ODLCO is included in The Atlantic's Startup Nation 2012, a special report on "ideas and entrepreneurs on the leading edge." Alexis Madrigal and Sarah Rich visited us earlier this month in Chicago and wrote an excellent article explaining the ODLCO small-batch model, entitled A Tiny Balloon Factory, Small-Batch Whiskey, and 3D Printing: A Dispatch from the Future of Manufacturing. It's a real landmark for us that a manufacturing company is included among leading tech and financial startups, and we hope that this is a sign of a turn around for the American interest in manufacturing and domestic goods.
Here's an excerpt:
If you follow Randolph Avenue due west for a mile or so from downtown Chicago, you end up in an industrial stretch of brick buildings that has long served as a series of meatpacking and storage outposts for the nearby Fulton Market. When Linder and Smith took over one of these two-story units recently, the first floor was still dominated by a massive meat locker and a fork lift. But neither of those is visible now. Linder and Smith are maximizing the mixed-use potential of this place, turning it into a small-scale manufacturing facility in back, showroom up front, and an apartment above, where Smith is already living.
Linder and Smith's company, ODLCO, is the second iteration of a collaboration they originally called Object Design League (ODL), through which they produced exhibitions and operated pop-up shops. But, Smith says, they tired of exhibitions. "It's so unsatisfying when you have your thing on a pedestal, and then no one can really buy it, it's a one-off, and no one's really using it," she explains, "So we thought that instead of doing exhibitions it would be nice to actually produce works...in the design world, helping these things come to life.
So Object Design League became ODLCO, and to date the duo has produced three products: a cast-iron pot, a butter dish, and a forthcoming silicone trivet. In each case, they have done extensive leg work to track down makers who specialize in exactly the kind of production process they need. The pot, for example, was manufactured by a small company they found up in Wisconsin that makes cast-iron boat anchors. "They've been doing that since the 40s, it's their bread and butter," says Linder.
Read the entire article here.