Why Altere Studios

Hey, it's Alberto here.

Alex, Toby and I started on this journey because we’ve always been obsessed with thoughtful design and wanted to bring something thoughtful of our own into the world. We never had some sort of eureka moment or big mission to prove: we’re just trying to create something people love, that does them good, and doesn’t do any harm to the planet. But the way we’re doing it is different to how we’ve done things before, and says a lot about the kind of business we’re trying to build.

Shop here to get your Altere, or keep reading to learn more.

With previous projects, once we were satisfied with a design and had some materials in mind, we’d reach out to different manufacturers, get some samples made, and pick a partner to manufacture for us at scale. This is how 99% of all products are designed and made these days - and for most of them it's the best way to get something quality to market at a reasonable price. But every time we’ve done this, we’ve always found ourselves crippled by compromises we didn’t fully understand.

We wanted to use a certain material or method, but our partner could only work with another material or had tooling for a different approach. We simply didn’t know enough about these third party materials or machinery to make the right calls. We didn’t own the process.

What inevitably happened was we were forced into making something that was “kind of” like the thing we designed, but also missed many of the little details that made it truly thoughtful, and therefore lovable. This also explains why workout equipment has never really been disrupted. Delivering thoughtful design at scale requires custom machinery and manufacturing processes that don’t make economic sense for well-established fitness players already enjoying +200% margins on cast iron free weights.

As we explain here, Alteres can only be so thoughtfully designed because of their material: because they are made from cementitious composite and stone, not metal. And importantly, since our composite is easily cast without toxic additives or dangerous temperatures, we can actually make them ourselves. As a result, we can own the entire production process - staying close to every detail and compromise all the way from initial idea to final delivery.

None of us had any experience with moulding or casting before this project, but we’ve always been committed to crafting anything we put into people’s hands and homes ourselves. So, even before we started designing our first Bells, we knew we’d be making in small batches, by hand.

To us, this is the difference between something that’s manufactured and something that’s crafted: manufacturing involves shipping tasks out in the interest of cost and scale; crafting means recognising what you’re capable of and figuring out how to bring something thoughtful to life with your own hands.

Perhaps most importantly, crafting thoughtfully means that the place we build Altere as a business is the same place we make and test every edition: our London studio. Altere owes a lot to architects and architecture (more on that here), and we believe deeply in the power of a sense of place and space to transform the things and people in them.

Our products are Alteres (from the ancient Greek for “free weight” - haltere), and we are the studio that brings them to life. Wherever it may be, an Altere Studio is a space for big ideas and slow movements, where our friends, partners and community gather to share stories and connect consciously with themselves and the space around them.

We hope to see you at one soon.

If you’ve enjoyed the read, perhaps you’d like to join our community by subscribing to our newsletter, dive into our Principles of Thoughtful Design, or find out more about Edition 01: Bell.