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!

IIDEX Woodshop Winners Spotlight | Randy Kerr

The IIDEX Woodshop Exhibition is next week, 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: Randy Kerr  for IMPRESSIONS.

Randy Kerr can often be found cutting & splitting firewood for his off-grid house that sits atop a cliff. At the café, NURBS modeling software supplements his sketchbook. At the shop, CNC machine processes complement more traditional machinery, but a fishtail gouge can be found sitting on his vacuum table.

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

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?

Randy Kerr: Using wood from trees that have died due to disease, fire and weather is nothing new. It has though become more popular in part out of necessity as our forest resources have been depleted. Its been my experience that the volume of high quality of furniture grade woods are less and less as each day goes by. I have noticed that for the most part high end woodworkers still aspire to using the select and better lumber and architectural grade veneers but many contemporary industrial and architectural designers have seen the benefit to using this “secondary” resource of salvaged material with its inherent expressiveness, formerly seen as defects. It was 50 years ago that George Nakashima popularized the use of live edge lumber and this salvaged wood is often perfectly suited to have that cambium surface as a design detail. We can no longer afford to waste a single piece of wood, call it post rationalization or finally see the beauty in the mineral stains and crooked grain. The salvaged wood from urban and storm ravaged trees may help take a small amount of pressure off of our remnant forests. The entrance doors in my house came from an ice storm damaged tree on my property. This time I  designed around the “defects” by digitally drawing in Rhino on top of an image of the ash wood that I received. The carved vessel  in this case had to flow around the checks in the knots to provide a sound and useful object that would hopefully not distort too much when relieved of the surrounding wood.

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?

Ash was the first wood that I ever worked, making my own snow shoes as a kid. I then went on to make chairs completely by hand using both green and dried ash. The smell of working ash today evokes wonderful memories of those days. The aroma of the green wood shavings that piled up at my feet had a much sweeter smell than the dry shavings that fly off of a CNC router today. Over the years I have worked 1000s of board feet of lumber and 1000s of sq. feet of veneer and nothing takes me back with a smile to those days of draw knives and spoke shaves like the smell of Fraxinus Americana . Ash is amazing, aesthetically its surface texture is powerful and demanding because of that it needs to help support the form to avoid unwanted negative tensions.

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

Regrettably I pay very little attention to names other than the obvious great ones from Zaha Hadid to Wendle Castle, its is the objects alone that seem to catch my attention. Simplicity of form, direct to the point, an expressive process and craftsmanship all tied together by concept are what have me taking a second look.  

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

I have been around for a while, today what i am into is designing digitally. That is what has caught my attention and in my case it is simply drawing in ‘Rhino’. I cannot say that I have caught up to where I once was. I am having fun these last several years learning this new process and I am always surprised by the results. Couple that with CNC fab and some good old fashioned hand work and I am a happy man.

Stay tuned for next week as we have the scoop on Kevin Armour and the Truss table.

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Said the King

This is the 9th 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: Said the King.

Said the King is based in Toronto and always thinking of the people. Accordingly, their pieces are made locally using responsible materials. Each of their products aim to create a story, an experience, or at the very least a moment of ‘ahhh, I see what you did there’. Said the King designs are fun and uncomplicated, using simple materials like wood, ceramic, or screenprinted fabric.

We had the chance to have Said the King founder, Karen King, answer our questions. Here’s what she had to say about the IIDEX Woodshop competition, working with ash wood and her love for bourbon:

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?

Said the King: I’ve really taken the idea of ‘the end of Toronto’s ash trees’ and used it in two ways: to inspire a fun narrative around the piece and to inform the design.

As a story: I took the idea of ‘the end’ and pushed it to ‘the end of days’ to imagine the one piece of furniture you’d want with you during your final moments just before the zombies, the rage – whatever is bringing the end of the world – comes crashing through your door.

Design-wise: Because Toronto’s ash is coming to an end all at once, creating a surplus of material, I’ve added an extra element to my design. In addition to my core piece I’ll be creating a few variations catered specifically to other major brands. If one picks it up they’ll have the audience and resources to order in much larger volume, using up more of the available ash.

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?

Of the hardwood pieces Said the King currently offers, ash is already an option so it doesn’t change much. What is different though is the story behind this wood – being able to say that we’re using Toronto ash and to tell the story of the beetle infestation makes this particular ash really rich.

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

Bourbon cocktails. I got hooked when someone made me a Paper Plane. Now I’m trying to learn the basics like an Old Fashioned and a Boulevardier. And once I can get my hands on some agave nectar I can’t wait to make a Bourbon Bomber.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Scott Eunson!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Rob Southcott

This is the 8th 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: Rob Southcott Studio Works!

Self_Portrait

Rob Southcott produces “artful objects, which enhance our daily lives”, which he accomplishes by maintaining an openness and awareness to his surroundings. His works have been exhibited to international audiences in North America, Germany and Korea.

We caught up with Rob to get his insights on the IIDEX Woodshop competition, ash wood and his newest interests!

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?

Rob Southcott: By producing works that considers the past and present lives of Toronto’s dwindling ash population while building a connection between the material, it’s history, location and as always the end user. 

Long_Lamp_RS


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?

I’ve never shied away from ash and have used it in other projects for its amazing strength to weight qualities. It looks nice too!

RobSouthcott


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

Anything with two wheels and a motor or a voronoi pattern. 

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Said the King!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Brothers Dressler

This is the 7th 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 Brothers Dressler!

The Brothers Dressler are material-based designers specializing in crafting custom furnishings, lighting, objects and special products using sustainable processes such as using reclaimed, ecologically friendly and responsibly harvested materials.

The Brothers shared some of their thoughts with us regarding the IIDEX Woodshop competition, their fondness for ash wood and engaging their sons in the building blocks of design.

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?

Brothers Dressler: This is something that we have been embracing for some time with our Ash Out of Quarantine project. It’s a continuation of that exploration of using this abundant and untapped local resource as well as bringing awareness to the plight of the Ash trees. The City of Toronto is showing initiative in pursuing this opportunity and there is great potential to change the way people think about where the objects they buy come from and what they’re made of. This narrative will be carried on through these newly designed pieces and throughout our catalogue.  

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?

All woods have their own unique feel and beauty and ash is no different. It is a strong and malleable wood with its own unique richness and other special properties. It can be manipulated in so many ways and we’ve been using it in many of our pieces. One of the unique characteristics of ash, particularly those trees that endure growing within the city, is the unique grain pattern. Ash also has great bending properties, which allow us to utilize steam and bent lamination for our designs.

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

Besides using ash we have both been really into playing with Lego with our sons. It was a huge inspiration for us growing up and we find ourselves continuously amazed at the enthusiasm and creativity it inspires. Watching our boys manipulating the bricks, dismantling a creation and inventing something different is a potent reminder of how playful we should be with design.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Heidi Earnshaw Design!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Paus + Grün

This is the 5th 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: Paus + Grün.

P+G Portrait

Paus + Grün Inc. are a small group of carpenters and designers  who specialize in creating innovative and durable furniture from salvaged wood taken from local barns, historic buildings and about-to-be-disposed trees. Doing so, they minimize environmental impact and add depth to all their creations.

We got in touch with Paus + Grün and they had a few thoughts about the IIDEX Woodshop competition, working with ash and those pesky Emerald Ash Borers (EAB):

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?

P+G: When people see wood reclaimed from old barns or other buildings used in furniture, they understand that it is beautiful not only for it’s imperfections, patina, and history, but also because it is ethical, having come usually from a local source, being a reused material, and requiring very little in the way of additional processing beyond a bit of nail pulling and drying. By highlighting the unique beauty and versatility of Ash in our work, we hope to help raise it’s aesthetic status, making it a little more familiar and maybe even trendy in peoples minds, and hope that as awareness of the Emerald Ash Borer spreads, thanks to projects like IIDEX Woodshop, people in Toronto and elsewhere will begin to see Ash wood used around them and in locally made furniture, and know that it is an ethical, sensible choice. Like wood reclaimed from barns and buildings, utilizing the many trees brought down by the Emerald Ash Borer will on the whole prevent the cutting of healthy, living trees.

Abigail Chair

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?

For us, Ash is a welcome departure from the prettier, richer woods we see more often in woodworking and furniture design. Ash has brightness and texture that give it a crisp and interesting character. So, we like it. It is also versatile, workable and strong as heck, and our work will rely on at least a couple of those qualities. No complaints here.

Allan Coffee Table

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

We love working with reclaimed wood and are always glad to see it being used. As charming as the rustic look can be, we want to see the use of reclaimed wood survive the trend, and become a standard in fine, contemporary furniture-making as well as more rustic creations. We are in to anything that bridges this gap effectively. Aside from furniture, we are in to BBQ’ing straight from the parking-lot vegetable garden behind our shop, holding questionable and experimental musical jams above the shop, and getting outside as much as possible.

Stay tuned for our next IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight: Brothers Dressler!

IIDEX Woodshop Designer Spotlight | Heidi Earnshaw

This is the 6th 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: Heidi Earnshaw Design!

Heidi Earnshaw

Heidi Earnshaw Design is a studio founded by Heidi Earnshaw focused on designing and producing handcrafted wooden furniture and objects and fully-fitted spaces for private, public and corporate projects using carefully and responsibly made unique pieces.

We were fortunate to have Heidi offer some insight into IIDEX Woodshop, ash wood and some of her other interests.

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?

Heidi Earnshaw: There is an amazing practicality to the narrative in  finding creative ways to transform the ash bore problem into a positive shared opportunity and experience for the design community, city foresters and Torontonians in general. In that same spirit,  I hope the design I submit will hold a wide appeal as a beautiful, useful and accessible object of everyday use. 

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?

Wood types come and go in popularity.  In the 90’s cherry and maple were the favourites, now it is walnut that is most popular. As designers we need to encourage the use of wood that is responsibly harvested and grown in North America. All woods have historical uses based on their particular characteristics.  Ash, known for it’s straight, reliable grain and excellent strength to weight ratio is commonly used in sports equipment, tools handles, oars etc.  This exhibition will hopefully remind us that all wood is good, it is simply a matter of using it appropriately and highlighting the best characteristics both functionally and aesthetically.  

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

Antiques.  I can spend hours roaming around country flea markets.  They are like museums of material culture that I find endlessly inspiring.

Stay tuned for a new designer next week!