Co-founder and lead designer Dan Black was born in Yorkshire in 1974. His father and grandfather before him had a factory that made shoes and bags. He always had a fascination for design and grew up discussing products around the family kitchen table.
He studied Industrial Design at Northumbria University, where previous graduates include Jony Ive (ex head of design at Apple). As part of his degree, he interned at the prestigious consultancies of IDEO (London) and Frog Design (California). He graduated in 1996 with a First Class Honours Degree. For the first year after graduating, he worked for Studio Brown in Bath. Then in 1998, he founded Black+Blum with Martin Blum, his Swiss friend and fellow design graduate from Northumbria University.
Although the business started as a consultancy creating products for other companies, their passion lay in developing and selling their own designs and they launched their first range of lighting in 2000. These were simple figurative/playful designs that they made and assembled themselves in batch production. They were an instant hit and the range quickly grew. In 2002 they entered the homeware market with the launch of their award-winning and iconic ‘James the doorman’ doorstop. Other award-winning designs swiftly followed with the ‘Propello’ fan, ‘High & Dry’ dishrack, ‘Hot Pot’ barbecue and ‘Loop’ candelabra.
In 2010 they launched their first lunch box ‘Box Appetit’. It took inspiration from Japan, a country that had developed the designs of Bento lunch boxes into an art form. At the time, the West was making do with boring, waxy plastic food containers. ‘Box Appetit’ was the first adult lunchbox that catered for Western cuisine and presented food beautifully, greatly improving the users eating experience.
In 2011, they took further inspiration from Japan, by introducing their first filter water bottle ‘Eau Good’. The Japanese have been using this type of active charcoal to filter their water for centuries, but the ‘Eau Good’ design adapted it for on-the-go. The design was aimed at encouraging users to stop buying bottled water, by making their tap water taste great.
In 2014 Dan took over the reins of the organisation. In 2018 Black + Blum began to focus solely on the ‘food and drink on-the-go’ product category: lunch boxes, water bottles, thermoses and accessories.
Today, the business has gained wide spread international recognition as their designs feed into the growing world awareness of health, wellness, and especially sustainability.
Every product they release is developed in-house and is unique to them. They have won over 25 international design awards. They are passionate about creating genuinely functional and innovative products that offer something better than what is already on the market. To name just a few of their innovations, they were the first company to launch an adult lunch box that organised the contents beautifully and catered for Western foods, a natural charcoal on-the-go filter bottle, a food thermos that incorporated a non-folding spoon, an all stainless steel leak-proof lunch box, a lightweight leak-proof glass lunch box.
Their products are sold in over 60 countries and in over 1000 stores from museum/design shops such as MoMA NY, to supermarkets such as Wholefoods. They are personally used by some of the most well known food experts, nutritionists and clean living advocates the world over and they continue to create innovative designs that encourage people to lead a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.