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Who’s Who | Matt Tait


Graphics Tait

My name is Matthew Tait and I am currently living in Detroit, MI. I went to school to become a graphic designer, but my interests and skill-set are closer to that of an industrial designer or an engineer gone rogue.

Graphics Tait

I’ve been passionate about building things for as long as I can remember. When I was younger my favorite thing was when something broke in the house and my parents would give it to me to take apart. I’m obsessed with the inner workings of the objects around us, how they were manufactured, where the source materials come from, and how the end user interacts with them.

Graphics Tait

In 2013, after years of working in advertising developing and designing websites, apps, and traditional campaigns, I decided to start my own side project. Knowing that my interests are constantly evolving and changing, I wanted the company from the very beginning to have a wide enough concept to accommodate anything I would come up with, thus TAIT Design Co.

Graphics Tait

For my first product, I decided to tackle an iconic piece of Americana – the balsa model airplane. I had these when I was younger as did just about anyone one you ask. A bright smile often washes over an old grin, “I used to have those as a kid”. Immediately what follows is generally a laugh about how quickly they broke and somehow vaporized into thin air. I wanted to make a better one, so I started to develop the Turbo Flyer concept.

Graphics Tait

What I ended up creating was a handmade, hand screen-printed, solid body aircraft with thicker wood and better aerodynamics that came in a unique eco-friendly cardboard velcro-lock case. I started making the Turbo Flyers in my basement last year. I would go to Techshop Detroit at night and laser cut out all the balsa wood and cardboard packaging, then I would hand screen-print each part in a custom printing fixture I made.

Graphics Tait

I bent the brass tip and glued each one on the tip of the aircraft nose and glued together the packaging. It was time consuming, but they turned out great. I thought it would be cool if I sold a few of them. I launched my website, and at first the response was quite tepid and then boom! Everything went crazy and I had 30,000+ people come to my website in one weekend. I ran out of Turbo Flyers and immediately started making more. For about 6 months I spent every night making the planes, slowly working towards streamlining the process as best I could. It was challenging to say the least.

Graphics Tait

The biggest realization that I had was that I have to bring in other people to this business to move it forward, so that’s exactly what I did.  And to maintain the integrity of this business, I had to find the perfect people to work with. People that shared the same values as me: eco-consciousness, responsible sourcing, impeccable quality, and a passion for using local hands to do their trade right here in the USA.

Graphics Tait

With the Turbo Flyer, I have gone to great extents to find the right partners. The balsa wood comes from a mill in Maine, the brass comes from a supplier in Chicago, all of my printing is done at the best screen-printing shop in the country: VG Kids, and the packaging is assembled at a family owned die-cutting shop: KDG Finishers in Dearborn, MI. I personally ship all orders from my home studio in Detroit, MI.

Graphics Tait

Developing this home-brewed manufacturing process has taught me a lot, and it has also freed up some of my time to develop new products. The thing I’m most surprised about is how this little plane has had such an impact on the businesses and people I work with and how important that has become to me. When I started this project, in many ways it was about myself, but now it’s something much larger and that inspires me to keep at it. It sounds cheesy but I’ve never been more excited about the future, we have some really great stuff in the works for the end of 2014.

Graphics Tait

www.taitdesignco.com


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