Andrew Neyer: Manifesto – Less junk, more Stuff

In 2010, I started designing products I wanted to own. Rather than partnering with a company, I began Producing my designs myself.

My open-range collection of products is titled, Stuff By Andrew Neyer.

What is Stuff?

Stuff is anything I design and Produce.  

• simple 
• timeless 
• useful 
• familiar 
• fantastic

This list is my guide for all of my designs. Each filter refines the design to the essentials. When I work down my list towards familiar, it’s likely another designer has already beat me to the idea. It is deflating when I’m geekin’ out on my newest “brilliant idea” and then find it has already been done before. A positive takeaway from this occurrence is that I find the work of other designers who have similar tastes.

When a concept hits all the marks, it is a thrill. The best products have a strange ability to be understood even when it is the first time you encounter them. These products make the best Stuff.

What is junk?

Junk is anything of little meaning, worth, consideration, or significance. Junk is often found in a landfill, and in the careless words said in an argument.  

In conversations with Friends & Family, I would hear them vent, “We need less stuff,” as they expressed being overwhelmed by the contents of their homes. I would always reply with a mocking, “You need less junk,” (because, in my case, Stuff is what made my home better).

I inadvertently created the tagline, “Less junk, more Stuff.”

This phrase has become my life’s mantra. It identifies a problem and proposes a solution. What junk is in my life? How can I design something that functions better and is also: simple, timeless, useful, familiar, and fantastic.

My favorite part is when the tagline is shortened to “Less junk.” This shortened phrase now becomes a universal campaign to design better, and is not dependent on my products as the only solution. It is a call to action and a target to focus my design efforts. My best designs will be ones that remove junk, waste, and debt (financial and metaphorical) from people’s lives.      

I believe good design solves problems, and bad design creates them.

This is why I design simple and timeless Stuff, so you can Live brighter. 

“Design must be an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the needs of men. It must be more research-oriented, and we must stop defiling the earth itself with poorly-designed objects and structures.” 


When designing a product, I consider the following options:

  1. User Produced
  2. Licensed
  3. Produced

Understanding which method is most appropriate is essential to avoid producing more junk.

Click, click, click…

User Produced

A User Produced product is made, created, sourced, built, or assembled by the end-user. The user is the top priority.  

A User Produced product takes into account any objects and materials the end-user can source themselves. Instead of leveraging connections to materials and processes, this production method encourages the free distribution of resources and Producing only the items the user cannot source themselves. 

“If comedy kills pretentiousness, the Penguin Press decal is kryptonite.”

Another motivation for designing User Produced products is that they are often inexpensive to distribute and sometimes even free. Getting as many resources and value to the user is the goal, without needing to monetize every valuable component.

“Wikipedia is an online free-content encyclopedia project helping to create a world in which everyone can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. It is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on a model of openly editable content. The name “Wikipedia” is a blending of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia. Wikipedia’s articles provide links designed to guide the user to related pages with additional information.

Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism.”

The critical difference in User Produced products is that profit is taking a backseat. This is not to say that profit is void, but it is not what makes the product successful. A User Produced product is successful based on the scale of its interest. The profit is merely a result. Something else happens when profit is not the focus; the user can become the priority. When a user is the priority of a product, the design improves. When the user is not a priority, we are at risk of designing junk.


A Licensed product is manufactured by a company (licensee) based on a licensing agreement made with the designer (licensor). Profit is the top priority, but remember that profit as a priority is the licensee’s interest. The designer’s, or licensor’s priority, is designing a product that can be profitable.  

This production method uses an existing company’s experience to leverage their efficient manufacturing and distribution. It is often the better route to providing the user with a lower cost product. If a design requires too much production costs, tooling, expertise, or material sourcing for a designer to Produce, a good option may be to license the product. Access to specialized production methods can be a significant advantage in bringing a design to life, but it also comes with its challenges. 

Trendy products are at the greatest risk of going out of fashion, and therefore not very profitable. This is because the product has not been proven to survive in the market, and results in inventory being made based on data projections. The ideal product to license is one that is timeless.

“You can reach timelessness if you look for the essence of things and not the appearance. The appearance is transitory — the appearance is fashion, the appearance is trendiness — but the essence is timeless.”

My decision to license the light fixture came down to, “This is a good opportunity to bring a design of mine to life, and I don’t have to Produce it.” Since its launch, it has remained a best-seller and has sold over 10,000 units. There were material and finish choices changed without my consent, but those types of changes were expected based on the license agreement’s terms. CB2 tweaked the design to ease production overseas and to match the finishes they felt fit their customer’s tastes.

A Licensed product is a profit-driven model. Profit is the reward from adding actual, or perceived, value to a product. The secret to highly profitable products; they add a lot of value. (Your taste and design principles are the best tools you have to create value.) Because profit is the priority, the product will inevitably be discontinued if its interest and profit decline. Good design can live here, but it will always have to wrestle with its appetite for profit.


A Produced product is a product manufactured by or overseen by the designer. The design is the top priority.  

Because of this, it can be tough to make Produced goods affordable and accessible. This is the most challenging and exciting category of design for me because I want to create affordable, good designs.  

After years of Producing, I began asking myself whether or not a reproduction undermines the original work or becomes something better? 

The decision to bring a design into production is a responsibility all designers must face. Instead of asking, “Would someone buy this?” or “Could this be profitable?” I ask myself, “Does this product make someone’s life brighter?” (the lights I design, when turned on, always hit the mark ッ). It is the most personal question I can ask myself because I have to feel the object’s positive impact on my life first.  

Do not choose colorways and materials for a product based on trend, but instead search for a palette that elevates the concept. Being aware of trends is helpful, but recognizing where concept-driven choices and trends overlap is the more valuable skill to hone. 

“Great creativity involves having good taste, but it also about saying something that needs to be said right now. It is finding a balance between timeliness and timelessness.”

“Much of modern art is devoted to lowering the threshold of what is terrible.” 

My design process is centered on reimagining familiar forms to inspire a new use of ordinary objects. The process involves a series of reductions until the design feels effortless.

Let’s bring it home.

Understanding the different production methods and their priorities are essential to making “Less j𝘶n𝘬, more Stuff.” 

To illustrate again how the methods of production differ, consider the following scenario:  

I designed and fabricated a 120 x 44 x 30″ powder-coated steel table for my house because I couldn’t find a kid-proof one I loved. Several people love the table and ask if they can buy one. Should I…?

Option 1: User Produced 

Sell the table plans for $1–99 and provide local fabrication contact information. The User Produces the table by contacting the fabricator and pays them the quoted $1,215 to fabricate and powder-coat.

Option 2: Licensed

License the table design to a company located in North Carolina, and they sell it for $1,750.

Option 3: Produced

Produce the table and sell it online for $2,500.

“The life of a designer is a life of fight: fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design.”

We don’t need more stuff to love; we need less junk getting in the way.


Design Your Life.

Everyday, you design your life by choosing what you love and how you love. Be more patient. Take the stairs. Look for ways to elevate objects and others to better-suited environments. Learn about their problems and solve them. This is how to design everything and Live brighter.

You survived!

Now, go rid the World of j𝘶n𝘬.

This Manifesto was made possible by:

Originally published 10/28/2020
Edited 1/1/2022, 5/1/2022, 1/6/2023

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