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Dreaming in 3D: Inside dTank’s Custom Furniture Firm

For David Navarro Collins, president of custom furniture fabricator dTank, the daily question he tasks his team with is: How? Whether it’s coming up with materials and engineering solutions to bring clients’ visions to life, figuring out how to move an oversized piece into a building, or even navigating pandemic technology, he spoke with us about how his team answers that question.

D.LAB
DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS
D.LAB

Creativity is the backbone of any designer’s success. What’s something you do to keep that energy flowing?

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

Definitely get your 8 hours of rest, a morning workout, and a few minutes to meditate. This way your mind is clear and rested and ready to create.

D.LAB

A love of collaborating with our clients is something that both the dTank and Durasein teams value in their process, how do you cultivate that spirit throughout the company at large?

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

Having the right team is very important. dTank has been fortunate to have a team that has a strong passion for furniture design and furniture fabrication. Our clients keep us on our toes with creative ideas and concepts.

D.LAB

Where do you think the design industry still has room to grow?

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

The design industry will always grow and change as the world evolves, just as we’ve seen with the pandemic. The workplace has to be reworked to accommodate current CDC regulations.

D.LAB

Have you ever had a total “crash and burn” project? If so, how did the outcome shape your perspective today?

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

Being that every project we do is custom, we have to make sure we get it right the first time. But for one project in New York City, the client had the wrong dimensions for the freight elevator and the reception desk we made had no luck making it to the 14th floor. We had to rent a crane and have the windows removed from the building to fit the desk into the space.

D.LAB

Does creativity “strike” you? Or is it more of a deliberate process? 

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

For us, it is a process. Our clients already have a conceptual design for the space, and our job is to execute the project with smart engineering and material selection.

D.LAB

What lesson do you wish you had learned sooner/more easily?

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

To trust your gut when it comes to fabrication/engineering. Furniture fabrication is a skilled trade that isn’t taught anymore and becoming a dying breed.

D.LAB

As dTank’s president, you have the morale of an entire company to maintain– how has the past year changed your leadership style? Have you found it more difficult to keep the spirits high and teamwork strong?

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

This past year was tough on us, as it was for everyone in our industry. The commercial furniture industry was one of the hardest hit. But it is my job to keep a level head and stay focused for my team. My wheels started turning as soon as the first lockdown happened in LA. I was very transparent with my team, and having weekly team meetings was helpful. We are a very collaborative team, and everyone contributed in every way possible for us to make it through these tough times.

D.LAB

You all understand what it means to be “on the pulse”, tracking trends in both design and technology so that you stay running at the front of the pack. What recent development on either of these fronts is currently exciting you most?

DAVID NAVARRO COLLINS

I would have to say technology. As we saw with the pandemic, we had to rely on technology, from Zoom meetings becoming a norm to large virtual conferences. Now as we head back into the office, technology will play a huge role as we schedule conference rooms, desks, and office space all through an app.

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