Kodama Zomes is a small and independent design/build company based in southern Oregon, USA. They are a team of friends and co-workers who highly value creativity, quality, and authentic design.
The founder, inventor, and lead designer of Kodama Zomes is Richie Duncan. “I have never settled for the commonplace. My life has been one of curiosity, experimentation and exploration,” he states. At a young age, Richie learned woodworking from his father and was forever deconstructing and assembling what ever he could get his hands on. His inventive and inquisitive nature continued into adulthood as he attended University of Colorado at Boulder engineering school. Duncan then went on to receive licensure in civil and structural engineering, and opened his first business in Lake Tahoe, California offering architectural design and engineering.
Although Lake Tahoe taught him much about design, engineering and running his own business, that “curiosity, experimentation and exploration" set in and propelled him to adventure the world. His travels took him to places such as Peru, Africa, India and Europe. "Travel was essential to my creative development. Especially spending time in less developed areas, it became necessary to look at common materials and designs in new ways," Duncan shared.
One such destination was Chile, where he lived and instructed courses on wood framed building systems and earthquake-resistant techniques at an educational farm and school. There he met an instructor who was a master at geodesic domes and zomes…
Duncan recalls those first moments of fate: “'What the heck is a zome? I want to learn how to build one.' The instructor just grinned and asked if I really wanted to go down that road. She must have known that I would get slightly obsessed. She agreed to show me and we built a zome together as a class - it was a little clunky and angular, but still so beautiful. After building that one, I was hooked.” The first zome that Duncan constructed while in Chile planted the seed for what was to come.
After returning home, Duncan investigated many design options, including a tomato trellis and a ferro-cement covered fort. These zomes experimented with different sizes, ratios, and number of facets. Yet still at that point all of Duncan’s zomes, and all of the zomes across the world, were made mostly of wood… and all were set upon the ground.
“If there was an a-ha moment, it came as I was camping outside on uneven ground, gazing up at the stars. I was thinking of ways to make a better foundation for the zomes, all the while fidgeting and adjusting my resting position. Then, while looking at the trees above – 'AHA, forget about making a grounded foundation for the zome… hang it from above!’ I stayed up all night brainstorming the design and the structure.”
And thus was born the hanging zome.
“The first hanging zome was built from scrap wood, duct tape, and bailing twine. I placed a 3-gallon bucket of water inside and amazingly– it held!”
From this first prototype of the hanging zome, Duncan began the patent process and continued to develop and refine the design. “In the beginning, I just loved the shape and the geometry of the zome. It simultaneously engaged the analytical engineering mind and the artistic creative mind. It wasn’t until I made a zome large enough to recline in, that I realized the perfect embodiment of the hanging zome as furniture.” Thus began the exploration into the hanging zome as a combination of art and relaxation.
As a business, Kodama Zomes started selling the first hanging zome designs in 2014, and since then has steadily grown the business, production team, and distribution. “I am proud of the Kodama Zome story," says Duncan. "Early on, my friends saw my passion and the potential for a great new invention. They joined me to help build the Kodama team, and we have created a strong foundation and a great product.”
Duncan and his team continue to design, manufacture, and distribute Kodama Zomes from their shop in Southern Oregon.
Kodama Zomes aims to provide comfort and happiness to people by having them feel secure, positively inspired, and connected to source. We do so by creating beautiful structures based on suspended zome geometry. They are beautiful, simple, and strong; complimenting nature and natural patterns.
We value health, beauty, and creativity while remaining grounded in a realistic, efficient and structurally stable foundation. Positive personal, environmental, and social health is paramount in every business decision. Our choices are deliberate to promote happiness and fairness for both employees and customers. We are the change we want in the world.
Business Model Pledge
“There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible, at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.” – Henry Ford
We wholeheartedly agree with this quote and also look deeper into the “lowest cost possible”. Too often, the only cost considered is that of the economic dollar; ignoring the cost to our health, lifestyle, and environment. At Kodama Zomes, we consider all of these costs equally important. Materials are sourced domestically, and though dollar costs may be higher, domestic sourcing ensures fairer and safer working conditions, stricter environmental pollution standards, and less material shipping. We choose our suppliers by their positive environmental practices, quality of material, and proximity. We incorporate B-corporation practices and cradle-to-cradle design. We continually research and develop new materials and methods for our zomes.
At Kodama Zomes, our pledge to protect and restore the environment is at the core of our business practices. Adopting the permaculture axiom – “The problem is the solution”, we use this as the basis of our business ethics. At every step in the life cycle of a zome, we assess environmental and social impacts.
To further our leadership as positive stewards of the land, we donate 3% of all profits to sustainable forestry management in our local area. Here in Oregon, we have seen a resurgence of clear-cut timber harvesting practices that include heavy pesticide use, soil deterioration, and massive erosion. At Kodama Zomes we are not anti-logging, but we insist on more sustainable and appropriate methods.
After all, in folklore a ‘kodama' is a tree spirit; and just like us, they can only thrive in clean and healthy environments.