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!


Update | 1_STN Screen Printer by Joshua Brassé

The first production run for the 1_STN Screen Printer by ideacious founder and CEO Joshua Brassé was completed last week! The first orders have shipped, and we’ve also been able to shoot an instructional video on how to use the 1_STN, which really highlights how easy to use and handy this product is.

Some more photographs…

Product Profile | Recraft Postcards by Lisa Tse

The latest addition to the ideacious product line-up, Recraft Postcards by Lisa Tse for Recraft Gifts are a reminder that there remains some very novel and sentimental gems to share with your love ones.

Made from salvaged raw denim bonded to recycled card stock, with messages finely laser cut through all layers – sure to capture your recipient’s attention.

The edges are carefully sewn together, so your card set (and your message) will last forever.

Know that all Recraft cards are assembled by hand, in the old world tailoring tradition—ensuring that each one is as unique as the person receiving it. Order your pack of 5 postcards now on ideacious.

Discussion | Open Fabrication & The Future of 3-D Printing, Pt. 2

Last week we gave you an overview of Open Fabrication with a few great examples of 3-D printed products that best utilize advancements in the technology and markets. As promised, this second post will delve further into the popularization of 3-D printing and some interesting parallels to Chinese “Shanzhai” manufacturers.

The future of 3-D printing

As 3-D printers become ubiquitous to the average consumer’s home we can expect a few drastic changes to the face of design and manufacturing. We are already seeing how we are developing into a much more visual culture than we were even a decade ago. This means that people will be much more likely to use CAD software that is specifically built to be accessible to the non-designer to create simple, unique products or modify/customize downloadable 3-D models from websites such as Thingiverse.

These projections are obviously fairly far out into the future, given that it is currently impossible for the average consumer to fully harness the power of a 3-D printer, given the investment and technical knowledge required. It is much more likely that, in the interim, we will see 3-D print shops in the vein of Shapeways that offer accessible and easy to customize products, although perhaps in a more local/community based format like TechShop.

Parallels to “Shanzhai” manufacturing

As of 2010, China has overtaken the US as having the world’s largest manufacturing output (19.8%). With their tightly integrated manufacturing web, they have become a force to reckon with in the production of black market goods, most of which come out of what are referred to as “Shanzhai” manufacturers. These organizations make everything from simple components to complex goods that sell just as well as the big players in the lower-end global consumer markets.

Through the sharing of information, their system accelerates new inventions, manufacturing and responsiveness to local tastes. As put by the paper from IFTF we referred to in the first post—”Take a tightly integrated and highly competitive design-to-shelf supply chain, combine it with a lack of IP enforcement, and you get a class of small-scale manufacturers who can respond more flexibly to the emerging whims and desires of the market.”

The speed with which “Shanzhai” manufacturers operate is stunning, putting out customized mash-ups of products in a manner that parallels what home 3-D printing could eventually be capable of. The end result is high-priced design and technology that is accessible and affordable to the global mass consumer market.

While this was initially intended to be a 2 part post, there really is a lot to delve into on the topic and I’m afraid we’ll have to keep you guys waiting till next week to find out where we think ideacious count fit into this vision of a 3-D printed future.

Team ideacious | Same is Out

Since Henry Ford’s golden age of mass fabrication in the beginning of the 20th Century, sameness has been in. Ford’s vision of an efficient factory producing identical goods for a wide consumer base established a paradigm that remains to this day. This culture of sameness has helped to define the aesthetic language of design, advocating for the use of smooth finishes over the handmade; flawless materials over the natural.

Today, some designers are working to challenge this culture of sameness by producing unique products through imperfect processes.

Omer Arbel is a designer working to create unique artifacts in response to the sameness of mass production processes. One example of Arbel’s unique production process is the bronze cast 19 bowl where overspill that results from the sand casting process is integrated into the final product, creating an individuality of form.


Max Lamb is also working to define a new language of form. Carving into the beach sand of Cornwall, UK, Lamb crafted a mold for his Pewter Stool. Pouring liquid metal directly into the beach, Lamb created a finished form that displays the imperfections of the earth itself.


These critical responses to modern mass fabrication often appropriate aspects of existing production methods. In this vein, London based designer Markus Kayser has adapted digital fabrication tools in his search for a post oil product aesthetic. Harnessing the power of the sun, Kayser has adapted 3D printing technology to his desert setting; melting sand into glass and ultimately into a crude bowl.

As we move into a world of digital fabrication how will this trend toward randomness affect future product aesthetics? Will designers come to embrace inconstancies or will we continue to strive for the illusion of perfection?

Editor’s Note: For those of you interested, this post series will feature one member of the ideacious team each week, covering a wide range of topics. Look forward to hearing from our Lead Industrial Designer next week!