Peter Marigold – Creator of FORMcard

So you have to take a philosophical view in that all the things you do make a sum of parts, rather than each project being a success or failure.

Peter Marigold is a designer and maker of objects. After completing the M.A. Design Products course at the RCA he established his studio concentrating on a wide variety of objects including furniture, products and interiors. He is one of the prestigious Designers of the Future awards from Design Miami.

Working with both galleries and manufacturers his work is exhibited internationally including the MoMA New York, Design Museum Holon (Israel), Victoria and Albert Museum (London) and 21_21 Design Sight (Tokyo). Recent commissions include projects for Bloomberg, The Museum of Childhood (London), Oyuna (Mongolian Cashmere), and a porcelain collection for Meissen (Germany). He is currently completing a very large public artwork for the facade of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh which will incorporate microscopic 3D scans of skin textures from patients and staff at the hospital.

Most recently he launched the highly successful product FORMcard on Kickstarter that was funded by 816% with more than 2000 backers.

Where did the idea for FORMcard come from?

I was running public workshops using low-temperature thermoplastics and although many of them are very usable, I could see that the granulated form was holding them back from coming into everyday use…. I imagined how they could be much more instant, friendly and fun to use.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

It’s incredibly variable…. I am also incredibly easy to distract and I end up doing ten things at the same time…. This phase of making a transition from running a furniture design studio over to running a business has been exciting but quite complicated! Right now I am still working on various gallery commissions for my furniture and also a huge public artwork (188m long wall!) … and this is really in contrast to the FORMcards which are so small and anonymous.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I used to spend a huge amount of time sketching and modelling things, but as my business has grown over the last few years I’ve sadly ended up with less opportunity to do this – experiments are mostly being limited to my imagination only at the moment and I really hope this will change again in the near future. I travel on the train a lot, and these are really great moments to just let my mind drift. I’ve spent a huge amount of wasted time on projects that went absolutely nowhere! So you have to take a philosophical view in that all the things you do make a sum of parts, rather than each project being a success or failure.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Trends? Is it a bit of a dirty word no? I love the maker community. I love all the people making crazy things in their kitchens, bathrooms, garages. It gives me great faith in the potential for humans to change and improve the world without defaulting to just going to a high street shop and buying the same thing they already have in a different colour.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My god…. I’m utterly unprofessional. I can end up mentally drifting so far from where I planned to be in the morning that sometimes I get nothing done… I don’t know maybe people find that in some way endearing? Maybe not…. I’m speaking now with distributors all over the world and I think some of them find it really hilarious that I have no idea what I’m doing…. ah well… maybe next year I’ll understand what the hell is going on…

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Well… I’ve had what might look on paper like terrible jobs – I worked in the cafes at London Zoo cleaning left over food off dishes from rich spoiled brats – and some very sketchy workshop jobs… but I have to say I still enjoyed all of those things! I like working with people from different countries, which often happens in lower paid jobs, but this is amazing as you can get a whole perspective on their country and their opinion of how they exist in our culture.

AHA! Okay, the absolute most rubbish job was being a ‘PA’ on a Richard Gere film shoot in Chicago for a day. A film student got me involved in it and I thought I would be making tea …. or, at least, cleaning equipment… or something…. my job for over 15hours was just standing next to a big light and making sure nobody bumped into it. It was filmed in a hotel and every half hour we would see the top of Richard Gere’s head moving around in the distance. 15 hours I’ll never get back.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’d set up a company from the very start! I’m in a bit of a crazy transition now from just being me … and suddenly a company – actually two companies now! But apart from that, I’m happy with how things are. They reflect how I think and work for sure – it’s all diverse and very varied.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

My goodness….. I really don’t think any sane person should take advice from me! Well, you know, find out what you like doing and just do lots of it. Life’s short.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Launching on Kickstarter was a massive change in what I do. I think the most important thing was having a great video that puts all my ideas very clearly across. Keep it simple and light and fun and make sure everything gets across in a quick succinct way. Find a good creative filmmaker. I used a friend who managed to film and edit everything in two days flat.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Ah… well stupidly I offered to post things in time for Christmas! Always dangerous… we got 99.9999% of them to people on time, but it hurts when those one or two emails come in that say we missed their Christmas gift slot 🙁

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

An internet troll gladiator ring.

So if you’ve got a forum for whatever topic and some idiot comes in and starts trolling people, the moderator, instead of banning them, can click a button and the troll, without realising, is taken to a different portal in which all of the people he was interacting with are replicated as argumentative AI bots. This new arena he is unaware of being in is watchable by people on the ‘TROLL ARENA’ channel so that they can watch human trolls battling internet bots for fun.
What do you think?

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Ah… wow… oh yes! I bought the new Moog Theremin! Great musical fun and my boy use it too … sometimes.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Rhino 3D is amazing. And recently I’ve switched to use Google Sheets online which is great to coordinate the massive amounts of data with the logistics company.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

A Dictionary of Word Origins – by Jon Ayto. Because I love the origins of words and this is the best book on them that I own.