More than a rendering – Experience, Design, and the lessons learned

Good design is like a refrigerator—when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn’t, it sure stinks.
— Irene Au

Watching a crane place a DROP Structure everything seems so simple. The truck pulls up, and the crane attaches, then lifts it off, before placing it on the prepared pad. After that, it’s plugged in and ready to go.

It’s a simple process that takes most clients about four hours, with a team of a few people. But the work that went into making it so straightforward took place long before the structure was put on the truck – or even before construction began.

“We’ve got 2 years of research and development behind each DROP Structure,” Ryan Abernathy, co-founder of DROP Structures said. “We started with the idea that it should be able to be sold on Amazon, so we’ve put a lot of work into making sure it’s turnkey.”

It’s this design approach that sets DROP Structures apart from their competitors.

Design beyond the rendering

Look at Instagram and you’ll see plenty of renderings, or prototype builds, from DROP Structures and a variety of other design and build firms. For Ryan, looking at these designs, and the ideas companies and people are coming out with is inspirational.

“We’re seeing a lot of companies pushing out these beautiful renderings, and I love each and every one of them,” Ryan said. “Some of these designers are pushing it to the next level, which pushes us to do the same. But what lots of people don’t know is that many of these companies have never built, much less shipped a unit.”

For the DROP Structure’s crew, that first, beautiful rendering is only part of the real design – the first baby step in creating something great. The complete design of every DROP Structure is holistic, incorporating the customer experience, from sale to installation, along with the aesthetics and usability of the final product.

Taking a look behind the scenes at the design + build industry

There’s always something behind the rendering, whether that’s a guy on a computer, years of research and design, or lessons learned the hard way – through experience.

Peer behind the curtain at DROP Structures and you’d find all three, and a bit more. There’s been a lot of lessons learned over the three years they’ve existed, including how to ship a building and have it travel 1000s of miles, all over North America, and remain beautiful.

The struggle, at times, has been incredibly difficult, but for Ryan the beauty in the struggle is that the heartbreak and mistakes have all been kept in house.

“We’ve worked through a lot of issues other design and build companies will be dealing with,” Ryan said. “But we took it upon ourselves to deal with a lot of the heartache here in the shop, instead of letting our clients deal with it.”

That’s a major part of the reason that DROP Structures are designed to plug and play. When the work needs to happen onsite, it opens the installation process up to an array of problems that can lead to lengthening deadlines and lower quality buildings.

So when a DROP Structure leaves headquarters, it’s as finished as possible – no heartache included. 

Designing for the real world

Ryan, who takes most of DROP Structure’s photos, is proud of their Instagram account, and the response it’s created in people around the world. But despite the response, it’s not the pictures he’s most proud of – it’s the way everyone in the company has put in hours to make sure their Instagram account isn’t just another beautiful thing to look at.

Instead, there are DROP Structures sitting in California and Canada, and sprinkled everywhere in between, with plans to continue the expansion. 

The first DROP Structure delivered was huge. We learned so much from that one building and it’s changed how we do almost everything.
— Ryan Abernathy

Now, the team has their eyes on new units and new methods of delivery, but they’ll never forget those first lessons, or how responding to them quickly and intelligently allowed them to deliver a product to a happy customer.

A turnkey solution, shipped to your door

It’s the so-called ‘Amazon model’ that allows DROP Structures to make the promises they do, and to keep them.

That means no matter where you are in North America, you can design and order a DROP Structure that will arrive on your doorstep ready for installation. All you need is a pad to put it on, a crane to pick it up, and a 120V plugin. 

So while other companies will brag about their beautiful designs, the DROP Structures crew know their designs are more than just beautiful – they’re simple and effective. That’s a promise few other companies can make.

Jordana Gagnon