Spinning A Made-In-The-Midwest Student Project Into Kickstarter Gold

Clip Tree, the ingenious little storage system by a Cranbrook grad student, is fast becoming one of Kickstarter’s rare furniture success stories.

When we last wrote about Clip Tree, it was little more than a twinkle in designer Matthew Plumstead’s eye. Developed as part of Plumstead’s final year at Cranbrook Academy, the adaptable storage system existed only as a series of prototypes, fabricated in the Michigan school’s workshop.


That was six months ago. Since then, Plumstead was selected to show Clip Tree at ICFF, where it won the 2012 Studio Award. “The responses from the press, retail buyers, and the general public was so encouraging,” he writes, “I left New York knowing that there is a true market for Clip Tree in the real world!”

If you’re not familiar with Clip Tree, it’s predicated on a single behavioral insight: When we enter our homes, most of us tend to leave our belongings strewn all over the house, Family Circus-style. So we’re forced to retrace our footsteps when we head out in the morning, and well, you get the idea. Clip Tree is a simple solution for a simple problem: a long wooden dowel milled with notches for a series of rubberized clips, each with a different design–one for your phone and tchotchkes, another for scarves and ties, and so on. “It’s an open framework that can be changed as needed,” Plumstead explains.

After graduation, Plumstead set up shop in St. Paul and did what any reasonable twentysomething with a good idea would do: He launched a Kickstarter. Working under the studio name McMarty Quinn, Plumstead is aiming to fund and manufacture Clip Tree entirely in the USA. “I have lined up vendors for wood milling, injection molding, and packaging here in Minnesota,” he writes. His goal is to raise $60,000 by next Monday–if he succeeds, Clip Tree could ship to funders as early as November.

It’s an ambitious plan, considering that the average design campaign on Kickstarter raises half of that ($29,409, to be exact). While the crowdsourcing platform has plenty of success stories focused on tech-centered products, it’s more rare to see furniture campaigns. They exist–but not with the frequency of graphic and product design campaigns, perhaps because of the exorbitant cost and extensive time it takes to manufacture larger objects. “Costs could very likely be halved if I were to produce everything overseas,” Plumstead adds. “Such is the state of things in manufacturing.”

Yet with four days to go, he’s already surpassed his goal. Head over to his campaign page to get Clip Tree for $75–as cheap as it’ll likely ever come.

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.