IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | the National Design Collective

This is the 3rd 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: the National Design Collective.

The National Design Collective (NDC), currently comprised of Scott Bodaly and Heather Lam, was established in 2009. They specialize in creating custom furniture, interior, graphic, and product design, with a heavy emphasis on creating objects/experiences through narratives and experimentation.

Scott & Heather interviewed with us briefly and here is what they had to say on the subjects of Ash, local breweries, motorcycles and (ofcourse!) IIDEX Woodshop:

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?

theNDC: Normally materials such as these would be incinerated or go straight to the landfill.  What is great about this initiative is that it creates a unique opportunity to take what would be waste and turn it into something that can benefit our community.  The trees were once a part of the city of Toronto, so it would be nice to give something back to replace what the city has lost.  

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 disagree! We have always liked the more local woods, which tend to be lighter in colour.  We have experimented with ash in the past, playing not only with its aesthetic, but also its capabilities.  It can be stained, bleached, lamination and steam bent, and has nice grain, strength, and weight.  Being a local wood, it is well suited to our climate and doesn’t require crazy toxic finishing.

There could even be an opportunity to introduce a Toronto or Canadian design aesthetic using ash.  For example, the Dutch created a strong design identity by using dark oiled woods and earth toned fabrics that is recognizable all over the world. Canada had a similar scene in the 60s and 70s that was very innovative and funky using new material processes (new to that time), such as complex plywood bending and advances in plastics manufacturing. With the Ash Borer creating a surplus of ash in the city, local designers can embrace the processes that are well suited to the material, potentially creating a definable aesthetic in the international design scene.

4 Cities Coasters by the National Design Collective

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?

Don’t be afraid to experiment and never turn down an opportunity to learn something new.  Most importantly, do exactly what makes you happy, have fun, and support your local breweries while designing!

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

A band from Ottawa called A Tribe Called Red, they’ve got a unique powwow-step vibe that is great to work to in the shop.    

We’re also currently obsessed with motorcycles.  There’s something really honest and simple about a motorcycle which we appreciate and can learn a lot from.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: 608|Design!


Discussion | The Rise of the Info-Object

Unless you live under a rock (or have absolutely no interest in the subject), most of you will have realized that infographics have grown into a popular & powerful communication tool over the past few years. There are even websites dedicated solely to the art of infographics – my personal favorite being Information is Beautiful (also a book by David Mcandless).

It is no wonder then, that information rich graphics would bleed over into the world of physical objects. Some objects take a more literal approach (graphic treatment on surfaces) while others render functional, 3 dimensional applications rich with information. We propose that both these fall under the umbrella of Info-Objects. We have a couple of great examples of Info-Objects within the current ideacious product offering, with still more coming through the pipelines.

First up is the “I Kinda Like It Here” coaster series by the National Design Collective. Using laser cut birch plywood, these coasters offer intricate details of the planning of some of the urban metropolises in Canada & the US.

The second example comes in the form of a coat rack / shelf designed by Devin Schaffner, the Elev10. While also celebrating geographic identities, the Elev10 takes a slightly different approach to theNDC’s coasters in that it draws on the location of the Canadian provincial capitals to offer a very functional application – placing your articles according to elevation.

The third (and final) example offers a whole other take on the Info-Object that pays tribute to the background of an object and applies it in a fun & interesting way – the History Screws by Joshua Brassé. Each History Screw gives you its name, date of invention, standard sizes – and a place to hang your coat!

This is, after all, part of our Discussion series of blog posts – let us know your thoughts on the rise of Info-Objects and any other examples you think fit the criteria.

Product Profile | US Cities Coasters by the National Design Collective

The “I Kinda Like It Here” coasters by the National Design Collective now has an American edition—the US Cities Coasters.

A celebration of the more design-centric cities in the United States, this set makes its way from the West to East coast with coasters based on San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

The coasters are laser cut from 3mm birch plywood and shipped in sets of 4 with a reusable wood backing. Each set is accompanied by a hand-screen print of the city (or cities) outline(s). The US Cities Coasters set will be available on ideacious shortly.

Packaged set: 15″ x 4″
Individual coaster size approximately 3″ across

Product Profile | I Kinda Like It Here Coasters by the National Design Collective

The “I Kinda Like It Here” coasters by the National Design Collective come in 2 flavours. The first is the 4 Cities Coasters that celebrate the geographic identities of 4 major Canadian metropolitan areas – Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa.

The second is an ode to theNDC’s hometown – Toronto. Appealing to Torontophiles everywhere (well, maybe just Toronto), these coasters limit the celebrations to Canada’s largest city.

The coasters are laser cut from 3mm birch plywood and shipped in sets of 4 with a reusable wood backing. Each set is accompanied by a hand-screen print of the city (or cities) outline(s).

As an additional treat, theNDC has uploaded an animated GIF where you can see Vancouver under attack by lasers.

Packaged set: 15″ x 4″
Individual coaster size approximately 3″ across

Product Profile | M3 + M4 ring by the National Design Collective

Exploring new territory in the realm of jewelry design, the M3 + M4 ring by the National Design Collective elevates the utility screw to the status of diamond.

In an attempt to redefine what constitutes a “luxury” item, the M3 + M4 ring demands a definition based on utility merit, and not scarcity. Designed and made in Toronto, the rings are sterling silver, hand-polished to a mirror finish, and feature a detachable M3 or an M4 stainless steel hex-screw.

theNDC has also done a great job with the packaging for the rings, which come in a reusable wooden box made exclusively from offcuts from their shop (currently oak, but varying based on what fills the bins). The outer sleeve is made from a stock that is FSC certified, 100% post-consumer material and processed chlorine free.

The M3 + M4 are available in ladies’ size 7, and men’s sizes 8.5, 10 and 11.5. For a peek behind the scenes at the fabrication of the M3 + M4, you can check out theNDC’s blog post.

Designer Profile | the National Design Collective

I Kinda Like It Here by the National Design Collective

Established in 2009 in Toronto, Canada, the National Design Collective (aka theNDC) is the result of excessive creative energy from industrial designers Scott Bodaly, Heather Lam and Jessica Tien. Working outside of their respective nine-to-five schedule to satiate their creative thirst and object curiosity, their experiments with materials and fabrication methods after hours have led them to create a number of interesting, inventive objects.

M3 / M4 Rings by the National Design Collective

 An essential component of theNDC, and one of their most interesting aspects, is their regularly updated blog where you can see each successful (or disastrous!) step of their product development process, amongst an assortment of other updates and fun diversions.