It’s a beautiful day in Texas, and we are thrilled to be bringing y’all yet another Designer Spotlight!
Today, we share our interview with Bob and Nicole Springer of Spot On Square, a Bay Area-based furniture company. This former industrial designer/teacher team combined their efforts in 2007 to start their business, and they have been going strong ever since, making functional and eco-friendly products for children and parents alike.
Bob and Nicole took time out of their busy schedule to answer some of our questions, as well as send us some gorgeous photographs of their products.
Bob and Nicole Springer are the team behind the Northern California furniture company, Spot On Square.
But before we launch into their interview, here is their Peacock biography: If they could hop on an airplane right this minute, they would travel to… anywhere with sand, ocean and little umbrella drinks (Nicole) AND “I’ve always wanted to go to Portugal… thankfully, there are beaches there, so Nicole wil go with me! (Bob). Their not-so-secret jam out tune (which may include top-of-their-lung singing and sometimes hollering, too) is Smashing Pumpkins’ “Gish,” Erasure’s “The Innocents” and the soundtrack to Grease… I’m all over the place musically and am showing my age here (Nicole) AND Radiohead and Pixies for Bob. If they had superpowers, they’d add more time to each day and time travel (Nicole) AND mix Nicole’s answer with the ability to fly (Bob). And should they wake up tomorrow as an animal, they hopes they would be an elephant. “I’ve always loved them. They form strong family bonds, are intelligent and strong, yet gentle creatures – just like most moms!” (Nicole) AND a bear “because they get to sleep for months at a time on a full stomach. And no one tells a bear what to do!” (Bob)
How did you start Spot On Square?
Bob has always had a love of furniture design and created many pieces for our home throughout our marriage. As an Industrial Designer with an entrepreneurial spirit, he also craved the creative freedom and personal challenge of designing and manufacturing our own products. Nicole had been away from teaching for a few years as a full time mom and was excited to build something for our family that could blend her multi-tasking and organizational skills with Bob’s design and manufacturing expertise.
We love good design, and we were at the point in life where we wanted to start buying quality, long-term furniture that met the needs of our whole family. At the time, as we looked at it, there was very little available that was both eco-friendly with a true modern aesthetic. Our usual dreamy comments of, “Someday, it would be cool to do…” turned into “What if we…” and soon the opportunity became obvious to us, and we jumped in with both feet.
We all have a vision of what we think things are going to turn into when an idea first hits us. How has your vision evolved since you began?
It has really exceeded our expectation in so many ways yet, at the same time, presented challenges that we never expected. We started in 2007. We were beginning to ship our first orders just as the stock markets fell, and the economy was hit hard, making it a tough first year to grow a new company. This didn’t shake our motivation, and we pushed through. So many things are unpredictable until you’ve gone through some of the challenges and learned how to manage these. We’ve learned so much, which has formed and changed our expectations. There will always be new challenges and learning curves around each bend, and we’ve learned to embrace them.
Our vision now is greater than when we started. We are so thankful to have enjoyed steady growth as a company and expect to continue growing in ways we couldn’t have initially imagined. We have always offered nursery furniture that was designed to compliment a modern home aesthetic making the pieces a natural extension of the home that will last far beyond the baby stage. We’ve had such a great response with parents wanting pieces for their own use that we are excited to provide more offerings that can be used throughout the whole home and for the whole family.
Where do you find daily inspiration?
We live in the Bay area in a neighborhood of Mid Century Modern homes that is full of family focused, design centric and creative people. Through our daily experiences with the awesome people and architecture in our community, we are constantly inspired to create better products.
It goes without saying that our daily inspiration definitely comes from our home and family. We design for our family and what would work for our home environment. We will not offer products that we would not be 100% happy to have in our own home or used by our own children. We actually use most of the products we offer. This gives us the best opportunity to experience our products as our customers would and inspire new ways of developing future products.
I read that you (Nicole) were a teacher before becoming a full-time mom and that your husband is an industrial designer. Tell me about how the two of you use your individual skill sets from your previous jobs to visualize and create products for Spot On Square.
We are so fortunate we both have individual skill sets that play important roles for Spot On Square from the creation of products to the running of a successful business. Bob is an accomplished product designer who, early in his career worked under the direction of Industrial Designer pioneer, Richard Sapper. The time with Sapper influenced Bob’s approach to design as a young designer. Although it’s evolved over the years, this influence has been a major contributor to his design approach.
As a former elementary school teacher, Nicole’s experience with children and their development has been a great asset to our mission of creating modern, eco-friendly pieces that provide versatility in function for the growing child. She has definitely brought her organizational and multi-tasking teacher skills to a whole new level with our business. Nicole has always instilled in her students and our children, the passion for lifelong learning, and she will be the first to say this venture of ours is definitely living out that lesson in a big way.
We know your company is environmentally conscious. Why is this important — to you, as a parent, and to you as a company owner?
Being eco-conscious has always been important to us, even more once we became parents. It is important to us for our children and community that we choose responsible and eco-friendly ways to make our products. When we initiated our concept for Spot On Square, we approached it first as parents. We really wanted to do something that would not only be different than what was on the market, but also with thoughtful consideration for the environment and families using our products. It’s important to us as parents and as good stewards to produce family friendly products that are eco-friendly and sustainable. We pride ourselves in designing high quality, innovative offerings for families. To us, being eco-conscious is unquestionably a natural part of that.
Currently, Polka Dot Peacock has four employees. Just to provide some insight to our readers, would you be willing to share how big or small Spot On Square is?
We are a family-owned company that started in 2007, which was a really hard time from an economic perspective in our country to start a company. This has helped us in many ways to take a lean approach to managing our business. We focus on ensuring that we are using our internal competencies to get the best design work, excellent customer service and the things that matter most to our customers. We have a crew of five amazing people making these things happen for Spot On Square. Our manufacturing and fulfillment is handled through third parties at our direction.
Thanks so much to Nicole and Bob for answering our questions about their company and giving us a look at the people behind Spot On Square!
Be sure to check out their products at Polka Dot Peacock.
All images, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of Spot On Square. Used with permission by The Perch.