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!