I remember the day Betsey, Sam Farber’s wife told me the story of how OXO was born. Her hands had begun to hurt because of arthritis and she was having a hard time in the kitchen. She couldn’t grip the utensils well or without pain. She and Sam loved to cook so this was a big deal. Sam saw this as an opportunity, not a problem, and turned to Smart Design in New York to design kitchen gear that Betsy could hold and use. And hey, why not design kitchen gear that EVERYONE could use easily. The fat handles of Good Grips products was born–as was a great company, OXO.
I met Sam after he had founded and sold Copco (and yes, his uncle had founded FarberWare). Sam was actually retired. OXO was his second company. He would go on to startup a third with his son.
Sam was at the center of a tight circle of great design people. Pattie Moore did amazing research on the elderly and went on to create one of the great consultancies. Sam and Pattie established Universal Design as a credible design strategy.
Sam sat on the board of the extraordinary IIT Institute of Design, lead by Patrick Whitney. He helped make this program one of the world’s best graduate programs in design.
But most of all, Sam sat and talked. I could always get him for long lunches to talk about stuff. I’m old enough now to know that age does not automatically bring wisdom. Only a few truly unique souls attain it. Sam was one of them.
I am stunned at his sudden leaving and I will miss him forever.