creativity and learning. It’s something that I’m proud to say is a philosophy that Kano and Opendesk both share deeply.

At the heart of the design is flexibility. Change is an inherent part of a startup, so creating a piece of furniture that could adapt as we grew was really important.

Mathew Keegan, Head of Care, Kano

Mathew: I’ve always had a love of furniture design, so having the opportunity to create something totally new was a dream come true. It was clear from the start that our products had to be at the forefront, with space for the team to be able to borrow and store kits for work or play. We also wanted to bring visitors into our world of making and let them see all the components that go into making a Kano Computer - the shelf height is perfectly proportioned to display our signature orange boxes!

At the heart of the design is flexibility. Change is an inherent part of a startup, so creating a piece of furniture that could adapt as we grew was really important.

Opendesk: Tell us about the design of the Kano Storage Units. You were instrumental in setting the brief for the design.

In the years since the first Kano storage units were delivered back in early 2015, the design has gone into hibernation, waiting for the perfect moment to join the permanent Opendesk collection. Before the design could be made public, it needed some optimisation work to make it more “maker friendly”.

Designer group of Kano units

Scarlett (Designer), Ben (Production Manager) and Joe (Design and Engineering Lead) from Opendesk all worked on the latest iteration.

The small, medium and large units now fit onto one, two and three sheets of 8’x4’ birch plywood respectively. The introduction of a simple locking mechanism means the units can now be secured with a padlock, so they’re perfect for confidential documents and belongings.

Explore the Kano Units and request quotes from local makers today.

Designs featured in this article