Backyard inventor turns success story
What started as a backyard business has turned into an inventive enterprise for Brisbane-based Dreamfarm, which has invented a range of clever kitchen gadgets including the Clong, Scizza, Tapi and Teafu.
We spoke with Jacinta Chew about this small business success story.
Who are the key people and what are their backgrounds?
Alex Gransbury founded Dreamfarm in 2003. Alex’s formal education is in business, but he has always played an active role in the design process since he designed the company’s first product, Grindenstein.
Philip Howieson is Dreamfarm’s design manager. Philip, who has worked for the company since 2007, is an industrial designer by training, and takes a lead role in the product development.
Tom Schuster is Dreamfarm’s engineer. He has worked for the company since he started as a uni student in 2012. Now Tom is broadening his role, and taking on engineering students himself.
What was Dreamfarm’s first design and what inspired it?
Grindenstein was our first product. After purchasing a home espresso machine, Alex found there wasn’t a way of emptying the group handle without creating a mess. Grindenstein was originally made from plumbing pipe, a piece of garden hose, a big metal bolt and a nut. It solved the problem and became our first product.
Which product was the most challenging to design and create?
If you consider that we started trying to solve this problem back in 2011, it was probably the Spadle! Even late in the design process this was a very challenging product. The parts of the handle that twist had to be very precisely engineered. They have to twist easily without ever coming apart, and also lock in place so they don’t twist during use. This had to be achieved without creating areas that food could become trapped in.
Is there a sustainable component to the process or products?
For Dreamfarm products the main sustainable component is durability. We use quality materials, and always create thick, robust forms to try to ensure the product lasts a lifetime, and therefore never needs to be replaced. Part of this effort is using “overmoulding” processes to ensure parts are permanently bonded together. Whilst it reduces the recyclability of the products, it vastly increases their lifespan.
What’s next on the drawing board for Dreamfarm?
We aim to keep increasing our core range of kitchen tools, while further moving into any other areas where problems exist that need useful tools to solve them. These areas may include the bathroom, or general living.
The initial goal for this project was to make a soup ladle that was easier to store. We also wanted to add the silicone-scraping tip our customers have come to know and love from our Supoon cooking spoon.
In 2011 we designed a ladle with a collapsible silicone head. Instead of twisting, the head of this prototype collapsed down like the top of a pram. Unfortunately manufacturing difficulties led to the demise of the concept before it got off the ground – the folding silicone shape was just too hard for any of our factories to manufacture.
A few years later we were discussing making a larger Supoon for serving, not just cooking. We decided to combine these two ideas, and make a larger Supoon, that changes shape in the handle to form a ladle. Not only does it fulfill the original brief – a soup ladle that is easier to store – but now it can also function as a large cooking spoon.
We tried various ideas to change the angle of the spoon head, but the eventual solution was inspired by one of those “Rubik’s Snake” toys some of us had as children.
Above image courtesy of Dreamfarm.