Brendan Dawes
The Art of Form and Code

Storing and Organising Physical Things with Sortly

Much of my work these days is creating physical installations, often using various components — be they digital or analogue — that I have to store and have easily to hand in the studio. My usual way of storing stuff is by item type, such as having a box, let's say it's marked micro controllers, and putting all my micro-controllers into that box. This is all fine. Then I saw a video about how Amazon store their millions of products and it made me realise I was storing my stuff completely the wrong way.

Amazon doesn't lump together product types. Instead it puts a product on any shelf and then uses a computerised system to make a note of that item, what it is and where to find it. In this way you don't have an overloaded shelf of, for example, headphones whilst the Jesus coaching baseball statue shelf is really sparse.

So I thought that's what I need to do. Forget storing things in boxes pertaining to category type and instead just put them anywhere, as long as I know where that thing is. Yet how can I do that without some crazy Amazon like system?


It was then I chanced on Sortly — an app for organising physical things, that lets you take photos of an object and make a note of where that object is. You can even barcode things if you really want to get sophisticated.

I now use this system to store my physical stuff and it works really well. I simply number boxes and then place the items I'm storing inside, adding each to Sortly as I go. I've now used this many many times to find stuff that would have been hard otherwise.

All I need now is some of those cool robots.