Shop Visit: Pensa
Pensa means “think” in Italian, which couldn’t be more fitting for a company responsible for producing such thoughtful designs. The Dumbo-based design firm has released a slew of products in the last two years that have won awards, captivated the attention of many writers and photographers and also just made living in the modern world better.
While Pensa has a long list of corporate clients like Bic, Samsung and OXO, it’s their work with companies like Goal Zero and their recent entry into the Oregon Manifest bike design competition, Merge, that I really admire.
When Pensa invited me in to take pictures of Merge a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get a quick tour of their shop as well. In typical shop fashion it was full of drills scattered on workbenches, 3D printers, a lathe and enough tools and materials to make any maker, tinkerer or designer envious.
Last year, Pensa, in collaboration with Goal Zero, debuted the Street Charge, a solar power charging station that encourages social interaction in parks and other public spaces. It was universally appreciated by the judges of the Inc. Design Awards, a competition I helped edit. The first time I saw Street Charge, in Fort Greene, it was one of those moments when you realize the future had just become the present, like holding an iPhone for the first time. Its brilliance is simple and has, to be expected, spurred more that a few copycat type products.
Then there’s Merge, the Pensa + Horse collaboration and NYC’s entry into Oregon Manifest (see our coverage of that bike here). While Merge didn’t take home the first place prize, it offered a few design elements that I’m sure will be replicated on bikes in the future, like a disappearing fender, collapsible bike rack and integrated cell phone charging.
The most recent Pensa-designed product to come to market is the goTenna, an ingenious device that allows someone to send text messages over a phone via long-range radio waves, even where there is no cell phone reception. It’s a product ideal for bikers, backpackers and those headed into the back country and it will do doubt save lives.
Thoughtful design if there ever was indeed.