IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | urbanproduct

This is the 1st in a series of 10 posts where we will be placing the spotlight on the amazing talent signed up for the IIDEX Woodshop initiative. This week: urbanproduct.

urbanproduct was founded in 2009 by Scottish-born Stephen Lindsay. They focus on creating fun and functional handcrafted furniture and products with a strong environmental ethos. We dropped Stephen a line earlier this week to pick his brain with a few questions.

ideacious: IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it — a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees the Emerald Ash Borer will bring down over the next 5 years. How do you plan to embrace this narrative through the work you submit?

Stephen Lindsay: We plan to submit furniture items that show their raw form, their construction and source — to help tell the story of what they are and what they are made from. We’ve always enjoyed ‘honesty of construction’ so we don’t hide elements that are integral to the manufacture of our objects — but at the same time, we find a lot of people have a disconnect with the process and the techniques, not to mention the time and labour, involved in taking part of a tree, and making it part of our living spaces. Toronto is such an amazingly green city and so many of us appreciate the trees that surround us — but to enable people to understand that those trees can be part of our indoor spaces too will be amazing.

From an aesthetic perspective, many designers opt to work with rich woods like Walnut or Maple. What are your thoughts on using Ash as your primary material? Is it a challenge, does it change your process, or do you simply disagree and think Ash is amazing?

We too are guilty of using ‘rich’ woods such as walnut and maple, but we try to steer away from the norm in what we do — we use roasted species of wood, and try to use a variety of species but it’s hard — the market really drives people toward walnut right now — just like teak had its day, now seems to be the time for walnut to accent our interiors.  We love ash — we just finished 26 Outdoor tables for the House On Parliament in Cabbagetown. We had the ash roasted and it’s just as rich and elegant as walnut, if not more so. Part of what we do is to highlight the qualities of the woods we work with — we’ll do that with the salvaged ash too.

You’ve clearly established yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the Toronto design scene. What tips or advice would you give to other creators hoping to be a part of IIDEX Woodshop through the competition?

I’d say to really branch out — be creative and conceptual and try to realise your final functional design by still holding on to those original conceptual thoughts — that’s what will stand out. Too much design today is just a repeat/retake of existing items but if you can re-invent in a new and imaginative way, that’s what will help move you forward.

And finally, what’s something that you’re really into right now?

Right now I’m really into lighting — I always have been, having produced a set of lamps all the way back in Art School for my degree show, but with a couple of recent briefs to design lamps and lights, its sparked that excitement for me again. That coincides well with my new Lathe — which is work, play, and relaxation all in one!

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Michael Greenwood!

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