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True Utility History

The History

True Utility is a British design company that creates clever and original products that belong in people’s pockets, giving them minimalist practical solutions to everyday problems.

Originality and practicality is the key to our brand - even our crystal clear presentation packaging is reusable. Whether you need to fix something, write something down, see in the dark, trim your nails, open a cold bottle of beer, or simply need some emergency cash – True Utility has a perfectly practical tool for you.

We are located in the South West of England. We have a small UK design team led by Lee Berman who has been designing products for over 20 years in the UK. In August 2014, we proudly sold the company to ASG Group in Dallas, Texas, USA and are now working with the Bollinger Brothers who have spent the last 40 years building an innovative flashlight and sporting brand. The future of True Utility has never looked so bright and with the bigger team, vision and resources of the ASG team, we are very excited about what we will be inventing and selling in the near future

The Concept

Make it smaller, more streamlined. And, by all means, able to DO as much as possible. Pack it in! But not in a way that weighs heavily and slows you down. Be prepared for anything, but not by carrying far too much.

Lee had just finished a stint in the tourism business. He’d converted a vintage bus into a mobile hostel, with seats that folded into beds - fully equipped with all manner of camping essentials aboard. The bus was like a giant Multi-tool - usefully touring all over the wildest and most far flung parts of Turkey and Southern Europe.

But this mobile setup was still too cluttered and burdensome for his growing minimalist leanings. He parked the latest bus in then-Yugoslavia and set out on foot with only a backpack. And now he decided to get rid of the pack, too. He carried just his sleeping bag tied with a belt across his shoulder, with a change of clothes, notebook, old pen knife, and a few other essentials rolled inside.

The Craftsmanship

And so Lee Berman’s journey continued to grow ever more compact. He studied for 5 years as an apprentice to a master cabinet maker - to become a furniture designer, inspired by Moroccan tables made of interlocking wooden slats that could be hung on the wall between uses. His fascination with all things folding and multi useful continued… 

This was followed by a 2 year apprenticeship in classic car restoration and metal fabrication working directly with one of the most skilled fabrication experts in the UK.

Taking these experiences with design and form and fabrication he embarked on his ultimate adventure: designing pocket tools.

“I’ve always had a fascination with creating products that not only look good but are as small and useful as possible” Lee explains.

For him, it was about freedom and self-sufficiency, living light whilst being ready for whatever may come. All of Lee’s divergent skills folded inside a man who wanted to live life to the fullest, with a spontaneous creativity and sense of adventure.

Out of this sensibility evolved the TU mantra. No wasted space, no unnecessary stuff. Strip it all down to the nuts and bolts, making room for all the really, really good bits. The stuff you actually need. True Utility means quite simply ‘Really Useful’.