Bitcoin adoption added another notch to the stick this week when up-and-coming design company, Möbler, announced that it will be accepting Bitcoin payments for its innovative furniture design, corporate interior design and retail design services.
Möbler is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, from where the company designs and dispatches custom furniture and interiors, as well as office and shop designs to the accelerating continental African retail sector. In a radical rethink of the traditional you-come-to-us design business model, Möbler offers customers, wherever they are, an interactive design service that is conducted and settled online.
Möbler’s ability to deliver customer designs to anywhere in the world was born from the dual benefits of
- modern industry’s ability to manufacture from CAD file, and
- Bitcoin’s facility of effortless cross-border transactions.
Hence, the company can zero in on customers’ exact vision for design via an online interactive process and finally, deliver industry standard design files for manufacture at a facility in the customer’s geographic area. From a lounging sofa to trader’s desk, and from an office park in Mozambique to a fried chicken outlet in Zambia – anything you imagine can be designed, converted to a rendering format and manufactured in your locality.
At first glance, Möbler’s Concept-to-Real-World service could have worked without Bitcoin, only it would have lacked the ease, security and trustless transactions made possible by the Bitcoin payment protocol. The company’s pioneering step of decoupling design from manufacture is a logical companion to the ease and freedom offered by Bitcoin. It means that searching for that elusive piece of home or office furniture is no longer necessary – simply contact Möbler, describe it, interactively refine it, have it made locally, and pay with bitcoins!
CCN spoke with Möbler’s CEO, Markus Root, about the service, about how he arrived at this novel approach and his thoughts surrounding Bitcoin.
During our initial discussion, you mentioned that you had recently grasped the significance of Bitcoin. It’s an exciting moment when the lightbulb first switches on, so, can you tell readers what your impressions and thoughts are? What about Bitcoin excites you most?
I really like the Bitcoin motto “Be Your Own Bank” – I’m for anything that puts the power back in the citizens’ hands.
Go ahead and tell readers about your company, Möbler, and its services. Where has it come from and where is it going?
Möbler started out as a designer / maker workshop. We stopped manufacturing items and chose, instead, to focus on the design service only. Möbler recently branched out to include a retail and corporate interior design service which is expanding fast. We would love to design for companies such as Vitra, Herman Miller, and Ikea. Until we get there, we have added product design to our service offering, since there are many innovators out there who need casings and stylized covers for Bitcoin-related gadgets.
Do you find that you get requests for design work outside of the city/province where you are based – or perhaps outside of your country – and how does this impact on job delivery and invoicing?
Yes, we do – and due to modern technology we can pretty much take on work from anywhere in the world. The first obstacle to be removed was Delivery. We realized clients are willing and able to use local manufacturers and suppliers for the designs Möbler creates. Invoicing, however, posed a challenge – mostly due to factors such as exchange rates, transfer fees and banking delays.
Right, some of those challenges must have been what led the company to accepting Bitcoin payments?
Yes, and the ability to make fast, effortless payments via Bitcoin removes all of the settlement headaches for both us and our clients. Most of the risk associated with the design and delivery process simply falls away, because we are able to do our work with the knowledge that payment has been secured via our BitGo wallet using a multisig transaction. Equally, the client is not left wondering what they’re going to receive in exchange for their money, because they can approve and influence the design as it evolves.
To my mind, Bitcoin abounds with opportunity and events such as the launch of the very first Bitcoin ATM in Africa, means Bitcoin is gaining sufficient momentum to make it impossible to ignore.
In the South African design and architecture industry, is there much local awareness of Bitcoin and its benefits as a payment system? Do you think these benefits could cascade downwards to builders and the rest of the construction industry?
Unfortunately, South-Africa always seems to be a step or two behind when it comes to the adoption of new technology (although we do think this is changing.) I can only imagine that Bitcoin will have a huge impact on the industry. For example, Bitcoin would make a very good alternative payment system for the many workers in the South African labor force – most of whom do not operate bank accounts. There are a lot of offerings from local banks that try to capitalise on this (via cellphone banking & services such as ABSA’s CashSend & FNB’s eWallet) but, of course, they always take their slice of the pie.
Modern technology has removed the constraints that this would have imposed in the past. Clients can now match their needs for each job to the correct designer regardless of where in the world they find themselves. In other words, they have more options and can find the best possible fit for the project.
I imagine that, in the design industry, there must be frequent dilemmas of expectation versus delivery (smiles). What are the stages that Möbler’s design process goes through to ensure customers get what they want?
We typically start with a conversation to discuss your needs and expectations of the project – goals, timelines, budgets, and so forth. This information is collated into a quote, and as soon as we’ve agreed payment terms and milestones, we start working on your design. We produce sketches to gauge whether our vision of the design matches your own. Once both parties agree that the visions match, we get stuck in and send you detailed designs. From here there’s usually one or two more small revisions before we sign over to you for manufacture.
Mobler Design Accepts Bitcoin and their service is available internationally.
For more information see https://www.mobler.co.za/ Images by Mobler Design and Shutterstock.