Jeffrey McGrew's blog

Meet us at Maker Faire, tomorrow, for our talk: The Secrets of Secret Doors!

Meet us tomorrow, May 21st, at Maker Faire for our talk: "The Secrets of Secret Doors"!

Having made several secret doors, it's a subject we simply love. Really looking forward to sharing the practical and pragmatic tips on the unpractical practice of building secret doors.

We're on at the Maker Live Stage at 4:30 PM, and wandering around the Faire the rest of the day.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Submit to the Core77 awards!

Got a cool project? Then submit it to the Core77 Awards!

We're honored to have been picked as judges on the 'Maker / DIY / Hack / Mod' category by our good friends over at Looking forward to it!

Core77 is one of our steady design blogs we check in on for great ideas, exposure to the new new, and inspiration. Well, and it doesn't hurt that they talk about us every so often either.

You've got about a week to show us what you've got!

Come see our talk on Digital Fabrication at the KAConnect 2011 in San Francisco

We're proud to announce that we've been invited to give a talk at a wonderful conference: the 2011 KA Connect in San Francisco.

KA Connect is an interesting conference on knowledge sharing, knowledge management, and workflow process with a focus on the building industry. The list of attendees is really impressive so we're really honored to be included!

We'll be giving a Pecha-Kucha style talk on our special seven-step process for digital fabrication that's become a cornerstone in the way we deliver totally awesome projects using modern computer modeling and computer-automated tools.

Hope to see you there!

Open house! April 14th 2011 EatFoodTalkShop

It's April, and with things finally warming up, let's get together for food and to talk shop!

Thankful that the rain has let up, the sun is out, and it is warm in Oakland! We're finishing up a fantastic resin-inlayed desk inspired by turn-of-the-century safe locks and a whole mess of fun trade booth elements for Clif Bar's kids line. We also have a handful of office interiors gearing up that look like they're gonna be a lot of fun. And our Maker Faire talk on the secrets of secret doors was accepted! So now we need to hear all your secret door stories and/or dreams.

What are you working on? We'd like to see and hear about it!

So please drop on by, we'd love to see you. Sadly, Jeffrey has been too busy to make beer, so while we'll have some it would be awesome if you could bring some too. We'll hang out. Eat some tasty snacks, and talk about the finer points of what we're all working on. Come join our community of designers, artists, big thinkers, and fabricators!

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words. You have been warned!

Thursday, April 14th 2011

6:30PM - 9:30PMish

2500 Kirkham St

Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 922-8846

Click here for the Google Map.

Hope to see you here!

Lost? Lonely? Want to debate the finer points of 19th century safe design? BWC help line: 510-922-8846

Business shouldn't waste money on their offices

So with our recent press, a common comment came up that goes something like this:

"Business shouldn't waste money on their offices".

To which we couldn't agree more. Businesses need spaces that work. More than that, they also need spaces that support their vision and agenda.

But at the same time, businesses need to keep things reasonable, and not spend money they don't really need to.

Now, you may think that some of our more creative offices we've done for companies are more folly than functional. However, let's take a closer look at one of our past projects: the offices of Three Rings.


Three Rings is a small creative game design studio. They live (and die) off of how good their people are. Unlike a big game company like EA, with armies of people, Three Rings is tiny, tight, and very talented. So one of the primary concerns with their office was to make it a place where their talent would love to work, and to make it a place other talented people would love to work at. This not only draws in talented people, but it makes them perform at their best.


Three Rings also really wanted to create a real place. Instead of an office people dreaded to be at, they wanted a place where everyone was happy to be. Since the new office was completed, it's not uncommon for everyone to spend a lot more time at the office, even if it's just playing games into the evening. Better teams, better relationships, and better communication all come from happier people spending time together.


Another big concern was expression of vision. Instead of looking like every other game company with their seas of Ikea desks and dismal offices, Three Rings wanted to wear their hearts on their sleeves; to say loudly that they are a creative company like no other. Many talk about being innovative, yet few really follow through with that. Clearly communicating that is a key part of their marketing.


Finally, Three Rings wanted a clear way to express their vision of being a small yet terribly creative company to other companies and investors. They knew that any potential employee or VC that walked in the door and was scared off at how over-the-top the office is would very likely be someone that they wouldn't want to work with. By clearly showing their vision it's much easier for them to find other people who may share that vision and want to help make it bigger and better.

Study after study shows that a better office makes for more productive and happier people. And having an office that matches your company's vision is a vital part of marketing and communicating what your company is all about.

More productive people + happy workers + clear communication + vision = more money being made.

Or, you could look at it this way too:

Inefficient people + unhappy people + muddled marketing + no vision = bad business.

When you add into the fact that due to our special process and talented people here at Because We Can the cost of the Three Rings office was totally reasonable.

We were able to design and build the whole Three Rings office for less than it would have cost of nice-but-depressing office cubes.

Sure, it costs more than just parking everyone at an Ikea desk, but just think: that boring-but-normal office that's not much more than cubes, a break room, and maybe a ping-pong table could instead be a vibrant expression of your company's core. While also making everyone there more productive and happier. And making everyone more money!

So we agree: businesses shouldn't waste their money. Which is something a boring, poorly designed office actually does.

We got interviewed on Adafruit's Ask An Engineer!

Last week while in NYC we dropped in on Adafruit Industries. Run by the brilliant Limor and Phillip, they design and make and sell kits and parts for all your electronic project needs. We're big fans! We're excited they had us sit for a short interview for their great "Ask An Engineer" weekly internet show:

Ask an Engineer 3/19/2011 from adafruit industries on Vimeo.

Thanks Adafruit Industries! Totally inspiring to see you guys. They were nice enough to also give us a copy of the latest Wired that Limor is on the cover of (go Limor!) and a Ardino starter kit that we can't wait to begin playing with.

If you want to jump ahead and just watch the interview with us (and not the whole show above) then watch the video below instead. But the whole show is way better, we're so totally buying some of those new color-changing flexible LED strips for our private office library project...

because we can from adafruit industries on Vimeo.

Thanks again you two!

Autodesk IDEAS Conference

In late January, we were honored to be last-minute invites to Autodesk's new IDEAS conference.

Part Foo, part mini-TED, part book-launch party, it was a really incredible experience. We got to meet lots of other amazing people and share all sorts of subjects. As part of a company that is strong on how and weak on why, it's always fun to bring our pragmatic and hands-on vision to the big ideas table!

There was a big focus on 'Design Thinking' and the value design has for business, our communities, and our world. Some talks from some amazing folks, then some creative break-out workshops, and of course, lots of conversations over lunch and dinner.

While we're huge fans of Autodesk's tools (especially Revit) the focus on the conference was less about Autodesk and more about just doing amazing things, no matter what tools were used.

One really cool feature of the conference was the visual documentation via photos and cartooning that was going on. Conversations were captured in a really compelling and concise way, while it was happening, by a team of amazing illustrators in the wings. Their handiwork can be seen in the great PDF summary of the conference you can see here. And cameras were everywhere, with the resulting Flickr stream here.

We were really jazzed to meet some of the people from Bespoke, who also do digital fabrication (i.e. make stuff with robots) but instead of custom interiors & furniture, they make amazing artificial limbs.

All in all, a simply amazing time. We hope to get the chance to go again!

March 10th 2011 EatFoodTalkShop - Because We Can's monthly open house / BBQ

Wait, it's March already? Indeed, so let's get together for food and talking shop!

You'd think that the fact that we're now officially a Corporation we'd be a little more formal about our events. But then what sort of corporation does what we do? Come see our latest projects, everything from a geek's dream of a TARDIS to a whole subdivision of houses in San Diego. Or just come to hang out with other designers, artists, big thinkers, and fabricators.

To our local friends, we'd love to see you, and to our NYC friends, we'll see you soon!

Catch up with us now, for next week we'll be in NYC bopping about. We'll have food and drink and lots to talk about, so please come by!

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words. You have been warned!

Thursday, March 10th 2011

6:30PM - 9:30PMish

2500 Kirkham St

Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 922-8846

Click here for the Google Map.

Hope to see you here!

Lost? Lonely? Want to hear more than you'll ever want to know about the TARDIS? BWC help line: 510-922-8846

February 10th 2011 EatFoodTalkShop - Because We Can's monthly open house / BBQ

The weather is warming up, and it's February! So let's have a crab boil and talk shop.

It's our first EatFoodTalkShop of 2011, and we're excited for the new year! We've got lots going on, and would love to catch up with you. We're doing it in style this month with a big crab boil. We'll have some live crab on hand, you should bring one to share, or some other goodies, and we'll break into the pumpkin homebrew.

Come by and see our stunning new meeting lounge & library!

We've been busy redoing our digs, and have turned the downstairs entry space into a cozy and relaxing 'meeting library / lounge' complete with lovely new bookshelf benches. We've also recently redone our website, and are turning ourselves into a corporation so that we can offer up more Architectural services. Lots to show and talk about.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words. You have been warned!

Thursday, February 10th 2011

6:30PM - 9:30PM

2500 Kirkham St

Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 922-8846

Click here for the Google Map.

Hope to see you here!

Lost? Lonely? Want someone to go to lunch with? BWC help line: 510-922-8846

The travel-size Wikipedia globes we had 3D printed are up on the Wikipedia thank you page!

So you may remember the wall-hung 3D Wikipedia logo we made a while ago when we were helping them out with redoing their offices.

Well, we took that same 3D model (done in Blender!) and we 3D printed small, round versions as well. They came out great!

Wikipedia has a picture of one up on their thank you page right now. Check it out!

We were really happy how they came out. Thanks to Ideate for the local printing services.


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