Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Alan Rorie, principal of Hero Design, a business founded in 2010 that designs and fabricates a kinetic light board called Everbright, explains how this image represents his business.
I've always loved kinetic experiences, repeating elements, and playing with geometry and color. When a client asked me to build a giant Lite-Brite, I decided to redesign and reimagine it to incorporate LED dials in place of removable pegs. The dials can turn in either direction and move endlessly through the color spectrum as you twist them. When you're done drawing, the entire board resets to a blank canvas with the press of a button.
From the moment I conceived Everbright, I wanted to turn it into a product — I thought, "Doesn't everyone want one?" Everyone likes to play with colors and patterns. It's the type of thing everybody can have fun with, and it's timeless. Even after all these months of developing and building Everbright, I still play with it every day. It helps me think. I find it very meditative and focusing.
I started designing things when I was in graduate school at Stanford working on my Ph.D. in neurobiology. Although the work was really interesting, I found it unsatisfying. So much of it was in the abstract; I was interested in the physical world, but in science you begin in the physical world but you end up in abstraction. I wanted to work more with actual physical objects. This practice of design and fabrication evolved into Hero Design, which led to the first Everbright.
Our biggest challenge is managing inventory and physical space. Each Everbright is made to order, and is individually fabricated using custom components and materials. At the moment, we are trying to find the balance between having enough components on hand for a consistent production schedule, and having enough space in the studio to move efficiently. We will likely need a bigger space soon.