Watch: Rich Brilliant Willing Talk About Their Hands-On Design Process

The trio behind the Brooklyn-based design-and-manufacturing studio talk shop and share their approach to making.

Rich Brilliant Willing was formed in 2007 with the goal of uniting the oft disparate worlds of design and manufacturing from a fully equipped, Brooklyn-based studio and workshop. In the following six years, RBW’s founding trio of RISD grads–Charles Brill, Theo Richardson, and Alex Williams–have produced thoughtful lighting and furniture that have established their reputation as a design force.


“A design is a concept,” Brill explains in the first of our Making It video series. “There’s a series of problems or issues that we resolve into a finished product.” As technological advancements continue to evolve the relationship designers have with their finished collections, RBW remains committed to keeping hands-on from start to finish. Getting the inner workings–or “guts”–of a particular piece isn’t exactly as glamorous as refining the aesthetics and sculptural exterior, but it offers them the opportunity to develop both aspects concurrently.

Sketching, drawing, and model-making exist at the heart of their exploratory approach, which often begins without any clear concept of where it will end up–which is actually all part of the plan, and one of the main freedoms afforded by keeping all aspects of their operation in-house. “Nothing that can substitute working with your hands. It’s rewarding to hold something physical in the increasingly digital age,” Williams says.

Ultimately, whether they’re manipulating oak and steel, stone and aluminum, or natural glass, casting off superfluous elements and keeping things minimal is always the main tenet. “We try to focus on simplicity and excellent execution into an expressive statement that you immediately understand,” Richardson says.

Check out Brill, Richardson, and Williams having a dialogue with new ideas, manipulating materials, and how what they do is like making music. And keep an eye out on Making It for more from our favorite up-and-coming creatives, who will offer a glimpse behind the scenes of their own processes.