5 Minutes With BDNY 2019 Product Design Winner: Jeff Kudrick of JM Lifestyles
We met Jeff and his team at BDNY, where their booth and ours were catty-corner from one another. Their Woodform Concrete Slab Table is a winner of the 2019 Annual Product Design Competition. Jeff’s answers have been slightly edited for concision and form.
1. What are your products made of? Are they better than wood?
The products are made of a lightweight, fiber-reinforced mineral composite. The composition is structured specifically to allow for integration of materials in the future that we have already used and are waiting for availability or our growth to license the technology. We’ve used different recycled fibers, pozzolans, and sequestered carbon cement replacements.
We do have Portland cement in our mix. Although it is considered to be contributing to the carbon emissions problem, it is very functional in our daily lives with much less impact per unit than other materials. It is also a commodity that allows us to produce at a reasonable cost, with a very high degree of reliability, greater performance, and contributes to creating a larger business that has the volume to then integrate better and bigger solutions.
It’s better than wood because you don’t remove endangered rainforest species or destroy the ecology and local environments with more invasive logging practices. It does not split, rot, crack, warp, burn. It is waterproof and can go outside in the heat, humidity, and sun.
The product lasts longer and replaces unsustainable logging practices and rainforest destruction. You don’t have to add dangerous cancer-causing chemicals so it doesn’t burn, it doesn’t need to have a climate-controlled environment so it doesn’t degrade, split, warp, or crack. You get to use wood in ways that would be otherwise impossible or impractical.
2. How do you make them look so much like wood?
It is a VERY long process. The way we process the wood in order to obtain all the grain in our molds is elaborate. The molds are created from specially engineered rubber components that give us the necessary qualities.
We also have a very unique formulation of materials that give the characteristics of wood such as the sound, the warmth to the touch, the softness while retaining 8500 PSI.
The coloration is similar to coloring wood and is in the material itself. We cast by hand, finish and carve by hand, and color inside the mold and outside the mold by hand. You can actually feel the energy of all that hands that have touched it before you, just like an antique piece of furniture.
3. Where did the idea come from? How long have you been doing it?
It was an experiment I had 12 years ago. I would regularly make pieces when I was a practicing artist. The display was in our showroom and a woman came in and requested it for her kitchen. The problem was, it was not a system. It was not made to be modular and be reused. She was persistent and within 3-4 weeks time I developed a system that we use today, only with much better tolerances and detail.
4. Does it age better than wood? What would, say, the tub look like 30 years from now if it’s used at least once a week?
We have it indoors and outdoors, in high-traffic NY and NJ bars, and in stair applications in hotels in Boston. It is incredibly resilient and durable. The tub would look like it does today, as long as it is cleaned and maintained.
5. Who is Bodhi? By any chance, is he super chill and on his way to Buddhahood?
Bodhi is an enlightened rescue puppy. Terribly exited to spread the word of sustainability to the world. SHE is always there to remind us to be happy and grateful for who we are. She is Buddha incarnate in a female for sure!