IIDEX Woodshop Winners Spotlight | Kevin Armour

The IIDEX Woodshop Exhibition opens this Thursday, and now that we’ve covered the featured designers that were solicited for the initiative, we’re going to turn the spotlight on the 5 competition winners who will be joining their ranks at IIDEX. This week: Kevin Armour for Truss.

Kevin Armour is an award winning Canadian Industrial Designer currently working at Healthcare Human Factors, developing medical device interfaces and wearable monitoring devices. Kevin has experience working as a design consultant, developing products for a range of industries, from automotive accessories to home and garden.

We caught up with Kevin this week, and here’s what they had to say about about his competition submission, the IIDEX Woodshop initiative, and furniture design:

ideacious: As a city and IIDEX supported initiative to use a portion of the 200,000+ ash trees being destroyed over the next 5 years, IIDEX Woodshop has a strong narrative going for it. How did this inspire you when designing your piece?

Kevin Armour: What inspired me most about this initiative is the way in which the community has come together to transform and claim this material that may have otherwise been discarded. Transforming the raw material into such unique and dynamic prototypes and saving this beautiful natural resource from a grizzly demise is always a strong motivator for me. As a designer living in one of the largest urban landscapes in Canada it’s very important to create products with a strong environmental initiative – using as many locally produced materials as possible is definitely a draw.

It’s great to see so many creative minds come together and take the exact same material and “bend” it in all sorts of directions. The hope is that this project will inspire designers across Canada to continue striving to save future materials from visiting those landfills.

Many designers opt to work with aesthetically 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 disagree and think Ash is amazing?

I do not have much experience working with wood, so coming into this project with semi-virgin hands I had no preconceptions about Ash, my only real knowledge was that the majority of axe handles use it, because of its resistance to splitting – which sparked my idea.Instead of focusing on the aesthetic properties of the material I focused on how people have been manipulating it. I discovered that Ash is a prime wood commonly used for bending. And despite the fact that I had no experience bending before I thought this would be a great way to experiment with this theory and push the limits on how far I could push the material.

What qualities in other designers’ work often catch your attention or make you really think the designer is on to something?

Exploration and curiosity – it is obvious when someone is doing something new and interesting, it doesn’t need to make sense or be traditionally beautiful to catch my eye. For example Marcel Wanders Snotty Vase really caught my eye because it’s fun, and is desirable to me mainly because of its story. 

Another great example of out of the box thinking and arousing experimentation is in Studio Hausen’s Textile Moulded Chair. Reading through this product’s particular development process and watching the experimentation roll out is really exciting to me.

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

Well… thanks to this project – wood working and furniture is something I’m really excited about these days. This is my first personally realized piece of furniture; but I don’t think it will be my last.

This post concludes our series of spotlights on the IIDEX Woodshop participants. We’re all very excited to see the pieces at IIDEX 2013 this week, and hope to see at least a few of you there!

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