Q + A
Have you charged your phone or computer lately at one DUMBO’s amazing street charge stations (you know the ones, they’re attached to our DUMBO umbrellas.) If so, then you have Pensa to thank! From street charging, to urban bikes to our very own Live at the Archway sign, Pensa is an industrial design firm that’s been innovating in the neighborhood since 2005.
We sat down with co-founders Kathy Larchian and Marco Perry to learn more about who they are and what they do.
What are the origins of Pensa?
Pensa was founded in 2005 by Marco Perry and Kathy Larchian. We are built on a love for great design and a passion to improve people’s lives through amazing products and experiences.
Is there a story behind your name?
Pensa means “think” in many Latin languages, and it’s what we like to do most. Besides, it sounds great if you say it with an Italian accent! (Marco was born in Italy.)
What kind of work do you do, and what makes you unique?
Pensa is the Brooklyn creative force behind D.I.Wire, Street Charge, Merge urban bicycle, goTenna, and OneBlade razor. We are a design and invention firm — our most common refrain is “there must be a better way.” We are a talented, diverse and passionate team, known for our ability to create beautiful functionality.
Can you tell me about recent project you have particularly enjoyed working on?
In the last two years we have been increasingly working with start-up companies. We are very familiar with the challenges and rewards of starting up a new company, not only for our clients but for ourselves as well. Products – hard goods, I mean, not digital products – take about a 18-24 months to move from concept to production to launch. This year we are sharing news of new products (and new companies!) that we have helped launch.
One example we love is the launch product for the Brooklyn based start-up goTenna, co-founded by Daniela and Jorge Perdomo. Daniela and Jorge were inspired to create the product during Hurricane Sandy. They wanted a solution to get in touch with friends and family in crowded places or areas of no service. They had the technology, but needed a product. We began our work by asking ourselves these questions: How will people know what this device does? What types of functionality, characteristics and feedback should the product have? How and where will people carry it? What should it look and feel like? What are appropriate materials? What should the design language of the product express and how can that become the core of the goTenna brand? The design needed to be robust, simple and confident. A user would need to be able to attach it to his or her body or backpack in a variety of ways. The length of the antenna necessary to achieve the proper range was known and would likely be cumbersome to carry when not in use. We knew it needed to be collapsible. We concentrated on a simple and confident design language. Clean, bold forms with no extraneous details made sense. Once the design language for the goTenna was established, we developed and engineered the product for production, working closely with the manufacturer. We also designed the retail packaging to communicate in a busy retail environment. The result is a complete product design story that we are extremely proud of.
We have been in DUMBO since our beginning! We embraced and were embraced back by this incredible community. So much has changed since early 2006! And the community remains strong, creative, intelligent and fun.
Do you have a favorite spot in DUMBO?
We are currently enjoying the new Jay Street entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge Park!