Week 11, 2013 – Wood is Wood.
On March 11, Seungho and I drove to Halikko where Formesa, a manufacturer of About Blank Stand, is located. We do not own a car, so we have been renting a car whenever we need, and Smart has been the one all the time. It has been surprisingly satisfying in respects to comfort, practicality, rental cost, fuel cost and loading capability – much larger than my biased expectation.
The Aaltonen brothers greeted us, who now run Formesa after their father. The reason we planned a meeting was to share the difficulties in the production of About:Blank Stand and to see the chance to resolve them for healthy and long run together.
So far the biggest difficulty we confront has been relatively high error rate in production causing the waste of time and material. Despite its simple shape, it tends to warp right after compressing and, making matters worse, Aaltonen brothers have not been able to address what causes the warps because of their irregular appearance. Formesa couldn’t help discarding those faulty products and its rate is higher than Formesa and About:Blank can afford..
After a long conversation, we concluded that warping is a natural character of plywood as a living material and it simply is more recognisable on About:Blank Stand standing on a desk not screwed or glued to any firm structure such as a metal bar or solid wood as in chairs. Think of an ordinary school chair that consists of plywood seat and metal legs, the seat part is tightened to metal parts which get slight warps adjusted.
Wood is wood. We certainly knew that it would breath unlike plastic and metal, but it was a mere knowledge before we confront the real barrier in production. Why does this feel so harsh? Of course, knowing is different than experiencing and understanding.
The Aaltonen brothers, thankfully, promised to keep manufacturing at their best to master the control of production. Things do not always go as one planned, so it is better to be ready for surprises. Well, I knew this, too, didn’t I?