In 2010, Andrew Neyer moved into an older home in Cincinnati, Ohio. There were no ceiling fixtures and he wanted a pendant light in the living room without tearing up the ceiling. Neyer, who studied printmaking at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), devised a cantilever sconce that he dubbed the Crane Light. After taking several photos of his creation and putting them online, requests for the Crane Light poured in. Neyer quit his day job and began to work full-time as a commercial artist.
With a background rooted in art, he lacked formal training in product design. However, that absence of “proper design procedure” proved to be advantageous, allowing him the primary focus to be painting a concept. “I like to take a concept and visually pair it down while simultaneously increasing the function,” Neyer said. His time at MICA laid the foundation for his whimsical take on ordinary mediums – from handmade artist books packaged as the prize inside cereal (Space Junk 2, 2008) to an interactive mural in which observers could inspect the pockets of characters and handle their belongings (Pick-A-Pocket, 2008).
As his desire to design products grew, Neyer found that his one-off products were gaining traction due to an influx of media coverage. The orders started rolling in. Along with help from his friends, Neyer built a studio that fit the needs for his vision. The main motivation being “to build the best and most affordable space [he] could and the products follow a similar route – affordable but well designed.” After making his first run production out of his home studio, he began to exceed the limits of his manufacturing capabilities and partnered with a local fabrication shop to keep up with the demand.
The proximity to the shops he works with is his favorite part about living and creating in the Midwest. By externalizing the cost and production capabilities, it frees him up for better lead times on product releases. The relationships he’s created are unique to the Midwest insofar to “keep production tight, short runs on products and a level of efficiency that is unparalleled because shipping costs are minimal. The Midwest has a storied history of fabrication and manufacturing,” Neyer said.
Following the success of the Crane Light, Neyer developed a full lighting collection based on the same minimal principles. “All my products are first form drive, simple and pleasing, they also serve a function that matches a need or addresses a problem,” Neyer said. He likes to simplify the process by removing parts until the only thing left is the essentials. This way, his pieces compete in form and function – the masterful Watch Clock piece dutifully tracks the time but also serves as a centerpiece on his wall at home.
Neyer started to create a body of art, approaching work more like an exhibit: his new collection is called Stuff – they’re functional pieces of art-sculptures with a household purpose. For Andrew Neyer, the process is organic in the sense that he simply likes making things and he’ll continue to use design as a way to “reimagine familiar forms to inspire a new appreciation of ordinary objects.”