The Ethics Behind Surface


It's no easy task to hone a distinctive style in modern design.

As a small boy Tom dreamed of designing cars but his attraction to automobiles had a more romanticised basis than most. ‘I had a sense of a disappointment’, Tom explains, ‘when I found out that each section of modern cars were designed by different people.’ Even as a small boy, this corporate approach didn’t chime with him. So he took his vision in another direction, and the fascination with industrial materials has never left him.


‘I wanted to design a complete product. The whole thing from start to finish. Being a cog in a bigger machine…’ Tom pauses. ‘That was just not going to work for me.’

For his part, Oliver Staiano has experience in this area. His prior work allowed him to witness the magic a designer can create from seemingly dull materials. ‘I had an internship with Lex Pott in Amsterdam’ says Oliver. ‘There were a few other offers here in England that would’ve paid better but I wanted to work somewhere that would give me the chance to develop as a designer.’ 

His development included a trip to a Belgian quarry. An excursion that hugely influenced his professional outlook. ‘We went to this place where they were mining Belgian bluestone and, later on, we used it as the base material in one of the designs.'


‘Following that journey, from the quarry to the finished piece was a really crucial part of my growth as a designer. Being there helped me understand the importance of process.’ Oliver explains.

It is this system of ethics that has led the pair to their creation, a smooth, elegant speaker named ‘Surface’. The real buzz around this project emanates from the purpose of its sculptural qualities.

From aesthetic consideration to sound enhancement, it seems like this pair have a burning desire to obliterate the idea that image and function are mutually exclusive. Such stringent values about sourcing and development currently find favour in design circles.



"Surface’s sleek curves enable a more balanced dispersion of sound."

It marks a return to the roots of production and a challenge to the modern obsession with cost-effective, uninspired, factory-line offerings. Tom and Oliver extoll the virtues of batch-produced, carefully crafted and original creations. Not just in their words but in their actions too.