The story begins in 2000, during my freshman year at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, RI, USA. Following an 8 hour drawing critique, or 'crit', the class and I were exhausted and sore from sitting on the metal stools, hardwood floors, and plastic chairs. Observing the scene, I thought there had to be a better way. As we stood up, I noticed charcoal bun prints that had rubbed onto the bottom of our pants. I walked home inspired by this unique shape. Returning to my dorm room, I sketched a design for a portable foam seat cushion to keep art students worldwide comfortable and clean during crits. The title of the drawing was simply 'crit buns'.
Over the next 4 years, I was immersed in graphic and industrial design courses, and in my spare time moved CritBuns from sketch to rendering, prototypes to final model. The curvy cushion was almost ready for mass production by senior year (2005), when I entered it into a RISD design competition. With a bit of luck, the design was selected as the gift for my 2005 graduating class. It was the ultimate challenge: without a manufacturer or tooling, who would make 800 CritBuns in less than 4 weeks? The search for a manufacturer was overwhelming. Through persistence and support from my classmates, the dots connected at the last possible moment. CritBuns was a go!
Following the graduation success I began to develop the product's identity, package design, and marketing plan. I filed the intellectual property, stored a small inventory in my basement, and began making sales calls to any store that would listen. I was a recent grad with high ambition, and was thirsty for the real world education unfolding before me. I met it head on - the first few stores flat out rejected CritBuns. I dug down, and continued on. Finally, a small boutique in Providence, RI agreed to carry CritBuns. They only ordered 4, but I didn't care - CritBuns had now progressed from an idea, to a sketch, to a product on a shelf. The momentum continued, with new stores added each month. You can check the latest news on the blog. Along the way I've discovered the seat cushion designed to withstand harsh studioconditions now appeals to a wide range of customers who work, play, or relax on hard surfaces indoors and out. For the love of the crit!
Get a pair online.
Get a pair online.
This is a crit in progress.
The original prototype, cast in a rubber mold.
A unique gift for the graduating class of 2005.
Inspiration in an obvious place.
The big step, from idea to store.