The idea for Brendan Ravenhill’s newest product came as many design inspirations do: during a late night at his workbench after he had made a big mess. "I was sweeping up and couldn’t find the dustpan," he says. "In my studio at the time I had a chipboard mock up of a trash can that I was testing out, and in moment of need, I tipped it on its side to sweep the dust into." Ravenhill realized the true value of a good trash can was having all its components—bin, dustpan, brush—at the ready. His new product the Dustbin combines all your trash-collecting needs in one ingenious and good-looking solution for eliminating waste. And it’s a solution that’s manufactured 100% locally near his studio in Los Angeles.As a designer, Ravenhill is renowned for his streamlined, utilitarian products—his simple bottle opener made from a slab of walnut, a magnet and a bent nail put him on the design world’s radar—so for the Dustbin, there are no frills, no extra parts. The dustpan balances cleverly on a pivot point on the top of the trash can, doubling as the swinging lid. And the wood-handled brush attaches to the can with magnets, adding a nice aesthetic juxtaposition to the powder-coated exterior.
A fervent supporter of local manufacturing, Ravenhill took his concept to fabricators in L.A. with the hopes that every piece of the Dustbin could be produced in town. Metal manufacturer Angell and Giroux, who have been making metal cabinets and boxes since 1946, fabricated the cans and dustpans. A Tampico-fiber brush was custom made by Gordon Brush, who make the brushes that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (also based in L.A.) uses to buff Martian dust off the Mars Rovers. Working hyper-locally does contribute to the Dustbin’s somewhat hefty price (currently on sale at $160), but Ravenhill says those costs are buying quality labor and solid materials. "Wherever we had the option, we chose a heavier gauge metal, or a more durable finish," says Ravenhill. "The Dustbin is not cheap, but it is built to last."
In fact, Ravenhill hopes that the Dustbin can help prove that products which are designed and built domestically can also be affordable. "Many of these fabricators are operating on such tight margins that they aren’t out looking for new work from cardboard-prototype-toting designers like me," he says. "But some of these business owners are excited to try new things and diversify their offerings." Living in Southern California helps a little, where a thriving industrial sector is still trying to compete with places like China. But Ravenhill has other techniques, like looking specifically for existing manufacturing methods that he can incorporate into his concepts, allowing for an entirely different level of collaboration. "Finding the right people and talking to them in person is how I’m able to make it work," he says. "It’s not always easy, but it beats flying to China whenever I have a new cardboard model to get feedback."
Buy the Dustbin here, but hurry: For a limited time, it’s 45% off!