Graypants: Design stories to lighten the heart
TEXT: SCHEENAGH HARRINGTON | PHOTOS; PHOTOS: GRAYPANTS
Fifteen years ago, two architecture school students, wearing the same grey sweatpants, found they had a common instinct about what design should be. That vision eventually became Graypants, a Seattle and Amsterdam-based company that aims to not only bring beauty and illumination to their customers’ lives, but to tell the stories of the people bringing their designs to life.
Graypants co-founder Seth Grizzle admits he’s a “hopeless romantic”, with a business ethic based on Rumi’s timeless advice: ‘let the beauty of what you love be what you do’. Combined with a love and curiosity about nature, he’s never short of inspiration for the firm’s exquisite lighting.
“We had a total solar eclipse, and I went down to see it. It was such an awe-inspiring moment – you really can’t describe it until you’re in that kind of presence – but our whole Chrona series was based on seeing the corona when the moon blocks out the sun.”
Grizzle’s love of nature means sustainability is more than just a label. “We want to be good stewards of the planet. We don’t need another excuse to buy ‘stuff’. We want it to be meaningful, to tell a story and have an impact, and we don’t want it to rob the planet of much.”
A meeting at a New York trade show resulted in the Amsterdam branch of Graypants, run by Arno Ruijzenaars. He initially offered to be a distributor in the Benelux region, but Grizzle came back with a very different proposition: “I told him I had a bigger vision about using local materials and local areas,” he said, adding, “and doing social work programmes for people with needs and different skill sets than we do.”
It led to a partnership with social works programme IBN, which employs people with different skill sets, whose names are written onto every single Graypants product. “It just makes your heart smile,” says Grizzle. “These are our eyes, these are faces, these are hands that make these objects: that’s what makes them special.”
He plans to continue expanding the business to be a leader in the lighting space. Graypants is working with more “designers, artisans and craftspeople”: bringing their stories to the world to make it just that bit brighter.
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Receive our monthly newsletter by email